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Construction Law Authority / Articles posted by webmaster

Becker & Poliakoff Wins Multi-Million Dollar Jury Verdict In Landmark Construction Case

Jury Finds Subsidiary of National Developer Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. Liable for Breach of Contract and Violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act MORRISTOWN, NJ & FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – June 5, 2017 – Becker & Poliakoff secured a landmark $9 million-plus jury verdict Thursday against a subsidiary of Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: HOV). The award includes punitive (treble) damages for violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and also entitles the plaintiff to recover attorneys’ fees, costs and prejudgment interest. The jury found that Hovnanian Enterprises used the subsidiary as an instrument to commit a fraud or injustice on purchasers of condominium units. The ultimate recovery against all parties, including the project architect and geotechnical engineer, could exceed $20 million. After a six-week trial in New Jersey Superior Court (Docket No. HUD-L-2560-13), the jury agreed that Hovnanian, after learning that the condominium building was being improperly constructed with plywood flooring...

Becker & Poliakoff Construction Practice Group Receives Top Ranking in 2017 Chambers USA Guide

Ft. Lauderdale, May 26, 2017 — The 2017 Chambers USA Guide, one of the legal profession’s most preeminent rankings directories, has ranked Becker & Poliakoff’s Construction Law and Litigation Group and its chairman, Steven Lesser, in its top tier of Florida’s construction law practices and attorneys. In addition to the entire group and Mr. Lesser’s Band 1 ranking, shareholders Lee A. Weintraub and Sanjay Kurian received high rankings. Chambers selects attorneys and practices for inclusion based on thousands of interviews with practicing lawyers and clients worldwide. Attorneys, practice areas and firms are ranked by placement in “bands,” with Band 1 being the highest ranking. Chambers’ sources praise the Construction Group’s commitment to client service, with one interviewee noting: “I would describe them as being highly reliable and delivering terrific client service.” Another interviewee said: “My impression of the team is excellent — nothing dropped through the tracks! Monthly billing was clear and...

William Cea Wins Summary Judgment in Federal Bid Protest Case

Becker & Poliakoff attorneys, led by shareholder William Cea, have secured a significant court ruling in favor of their client, Premier Parks, ending this case and providing for open competition to bid on a future water park planned for 65 acres in Fort Lauderdale (Premier Parks v. City of Fort Lauderdale). Premier Parks, the parent company of Rapids Water Park in Riviera Beach, filed suit in October 2015 after the City tried to allow Schlitterbahn, a waterpark operator, to build on a 65-acre property owned by the City, including the existing Ft. Lauderdale and Lockhart Stadium facilities. After buying out the Federal Government’s interest in the land in 2015, the City agreed to enter into a 30-year lease with Schlitterbahn. Premier Parks argued that the City should have been required to obtain competitive bids for the project and the court agreed. Gary Rosen, managing shareholder of Becker & Poliakoff, said: "This was a challenging case and we believed in our...

What law applies to your Construction Contract – Simple or Not?

You have a construction contract for work to be done on a project in Florida. Although hoping that all goes well, it’s your belief that if any legal issues arise, Florida law would apply. That may be correct, since Florida law would generally apply to issues concerning the performance of such a contract. However, that may not be correct. What if your construction contract has a choice of law provision that specifies the law of a state other than Florida applies? That will likely require a further analysis regarding issues that could include but are not necessarily limited to what legal, equitable, contractual, and tort-type matters are at issue, are those matters encompassed within the particular choice of law provision, are there procedural and substantive issues to be considered, will the enforcement of the choice of law provision violate Florida public policy, what do Florida’s choice of law rules indicate will...

Concrete Repairs – Some Matters to Consider

Concrete generally consists of three components: (a) water, (b) an aggregate material such as sand, gravel, or stone, and (c) cement. In condominiums, concrete is often used in the formation of the shell of the building, with further support and strength being provided by reinforcing steel located within a condominium’s concrete slabs, balconies, and columns.  Over time, exposure to atmospheric conditions, including but not limited to, items such as chloride ions or carbon dioxide (through a process known as carbonation), may cause or contribute to the corrosion of reinforcing steel located within concrete. Other factors may also contribute to this corrosion process. When this reinforcing steel corrodes rust can form, with a resultant volume that is greater than the volume of the original reinforcing steel. Rust can also adversely affect the bonding between the reinforcing steel and the surrounding concrete, with the potential for cracking, spalling, rupturing, and delamination of...

