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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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    GRACEVILLE FLORIDA BUILDING CONSULTANT
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    The Graceville, Florida Building Consultant Group at BHA, leverages from the experience gained through more than 7,000 construction related expert witness designations encompassing a wide spectrum of construction related disputes. Leveraging from this considerable body of experience, BHA provides construction related trial support and expert services to Graceville's most recognized construction litigation practitioners, commercial general liability carriers, owners, construction practice groups, as well as a variety of state and local government agencies.

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    Cherokee Nation Wins Summary Judgment in COVID-19 Business Interruption Claim

    February 01, 2021 —
    In a resounding victory for policyholders, an Oklahoma state court granted partial summary judgment for the Cherokee Nation in its COVID-19 business interruption claim. The Cherokee Nation is seeking coverage for losses caused by the pandemic—specifically, the inability to use numerous tribal businesses and services for their intended purpose. Based on the “all risks” nature of the policy and the fortuitous nature of its loss, the Cherokee Nation sought a partial summary judgment ruling that the policies afford business interruption coverage for COVID-19-related losses. The policy provided coverage for “all risk of direct physical loss or damage,” which the Cherokee Nation contended was triggered when the property was “rendered unusable for its intended purpose.” In support of this view, and consistent with established insurance policy interpretation principles, such as providing meaning to every term and reading the policy as a whole, the Cherokee Nation argued that a distinction must exist between “physical loss” and “physical damage.” This distinction demands an interpretation supporting the “intended purpose” reading of the policy language. Thus, the physical presence of COVID-19 depriving the Cherokee Nation of the use of covered property for its intended purpose triggered a covered loss. Reprinted courtesy of Sergio F. Oehninger, Hunton Andrews Kurth, Geoffrey B. Fehling, Hunton Andrews Kurth and Matt Revis, Hunton Andrews Kurth Mr. Oehninger may be contacted at soehninger@HuntonAK.com Mr. Fehling may be contacted at gfehling@HuntonAK.com Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of

    Do Not Forfeit Coverage Under Your Property Insurance Policy

    February 22, 2021 —
    If you have read prior articles (see here and here as an example), then you know that when it comes to first-party property insurance policies, an insured must comply with post-loss obligations in the policy. Failure to comply with a post-loss obligation gives the insurer the argument that the insured materially breached the policy and, therefore, forfeited rights to coverage. Naturally, this is avoidable by ensuring post-loss obligations are complied with, ideally under the guidance of counsel and qualified public adjusters to ensure your rights are being preserved and maximized.
    [W]hen an insurer has alleged, as an affirmative defense to coverage, and thereafter has subsequently established, that an insured has failed to substantially comply with a contractually mandated post-loss obligation, prejudice to the insurer from the insured’s material breach is presumed, and the burden then shifts to the insured to show that any breach of post-loss obligations did not prejudice the insurer. Universal Property & Casualty Ins. Co. v. Horne, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D201b (Fla. 3d DCA 2021) quoting American Integrity Ins. Co. v. Estrada, 276 So.3d 905, 916 (Fla. 3d DCA 2019).
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    Reprinted courtesy of David Adelstein, Kirwin Norris, P.A.
    Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at dma@kirwinnorris.com

    Top 10 Insurance Cases of 2020

    January 11, 2021 —
    COVID-19 business interruption coverage litigation may have stolen the show in 2020, but those cases should not eclipse other important insurance coverage cases decided throughout this past year. As the courts nationwide struggled with the insurance coverage implications of COVID-19 related business loss, other significant coverage decisions were overshadowed. Read on to learn about how computer glitches, biometric privacy, and a falling wheelbarrow have all played a role in\ shaping some of the most interesting and influential insurance coverage decisions of 2020, as well as get a sneak peek at the key coverage decisions looming in 2021. Enjoy! 1. Nash Street, LLC v. Main Street America Assurance Company, No. 20389, 2020 WL 5415325 (Conn. 2020) Do exclusions k(5) and k(6) absolve an insurer of its duty to defend its insured for allegations of faulty workmanship? Reprinted courtesy of Grace V. Hebbel, Saxe Doernberger & Vita P.C., Andrew G. Heckler, Saxe Doernberger & Vita P.C. and Jeffrey J. Vita, Saxe Doernberger & Vita P.C. Ms. Hebbel may be contacted at GHebbel@sdvlaw.com Mr. Heckler may be contacted at AHeckler@sdvlaw.com Mr. Vita may be contacted at JVita@sdvlaw.com Read the court decision
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    Eleventh Circuit Vacates District Court Decision Finding No Duty to Defend Faulty Workmanship Claims

