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Construction Law Authority / Articles posted by Sanjay Kurian (Page 2)

Proposed Legislation Will Hurt Owners by Shortening Timeframe to Bring Claims

In addition to the proposed legislation to substantially change Chapter 558, link here, the Legislature is considering other legislation that will materially impact owners and taxpayers.  HB501 proposes to reduce the time owners have to pursue construction defect claims from 10 after completion to 7 years after completion.  Specifically, the proposed legislation reduces the time frame within which a claim can be brought for latent defects (a defect you did not know about or had no reason to know about) in the design, planning or construction of improvements to real property from the current 10 years to 7 years.  This reduction of time to pursue claims apply to claims where the building code was violated.  Why should Florida provide less protection to owners when historically, and now again, the biggest building booms have been occurring in Florida.  Even the AIA Form Agreements, not always owner friendly, provide for a 10 year...

Proposed Legislation to change Chapter 558

The Legislature will be considering legislation this year to change Chapter 558, Florida Statutes.  Chapter 558 is  required process for any party seeking to pursue claims for construction defects.  The original goal of Chapter 558 was to provide an opportunity to settle defect claims without litigation or arbitration, and not to create another source of dispute or litigation.  This bill is contrary to that original intent. The proposed bill would create new rights and defeats any realistic hope to amicably resolve claims as more fully explained below.  These changes, if enacted, will negatively impact all owners of construction improvements including hospitals, doctor's offices, school buildings, condominiums, single family homes and commercial buildings.  The proposed legislation can be found here and the specific problems are noted below. Lines 66-76: Requiring the notice to specify the location of each alleged defect is impossible relative to any structure of any size.  To require a claimant...

Supreme Court decides Maronda Homes v. Lakeview Reserve

The Supreme Court issued its opinion in the Maronda Homes, Inc. of Florida v. Lakeview Reserve Homeowners Association, Inc., case earlier today. I previously blogged about the case and its ramifications on Florida’s common law implied warranties here. Subsequent to oral argument in that case the legislature enacted Section 553.835, Florida Statutes, which abrogated all common law implied warranties for “off site improvements” as noted here and here. The opinion recounts at length the procedural and factual history of the underlying case as well as the status of the law regarding common law implied warranties. It is the Supreme Court’s most comprehensive recitation of this area of the law since Gable v. Silver in 1972 and Conklin v. Hurley in 1983.  The original question dealt with whether the underlying 5th District Court of Appeal’s decision was correct, or if a prior 4th District Court of Appeal decision in Port Sewall v. First...

Design Professional Liability Legislation (Again)

For the third year in a row, the state legislature has introduced legislation to protect architects, engineers and other design professionals from claims for negligence in the performance of their professional services. In 2010 a bill passed both legislative houses but was vetoed by Governor Crist. Last year the bill did not get as far, but apparently proponents of the bill believe the third time may be the charm. Unfortunately, as in prior years this legislation is anti-consumer. Senate Bill 286, linked here, would provide that architects or engineers would no longer be personally liable for negligence arising out of their professional services. This would essentially limit people hiring these design professionals to breach of contract claims against the design professional’s business entity. This is a problem because most design contracts limit the design professional’s liability to some paltry amount that pales in comparison to the harm that comes from defective design. The steps that the...

Tropical Storm Isaac – Update

Isaac is slowly moving and appears to be taking a more westward trajectory.  Per the National Hurricane Center: A Hurricane Warning is in effect for: The Florida Keys including the Dry Tortugas, The West Coast of Florida from Bonita Beach southward and Florida Bay. This means that hurricane conditions are expected in these areas and the tropical storm force winds can be expected in 36 hours. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Florida East Coast from Golden Beach southward. This means that hurricane conditions are possible (as opposed to expected) within the next 24-36 hours. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for: Inland Collier County, the Florida East Coast from Jupiter Inlet southward and Lake Okeechobee. This means that tropical storm conditions are expected in these areas within 36 hours. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Florida East Coast north of Jupiter Inlet to Sebastian Inlet. This means that tropical storm conditions...

