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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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    Tri-County Home Builders
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    PO Box 420
    Marianna, FL 32447

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    Local # 1064
    1835 Fiddler Court
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    Local # 1056
    1980 Lewis Turner Blvd
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    The Westville, Florida Building Consultant Group at BHA, leverages from the experience gained through more than 5,500 construction related expert witness designations encompassing a wide spectrum of construction related disputes. Drawing from this considerable body of experience, BHA provides construction related trial support and expert services to Westville'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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    Westville, Florida

    Don’t Waive Too Much In Your Mechanic’s Lien Waiver

    December 22, 2019 —
    In the past few years, the Virginia General Assembly has, with certain caveats, precluded pre-furnishing waiver of mechanic’s lien rights. While this essentially outlawed the types of mechanic’s lien waiver clauses that pervaded construction contracts in Virginia, the key to the previous sentence is “pre-furnishing.” What the General Assembly left intact were the usual waivers of mechanic’s lien rights typically required to be provided to Owners and others in the payment chain in exchange for payment. These lien waivers come in a few “flavors” from conditional to unconditional, partial to full. Their terms usually include an acknowledgement of receipt of payment (we’ll get to this later), and a statement that the one seeking payment knows of no possible claims by lower tier subcontractors and then waives all mechanic’s lien rights against the property for work performed and included in the request for payment. Often over my years as a Virginia construction attorney, I have noticed that these waivers are often signed without comment or review. They are just part of the process and more often than not are not even an issue for most projects. Of course, if they are an issue they can be a big one, and their terms can come back to bite a claimant that has not properly vetted them. The first potential issue is waiving lien rights while acknowledging receipt prior to actual receipt of the check or wire. Many of the waiver forms that are out there list a payment amount, or possibly simply state that the waiver is in exchange for some small payment, and then state “receipt of which is acknolwedged” or something similar. The issue here is that receipt may not have happened yet because these lien waivers are submitted as part of the payment package in order to get paid in the first place. In short, should you sign the waiver prior to payment, you may have acknowledged a non-event and in the event of non-payment have a written document stating that you waived your claim to a lien for that money. What a court would do with this, I am unsure, but why risk it? My advice, be sure your waiver is contingent on actual clearance of payment as well as receipt. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill
    Mr. Hill may be contacted at chrisghill@constructionlawva.com

    AB5, Dynamex, the ABC Standard, and their Effects on the Construction Industry

    December 09, 2019 —
    Last year, we reported that the California Supreme Court in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 903 (“Dynamex”) adopted a new, pro-employment standard (the “ABC Standard”), which presumes a worker is an employee versus an independent contractor under California wage orders and regulations. Assembly Bill 5 (“AB5”) has now been passed by the California Legislature and signed by Governor Newsom. Bill AB5 codifies the ABC Standard and brings increased costs, administrative duties, and legal risks for hiring parties on multiple fronts, including, but not limited to:
    • Payroll taxes;
    • Meals, breaks and overtime policies and enforcement and premium pay;
    • Benefits;
    • Leave and PTO policies, requirements and enforcement;
    • Wage order violations;
    • Labor Code violations and Private Attorney General Actions (“PAGA”) claims;
    • Unemployment insurance; and
    • Workers’ compensation coverage, claims, and premiums.
    Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Donald A. Velez, Smith Currie
    Mr. Velez may be contacted at davelez@smithcurrie.com

    Top 10 Cases of 2019

    February 10, 2020 —
    In the 2019 edition of SDV’s Top Ten Insurance Cases, we probe wiretapping claims under an armed security services policy, delicately sniff out E&O coverage for a company using cow manure to create electricity, scour the earth for coverage for crumbling foundation claims, and inspect D&O policies for government investigation coverage. In addition, we preview some important and exciting decisions due in 2020. Without further ado, SDV raises the curtain on the most informative and influential insurance coverage decisions of 2019.1 1. ACE American Ins. Co. v. American Medical Plumbing, Inc., 206 A.3d 437 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2019) April 4, 2019 Is waiver of subrogation language in a standard AIA201 contract sufficient to bar an insurer’s subrogation rights? The New Jersey Supreme Court held that it was. Equinox Development obtained a comprehensive blanket all-risk policy with limits of $32 million per occurrence from ACE American Ins. Co. (“ACE”). The policy covered Equinox’s new project in Summit, New Jersey. Equinox hired Grace Construction as GC, who in turn subcontracted the plumbing scope of work to American Medical Plumbing, Inc. (“American”). After completion of the work under the subcontract, a water main failed and flooded the entire project. ACE paid the limits of the policy and subrogated against American to recover its losses. American argued that there was a waiver of subrogation in the AIA201 contract that barred the suit. ACE challenged the validity of the AIA provision, arguing that it applied only to claims before completion of construction and that it only applied to damage to the work itself and not to adjacent property. The court rejected both arguments, finding that the AIA provision effectively barred ACE’s subrogation claim. This decision provides guidance on a frequently used contract form for contractors across the country. Reprinted courtesy of Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C. attorneys Jeffrey J. Vita, Grace V. Hebbel and Andrew G. Heckler Mr. Vita may be contacted at jjv@sdvlaw.com Ms. Hebbel may be contacted at gvh@sdvlaw.com Mr. Heckler may be contacted at agh@sdvlaw.com Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of