    November 02, 2020 —
    The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to the insurer finding there was no duty to defend. Southern-Owners Ins. Co. v. Mac Contractors of Florida, LLC, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 23918 (11th Cir. July 29, 2020). Mac Contractors entered into a contract with homeowners to serve as general contractor for the construction of a custom residence. Problems arose during construction and Mac eventually led the job site before completing the project. The home owners sued, alleging that Mac and its subcontractors had left the residence "replete with construction defects." Damages were sought for having to repair and remediate all defective work performed by Mac. Mac tendered under its CGL policy to its insurer, Southern-Owners. A defense was granted, but later withdrawn when Southern-Owners filed suit seeking a declaration that it owed no duty to defend or indemnify Mac. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court found in favor of Southern-Owners based on the exclusion for "Damage to Your Work." The Eleventh Circuit vacated on appeal, concluding that the underlying complaint could fairly be construed to allege damages that fell outside of the exclusion. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Tred R. Eyerly, Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert
    Mr. Eyerly may be contacted at te@hawaiilawyer.com

    Edward Beitz and William Taylor Recognized by US News – Best Lawyers as a "Lawyer of the Year"

    August 31, 2020 —
    White and Williams is proud to announce that Edward Beitz and William Taylor have been recognized by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® as a “Lawyer of the Year” in their respective practices in Philadelphia. Ed was named in the area of Medical Malpractice and Bill was named in Construction Law. "Lawyer of the Year" recognitions are awarded to individual lawyers with extremely high overall peer-feedback for a specific practice area and geographic location. Ed is a member of the Healthcare Group and focuses his practice on medical malpractice defense, defending doctors, nurses, physician assistants and hospitals at the trial and appellate court levels, as well as general liability matters. He has successfully defended numerous medical malpractice cases at trial involving complex issues of the human anatomy, such as cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, nursing care, obstetrical complications, nerve injury and vascular injury. Ed has authored briefs on appellate issues in healthcare and coverage matters to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, the New Jersey Appellate Division and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Reprinted courtesy of Edward Beitz, White and Williams and William Taylor, White and Williams Mr. Beitz may be contacted at beitze@whiteandwilliams.com Mr. Taylor may be contacted at taylorw@whiteandwilliams.com Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of