Cutting-Edge Tools Can Save Owner Headaches…And Money

Construction lawyers throughout the country have long preached the importance of proper construction documentation to owners and developers alike. Comprehensive documentation of a project is essential to protect owners; especially in the quick-build environment we are experiencing now. Fortunately, there are several companies providing powerful tools that are invaluable to the mitigation of claims and overall protection of the owner and/or developer. One example is Multivista, a leader in photographic construction documentation. Multivista offers state-of-the-art construction photography and video documentation. Their products include interactive visual as-built documentation, construction webcams, and inspection-grade photos of the project. Other core competencies include “Facility Management Information,” which is the process of converting documentation manuals and warranty information into an indexed, integrated system that is accessible via computer. Put more simply, imagine if a building manager could scan building components such as doors and windows to immediately pull up installation and warranty information. The result is a...

Safety First: Public Safety vs. Due Process

Does public safety take precedence over due process in a pending litigation? An on-going construction defects case in Las Vegas, Nevada recently addressed this concern.  Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez recently approved a petition to demolish the Harmon Hotel—a never-opened 26-story structure fronting Las Vegas Boulevard between the Crystals shopping center and the Cosmopolitan resort—acknowledging the public safety risk if the building were to collapse during an earthquake. The Harmon was originally was designed to be a 40-story boutique hotel but has sat unfinished, as a costly Cirque du Soleil billboard since construction was halted in 2010 after the discovery of defects involving missing or improperly installed reinforcing steel.  The owner, CityCenter, blames Tutor-Perini, the general contractor and its subcontractors saying demolition is the surest way to deal with the dangerous structure.  The general contractor was sure the Harmon could be repaired and claims CityCenter is just trying to get rid...

Florida courts’ application of the “new” economic loss rule since Tiara Condominium Ass’n, Inc. v. Marsh & McLennan, Cos., Inc.

The Florida Supreme Court’s March 7, 2013 decision in Tiara Condominium Ass'n, Inc. v. Marsh & McLennan, Cos., Inc., 110 So. 3d 399 (Fla. 2013), limited application of the economic loss rule [a judicially created doctrine that sets forth the circumstances under which a tort claim is prohibited if the only damages suffered are economic losses] to product liability matters. So, how have Florida courts analyzed the application of the economic loss rule since this March 7, 2013 decision? In short, Florida courts appear to be allowing non-contractual claims, such as fraud, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of fiduciary duty to proceed, notwithstanding the existence of a contractual relationship. F.D.I.C. v. Floridian Title Group Inc., 2013 WL 5237362 (S.D.Fla. Sept. 17, 2013).(denying a defendant’s motion to dismiss breach of fiduciary duty and negligence claims based upon the economic loss rule and rejecting an argument that these claims were in reality inextricably intertwined...

When is a mandatory contractual venue clause in a construction contract not mandatory?

As a subcontractor, you enter into a contract with a general contractor to perform construction work on a project located in a certain county in Florida. The contract, however, has a carefully worded mandatory venue clause stating that the venue for any lawsuit brought for breach of the contract shall be in a different county in Florida. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse on the project. The general contractor does not pay you. Accordingly, you file a Claim of Lien. In turn, the general contractor transfers your lien to a bond pursuant to Florida Statute § 713.24; with the bond being posted in the clerk’s office of the county of the project’s location. Now you need to file suit. You elect to sue for both a breach of the contract and for an action on your lien that was transferred to a bond (also known as a lien transfer bond)....

Florida adopts the Daubert standard for admissibility of expert testimony

Experts can play an integral role in construction disputes. At times construction litigation becomes a battle of the experts. Consequently, it is important to use an expert(s) that is not only well versed in his or her field, but an expert who is also able to provide admissible expert opinions in litigation. With the passage of House Bill 7015, effective July 1, 2013 and amendment of Florida Statute § 90.702 (Testimony by Experts), Florida has abolished the former Frye standard for the admissibility of expert testimony. See, Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C.Cir.1923), adopted by the Florida Supreme Court in Bundy v. State, 471 So.2d 9 (Fla.1985). The prior version of Florida Statute § 90.702 provided that: 90.702 Testimony by experts.—If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or in determining a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by...