    Duty to Defend Broadly Applies to Entire Action; Insured Need Not Apportion Defense Costs, Says Maryland Appeals Court

    January 27, 2020 —
    In a recent decision, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reiterated that the duty to defend broadly requires a liability insurer to defend an entire lawsuit against its insured, even where only some of the allegations are potentially covered. The court further held that the insured has no obligation to apportion defense costs among multiple implicated policies. The decision, Selective Way Insurance Company v. Nationwide Property and Casualty Insurance Company, et al., can be found here. The coverage litigation arose out of a construction defect case against a general contractor. The general contractor tendered the action to its insurer, Nationwide, which, in turn, filed a declaratory judgment action against the various insurers of construction project subcontractors that had named the general contractor as an additional insured. Ultimately, the court granted a summary judgment motion declaring that all of the subcontractors’ insurers had a duty to defend the general contractor “because the allegations in the underlying lawsuit raised claims that potentially arose from the [s]ubcontractors’ work at the [construction site].” All of the subcontractors’ insurers settled with Nationwide except for one, Selective Way; and the parties proceeded to a jury trial on various issues. The jury found for Nationwide on all issues. Selective Way appealed. Selective Way argued on appeal that even if some of the allegations were covered under its policy, it had no obligation to defend the general contractor because its insureds, the subcontractors, could not have been responsible for all of the losses given the nature of their work. Further, Selective Way contended that if it was responsible for defending the general contractor, it was not responsible for the entire defense, and the general contractor was responsible for apportioning the costs among the various subcontractors. The panel disagreed on both points. Reprinted courtesy of Michael S. Levine, Hunton Andrews Kurth and Kevin V. Small, Hunton Andrews Kurth Mr. Levine may be contacted at mlevine@HuntonAK.com Mr. Small may be contacted at ksmall@HuntonAK.com Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of

    EPA and the Corps of Engineers Repeal the 2015 “Waters of the United States” Rule

    January 13, 2020 —
    The pre-publication version of the final rule to be promulgated by EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to repeal the 2015 redefinition of the Clean Water Act’s term “Waters of the United States” which is the linchpin of these agencies’ regulatory power under the CWA, was made available on September 12, 2019. The rule should be published in the Federal Register in the next few weeks, and it will be effective 60 days thereafter. Many challenges are expected to be filed in the federal courts. The 2015 rule was very controversial, and petitions challenging the rule were filed in many federal district courts, several courts of appeal, and finally in the Supreme Court (see NAM v. Department of Defense), which held that all initial challenges must be filed in the federal district courts. The upshot of these challenges is that, at this time, the 2015 rule has been enjoined in more than half the states while the other states are bound by the 2015 rule, a situation which is frustrating for everyone. In addition to repealing the 2015 rule, the agencies also restored the pre-2015 definition had had been in place since 1986. As a result, the pre-2015 definition of waters of the U.S. will again govern the application of the following rules: (a) the ACOE’s definition of “waters of the U.S.” at 33 CFR Section 328.3; (b) EPA’s general Oil Discharge rule at 40 CFR Section 110; (c) the SPCC rules at 40 CFR Part 112; (d) EPA’s designation of hazardous substances at 40 CFR Part 116; (e) EPA’s hazardous substance reportable quantity rule at 40 CFR Part 117; (f) the NPDES permitting rules at 40 CFR Part 122; (g) the guidelines for dredged or fill disposal sites at 40 CFR Part 230; (g) Exempt activities not requiring a CWA 404 permit (guidelines for 404 disposal sites at 40 CFR Part 232); (h) the National Contingency Plan rules at 40 CFR Part 300; (i) the designation of reportable quantities of hazardous substances at 40 CFR Part 302; and (j) EPA’s Effluent Guidelines standards at 40 CFR Part 401. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Anthony B. Cavender, Pillsbury
    Mr. Cavender may be contacted at anthony.cavender@pillsburylaw.com

    Newmeyer Dillion Secures Victory For Crown Castle In Years-Long Litigation With City Council Of Piedmont Over Small Cell Wireless Telecommunications Sites

