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    Florida Builders Right To Repair Current Law Summary:

    Current Law Summary: In Title XXXIII Chapter 558, the Florida Legislature establishes a requirement that homeowners who allege construction defects must first notify the construction professional responsible for the defect and allow them an opportunity to repair the defect before the homeowner canbring suit against the construction professional. The statute, which allows homeowners and associations to file claims against certain types of contractors and others, defines the type of defects that fall under the authority of the legislation and the types of housing covered in thelegislation. Florida sets strict procedures that homeowners must follow in notifying construction professionals of alleged defects. The law also establishes strict timeframes for builders to respond to homeowner claims. Once a builder has inspected the unit, the law allows the builder to offer to repair or settle by paying the owner a sum to cover the cost of repairing the defect. The homeowner has the option of accepting the offer or rejecting the offer and filing suit. Under the statute the courts must abate any homeowner legal action until the homeowner has undertaken the claims process. The law also requires contractors, subcontractors and other covered under the law to notify homeowners of the right to cure process.

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    Time is of the Essence, Even When the Contract Doesn’t Say So

    January 11, 2021 —
    Welcome to 2021! As often happens here at Construction Law Musings, the year starts with a few posts on notable construction law cases that dropped in the past year or so. Not only does this review hopefully help you keep up, but helps me keep up with the latest developments (one of the reasons why I keep blogging). The first of these cases is Appalachian Power Co. v. Wagman Heavy Civil, Inc. out of the Western District of Virginia federal court. In this case, Wagman Heavy Civil, Inc. (“Wagman”) and the Virginia Department of Transportation (“VDOT”) contracted for the design and construction of a highway interchange project (the “Project”). Wagman and the Appalachian Power Company (“APCO”) entered into a written contract (the “Written Contract”) for APCO to remove and relocate its utility structures (the “Work”) in order to facilitate construction for the Project. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill
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    The Basics of Subcontractor Defaults – Key Considerations

    February 15, 2021 —
    The success of general contractors in completing a construction project is often dependent upon the performance of their subcontractors. General contractors have frequently said exactly this. Traditionally, the key subcontractors on a project are the electrical, plumbing, HVAC and structural steel subs. Due to the fundamental nature of the work performed by these trades, the risk of defaulting and terminating one or more of them is likely to have a substantial impact on the project, more so than with the trade contractors that perform their work after a building is made weather tight (i.e., drywall, tile, painting). Most general contractors have, over a period of years, established longstanding relationships with certain subcontractors that they have come to depend upon. The risk of having to default and terminate one of these subs is minimal. Nevertheless, there will inevitably arise occasions when even a once reliable subcontractor fails to perform and it becomes necessary to invoke the remedies of default and termination. Areas ripe for controversy with subcontractors that often can lead to default and termination often involve disputes over change orders and the scope of work, the installation of defective work and the back-charges that ensue therefrom, and, to a lesser extent, conflicts that arise from ambiguous plans and specifications and the extra work and delays caused by the discovery of unforeseen site conditions. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Gerard J. Onorata, Peckar & Abramson, P.C.
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    What Makes Building Ventilation Good Enough to Withstand a Pandemic?

    January 11, 2021 —
    In October, students at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, held an intimate jazz concert at a bar downtown, with an audience of about 20 peers and faculty members — all of whom held digital passes indicating they’d recently tested negative for Covid-19. Two jazz ensembles performed, sometimes with masks and coverings for their instruments, and other times without. Behind the scenes, mechanical engineering professor Ty Newell tinkered with the airflow, turning the exhaust and recirculation fans on and off at different points during the night. His students monitored for changes in the air quality, using a special instrument to measure the concentrations of carbon dioxide and fine particulate matter, both key to determining if a building is well ventilated. The experiment sought to highlight the significance of proper ventilation, something that Newell said hadn’t been paid enough attention, until now. As evidence suggesting Covid-19 can spread through aerosol transmission continues to mount, health experts are focused less on sanitizing surfaces and more on improving indoor air quality. In December, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally put out its ventilation recommendations to combat Covid-19, based on standards set by ASHRAE, or the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Linda Poon, Bloomberg

    Famed NYC Bridge’s Armor Is Focus of Suit Against French Company

    January 18, 2021 —
    French construction giant Vinci SA faces allegations it’s partly to blame for the degradation of the armor installed on New York City’s Kosciuszko Bridge to protect against terrorist attacks and accidents. Hardwire LLC, a Baltimore company that bid unsuccessfully on the project, previously sued one of its former executives for allegedly stealing its proprietary technology for bridge armor so he could win the contract. On Tuesday, Hardwire sought permission to add two units of Vinci to the suit, which claims damages of more than $40 million. The armor is “splitting, delaminating, and is in danger of falling off,” causing a “clear and present danger,” according to the proposed revised complaint filed in federal court in Maryland. The separation “leaves significant vulnerabilities for the bridge cable.” Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Joel Rosenblatt, Bloomberg