    Auburn Woods Homeowners Association v. State Farm General Insurance Company

    January 11, 2021 —
    In Auburn Woods HOA v. State Farm Gen. Ins. Co., 56 Cal.App.5th 717 (October 28,2020) (certified for partial publication), the California Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s entry of judgment in favor of State Farm General Insurance Company (“State Farm”) regarding a lawsuit for breach of contract and bad faith brought by Auburn Woods Homeowners Association (“HOA”) and property manager, Frei Real Estate Services (“FRES”) against State Farm and the HOA’s broker, Frank Lewis. The parties’ dispute arose out of the tender of two different lawsuits filed against the HOA and FRES by Marva Beadle (“Beadle”). The first lawsuit was filed by Beadle as the owner of a condominium unit against the HOA and FRES for declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and an accounting related to amounts allegedly owed by Beadle to the HOA as association fees. The second lawsuit filed by Beadle was for the purpose of setting aside a foreclosure sale, cancelling the trustee’s deed and quieting title, and for an accounting and injunctive relief against an unlawful detainer action filed by Sutter Group, LP against Beadle. The complaint filed in the second lawsuit alleged that Allied Trustee Services caused Beadle’s property to be sold at auction and that Sutter Capital Group, LP purchased the unit and obtained a trustee’s deed upon sale. Beadle claimed the assessments against her were improper and the trustee’s deed upon sale was wrongfully executed. Beadle sought an order restoring possession of her unit and damages. The HOA and FRES tendered both lawsuits to State Farm. As respects the first lawsuit, State Farm denied coverage of the lawsuit based on the absence of alleged “damages” covered by the policy issued to the HOA affording liability and directors and officers (“D&O”) coverages. State Farm agreed to defend the HOA under the D&O coverage in the second lawsuit. However, State Farm denied coverage of FRES in both lawsuits as it did not qualify as an insured under the State Farm policy issued to the HOA. Subsequently, the HOA and FRES filed an action against State Farm arguing that a duty to defend was triggered under its policy for the first lawsuit and a duty to defend FRES was also owed under the D&O policy for the second lawsuit. After a bench trial, the trial court entered summary judgment in favor of State Farm based on the failure of the first lawsuit to allege damages covered by the State Farm policy under the liability and D&O coverages afforded by the policy. As respects the second lawsuit, the trial court held that FRES did not qualify as an insured and State Farm did not act in bad faith by refusing to pay the HOA’s alleged defense costs in the second lawsuit before it agreed to defend the HOA against such lawsuit. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Michael Velladao, Lewis Brisbois
    Mr. Velladao may be contacted at Michael.Velladao@lewisbrisbois.com

    The Hazards of Carrier-Specific Manuscript Language: Ohio Casualty's Off-Premises Property Damage and Contractors' E&O Endorsements

    October 05, 2020 —
    Risk transfer in the construction industry depends heavily on industry-standard insurance language. Insurance provisions in subcontracts typically reference ISO standard insurance terminology or endorsements in order to guarantee (or, at least, attempt to secure) coverage for upstream parties. The contract may require, for example, that a subcontractor maintains general liability insurance on a “current ISO occurrence form,” and name upstream parties as additional insureds, and both parties will have a general understanding of what that entails for purposes of risk transfer. Problems arise, however, when insurance companies stray from standard language, especially on issues that go to the heart of construction risk transfer. In some instances, provisions that track ISO language may contain subtle changes that seem to meet the contractual insurance requirements. Upon closer scrutiny, it could significantly change how a policy will respond to a given claim. Given the extent of potential liability arising from construction projects, if the insurance programs intended to back up risk transfer and indemnity agreements do not respond as expected, all the potentially liable parties may be left in the lurch. Reprinted courtesy of Theresa A. Guertin, Saxe Doernberger & Vita and Eric M. Clarkson, Saxe Doernberger & Vita Ms. Guertin may be contacted at tag@sdvlaw.com Mr. Clarkson may be contacted at emc@sdvlaw.com Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of

    Statute of Limitations Bars Lender’s Subsequent Action to Quiet Title Against Junior Lienholder Mistakenly Omitted from Initial Judicial Foreclosure Action

    October 19, 2020 —
    A recently issued opinion by the Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District tells a cautionary tale regarding a lender’s failure to name a junior lienholder in its initial judicial foreclosure action. In Cathleen Robin v. Al Crowell, — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 2020 WL 5951506, plaintiffs sued defendant, a junior lienholder, for quiet title, having failed to name him in the initial judicial foreclosure action. Defendant raised the statute of limitations defense, but the trial court found in favor of plaintiffs. The court of appeal reversed, holding that the 60-year statute of limitations which the trial court applied only applied to a nonjudicial trustee’s sale, and the trial court could not exercise the trustee’s power of sale after the expiration of the statute of limitations on a judicial action to foreclose. In 2006, plaintiffs loaned Steve and Marta Weinstein (the “Weinsteins”) $450,000, secured by a deed of trust on one parcel of the Weinstein’s property. In 2007, the Weinsteins and defendant Al Crowell (“Crowell”) recorded a second deed of trust on the property, securing a promissory note executed by the Weinsteins in 2004. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Lyndsey Torp, Snell & Wilmer
    Ms. Torp may be contacted at ltorp@swlaw.com