    December 30, 2019 —
    Newmeyer Dillion, a prominent business and real estate law firm, is pleased to announce that, on November 18, 2019, the City Council of the City of Piedmont unanimously voted to approve the installation of 17 small cell wireless telecommunications sites by Newmeyer Dillion client Crown Castle NG West LLC, the leading provider of shared communications infrastructure in the United States. This victory ends a long-running legal dispute over Crown Castle's small cell wireless network, which was vehemently opposed by Piedmont residents and previously rejected by the City Council, prompting Newmeyer Dillion to bring a lawsuit against the city in 2017. The dispute began in 2016 when Crown Castle filed an application with the City Council of the City of Piedmont to build nine small cell wireless sites designed to provide critical wireless telecommunications coverage in Piedmont. In October 2017, the Council denied the network, rejecting some of the proposed sites or approving others with onerous conditions. Newmeyer Dillion's Government, Land Use and Environmental practice group filed a lawsuit on behalf of Crown Castle in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in November 2017, challenging the Council's decision. Drawing from the language established in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the lawsuit alleged that Piedmont's ordinances established an unreasonably high bar of approval, unlawfully prohibiting telecommunications services in the city. The city quickly requested a court-supervised settlement, which was approved by the City Council in December 2018 and allowed Crown Castle to reapply to build 17 small cell wireless telecommunications facilities. The unanimous City Council approval came after extensive mediation work between the two parties. "We are excited that our years-long efforts have culminated in this major win for Crown Castle, allowing them to build out critical telecommunications infrastructure in the City of Piedmont," said Michael Shonafelt, partner at Newmeyer Dillion. "With the growing national need for robust telecommunications networks that can handle voice communication and modern data demands, approvals such as this are significant, not just for the community the network serves, but for the viability of the national telecommunications network as a whole. Our team is proud to be using our multidisciplinary, business-oriented approach to successfully advise clients navigating these issues." About Newmeyer Dillion For 35 years, Newmeyer Dillion has delivered creative and outstanding legal solutions and trial results for a wide array of clients. With over 70 attorneys practicing in all aspects of corporate, privacy & data security, employment, real estate, construction, insurance law and trial work, Newmeyer Dillion delivers legal services tailored to meet each client's needs. Headquartered in Newport Beach, California, with offices in Walnut Creek, California and Las Vegas, Nevada, Newmeyer Dillion attorneys are recognized by The Best Lawyers in America©, and Super Lawyers as top tier and some of the best lawyers in California, and have been given Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review's AV Preeminent® highest rating. For additional information, call 949.854.7000 or visit www.newmeyerdillion.com. Read the court decision
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    In South Carolina, Insurer's Denial of Liability Does Not Waive Attorney-Client Privilege for Bad Faith Claim

    October 14, 2019 —
    Determining the scope of discovery can be challenging, particularly when an insurance bad faith claim is involved. Courts often face the difficult decision of weighing the importance of preserving attorney-client privilege with the public policy rationale of protecting an insured against their insurer’s bad faith behavior. The Supreme Court of South Carolina recently recognized this dilemma by rejecting a hardline approach to bad faith discovery disputes and adopting a case-by-case analysis. The case, In re Mt. Hawley Ins. Co.,1 arose out of a construction defect claim. ContraVest Construction Company (“ContraVest”) constructed a development in South Carolina and was later sued for alleged defective construction. ContraVest sought coverage for the lawsuit from its insurers, including Mount Hawley Insurance Company (“Mount Hawley”), which had provided excess commercial liability insurance to ContraVest during the relevant timeframe. Mount Hawley denied the claim, which prompted ContraVest to sue it for bad faith, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment. Reprinted courtesy of Ashley L. Cooper, Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C. and Bethany L. Barrese, Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C. Ms. Cooper may be contacted at alc@sdvlaw.com Ms. Barrese may be contacted at blb@sdvlaw.com Read the court decision
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    Connecticut Supreme Court Further Refines Meaning of "Collapse"

    January 13, 2020 —
    Connecticut courts have been inundated with collapse cases the past couple of years due to insureds' living in homes that were constructed with defective concrete manufactured by J.J. Mottes Concrete Company. In a duo of cases, the Connecticut Supreme Court responded to a certified question from the U.S. District Court, holding that collapse required that the building be in imminent danger of falling down. Vera v. Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 2019 Conn. LEXIS 339 (Conn. Nov. 12, 2019). Plaintiffs had resided in their home since 2009. The home was built in 1993. In August 2015, after learning about the problem of crumbling basement walls affecting homes in their community due to cement manufactured by Mottes, they retained a structural engineer to evaluate their basement walls. The engineer found spider web cracking approximately 1/16 of an inch wide in the basement walls and three small vertical cracks. There were no visible signs of bowing. The engineer did not find that the walls were in imminent danger of falling down, but recommended that the basement walls be replaced. Plaintiffs submitted a claim under their homeowners policy to Liberty Mutual. The claim was denied. The policy did not define collapse, but stated that collapse did not include "settling, cracking, shrinking, bulging or expansion." 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