    Water Damage: Construction’s Often Unnoticed Threat

    November 02, 2020 —
    Fire damage to commercial buildings might get headlines, but water damage, whether to projects under construction or completed buildings, delivers massive financial blows to owners, developers and contractors. The impact is massive, reaching many billions of dollars per year. One water leak on the 19th floor at a construction site of a high-end apartment building in New York City resulted in $30 million in property damage and millions in delayed delivery penalties. Imagine this all-too-typical scenario: A 20-story building has thousands of pipe connections and many tens of thousands throughout the entire building. It only takes one of those joints failing, perhaps due to human oversight. Early on a Saturday morning when no one is onsite, one of the connections inside a wall begins to leak, slowly at first. In a couple hours the connection fails completely, sending a cascade of water into the building. The site is located next to a highway, so the security guards don’t hear the water flowing. The leak goes undetected until crews come back onsite on Monday morning. By that point, lower levels of the building have been inundated with thousands of gallons of water that has destroyed construction material, carpeting and electrical switchgear. It’s flowed into the elevator pits and mechanical room. Reprinted courtesy of Yaron Dycian, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved. Read the court decision
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    Penn Station’s Revival Gets a $1.6 Billion Down Payment

    February 08, 2021 —
    The newly opened Moynihan Train Hall at New York Penn Station, America’s busiest rail hub, is the culmination of a vision that New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan first promoted in the early 1990s. Moynihan, a champion of civic-minded federal architecture, proposed converting a portion of the Farley Post Office building to expand the crowded and much-unloved Penn Station facilities underneath Madison Square Garden. That scheme was repeatedly delayed, but on January 1, 2021, the result of those efforts – a $1.6 billion train hall designed by architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) – welcomed its first passengers. It’s a beautiful new space. Roofed by elegant bubbles of glass tensioned by almost-invisible cables, the shafts of daylight in contrast to the gloom of the long-neglected Penn Station are heartening. The hall is lined by glass-walled ticket offices for the Long Island Railroad and Amtrak. Sleek new escalators descend to the platforms. Airy new entrances draw passengers from the west. Above one entrance, breakdancers ebulliently leap from cloud to cloud in a stained-glass sky — an artwork by Kehinde Wiley. Above the other, an abstract skyline by Elmgreen & Dragset hangs overhead like urban stalactites. A waiting room evokes a suavely Art Deco diner. Moynihan Hall is a bracing restorative vision, at a time when rail travel needs all the help it can get. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of James S. Russell, Bloomberg

    Court Holds That Insurance Producer Cannot Be Liable for Denial of COVID-19 Business Interruption Claim

    November 23, 2020 —
    After an insurance carrier denied a lawyer and her law firm’s claim for lost business income due to the COVID-19-related shutdown, she sued both her carrier and the insurance producer that procured the policy. See Wilson v. Hartford Casualty Company, No. 20-3384 (E.D.Pa. Sep. 30, 2020). In one of the first cases to consider producer liability in COVID-19 cases, Judge Eduardo Robreno dismissed the lawsuit against the producer and the carrier. USI procured the Policy from Hartford for Rhonda Hill Wilson and her law firm. The Policy included coverage for lost business income and extra expense caused by direct physical loss of, or damage to property. Similarly, the Policy covered lost business income if a nearby property experienced a direct physical loss that caused a civil authority to issue an order that prohibited access to the law firm’s property. The Policy also included a virus exclusion “for loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by . . . [p]resence, growth, proliferation, spread or any activity of . . . virus.” Judge Robreno did not decide whether the Policy afforded any coverage to Wilson and her law firm for their COVID-19 losses. Rather, he found that even if they could, the virus exclusion unambiguously barred any coverage they could possibly claim. For that reason, Judge Robreno dismissed the claims against Hartford. Reprinted courtesy of Christopher P. Leise, White and Williams LLP and Marc L. Penchansky, White and Williams LLP Mr. Leise may be contacted at Mr. Penchansky may be contacted at Read the court decision
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    Be a Good Neighbor: Protect Against Claims by an Adjacent Landowner During Construction

    November 09, 2020 —
    There’s nothing like working in an office while pilings are being pounded into the ground next door, leading to crashing sounds of pile driving and the attendant afternoon headaches. Fortunately, that’s often the extent of a neighboring project’s real inconvenience. In other cases, however, construction in close quarters can mark the beginning of costly and emotional disputes, which can escalate to costly legal battles during and after construction. NUISANCE AND STRUCTURAL DAMAGE CLAIMS Construction claims are often based on the concept of “nuisance,” or on structural damage to adjacent property. Nuisance claims are typically based on noise and dust from construction sites, while structural damage claims are based on direct physical damage caused by neighboring demolition, vibrations, excavation and dewatering. These types of claims can result in monetary damages for neighbor plaintiffs, loss of permits for contractors and reputational damage to the developer. In one recent case in New York City, the developer faces up to $10 million in damages in a lawsuit with a neighboring property owner. The developer was conducting excavation, dewatering and installation of steel sheet piles, which the plaintiff alleges caused its five-story building to settle and shift, rendering doors inoperable and causing extensive cracking and separation of floors and ceilings from walls and supports. The plaintiff filed its complaint on Jan. 24, 2019, and the lawsuit is ongoing, exemplifying that construction claims such as these can be time consuming and costly (Complaint, 642 East 14th St. v. 644 E. 14th Realty [N.Y. Sup. Ct. January 24, 2019]). Reprinted courtesy of Joshua Levy & Madeleine Bailey, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved. Read the court decision
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