Hurricane Isaac Preparedness

As of 8AM this morning, the entire state of Florida is in the 5-day projected path for Tropical Storm Isaac. Isaac is predicted to become a hurricane before hitting Cuba. If you want to follow Isaac's path you can go to www.noaa.gov and do so. Although things may change it is always best to be prepared. For individuals this means securing adequate food, water and medication as well as ensuring personal safety along with the safety of loved ones and pets. For Condominium and Homeowner Associations Becker & Poliakoff has a 12-point Hurricane Preparedness Checklist to prepare for Hurricane Isaac: 1. Disaster Plan – If you have a disaster plan be ready to implement it. At a minimum, designate a responsible community member as Disaster Plan Coordinator and another as Information Facilitator to field queries and respond to from community members. These individuals should be outside the impacted areas so that they...

Governor Declares State of Emergency

As a result of Tropical Storm Debby, the Governor has issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in the entire state of Florida.  The order does several things including (I will not go through the entire list here): - Activates the State's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and appoints the Director of the Division of Emergency Management as the State Coordinating Officer ("SCO"). - Activates the Florida National Guard and places them under the direction of the SCO. - Allows state, regional and local agencies to deviate from statutes, rules and orders to the extent that such actions are needed to cope with the emergency. This includes, but is not limited to, budgeting, leasing, travel, conditions of employment and compensation of employees. This provision expires within 30 days of the order unless extended by the Governor. - Allows pharmacists to dispense a 30-day prescription refill for maintenance medication. - Gives Agency heads the authority to abrogate any applications for permits and licenses...

HB 1013 signed by Governor Scott

Governor Scott signed HB 1013 into law late last week.  The legislation will take effect on July 1, 2012, and attempts to wipe out all common law implied warranties, including for pending litigation.  I think there are significant constitutional issues as applied to pending claims. We may find out quickly as the Lakeview v. Maronda case is still pending before the Supreme Court.  The Court may be able to address the scope of the warranty and also the constitutionality issue at one time. It will be an interesting decision but may be one of limited value going forward....

Article on HB 1013 in Miami Herald

Today's Miami Herald has an article, by Toluse Olorunnipa, about the ongoing battle over HB1013.  The Governor's office has received over 1,000 emails in recent days opposing the legislation. Opposition to the legislation outnumbers the supporters by a nearly 4-1 margin.  Per Governor Scott's deputy press secretary “The Governor is currently reviewing the bill and will make a decision in the allotted timeframe.”  The whole article is worth reading here.  As usual proponents of the legislation throw out the phrase "judicial activism" which completely ignores that the entire implied warranty was created by the judiciary to overcome another judicial doctrine, caveat emptor.  I have discussed the merits of the bill on numerous posts on the blog so I will not repeat them.  I know the Governor's office has been in touch with proponents and opponents of the bill to obtain information.  The best thing to do at this point is to continue contacting Governor Scott's...

HB 1013 (SB 1196) presented to Governor Scott

HB 1013, which eliminates common law implied warranties in common areas of all communities in the state, was sent Friday to Governor Rick Scott for his consideration. Governor Scott has until April 28, 2012 to act on the bill. He can sign the bill into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature. This legislation leaves Florida home buyers with no protections for shared amenities and thereby shifts the burden for repairs to the homeowners and we urge Governor Scott to veto HB 1013. If you have not yet contacted Governor Scott, please do so and urge him to veto HB 1013. It is the only way to prevent this bill from becoming law.  You can e-mail Governor Scott at Rick.Scott@eog.myflorida.com and copy his Legislative Affairs Director, Jon Costello, at Jon.Costello@eog.myflorida.com. You can copy and paste the following suggested text in your message to the Governor: Please veto HB 1013, which eliminates common law...