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    Endorsement Excludes Replacement of Undamaged Property with Matching Materials

    August 20, 2019 —
    The court approved the insurer's endorsement which stated the insured would not pay for undamaged property in order to match damaged property. Noonan v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 15545 (May 24, 2019). After hail and wind damaged part of the roof in the insureds' home, American Family inspected the roof and determined that it had suffered $12,000 in damage. The insureds disputed this amount and demanded an appraisal to provide a binding estimate of the amount of loss. American Family asked the appraisers to divide their estimate into two categories - one for replacing damaged shingles and another for replacing undamaged shingles that would not match those needed to replace the damaged ones. The appraisers did not do so. They instead found that replacing the entire roof would cost $141,000 and noted there was a matching issue because alternative products did not match the current shingles on the roof. Of the $141,000 needed to replace the entire roof, American Family estimated that $87,232.98 was due to the costs of matching. The insureds sued. The district court remanded the case to the appraisers to clarify the award by differentiating the costs attributable to the actual roof damage from those attributable to shingle matching. The appraisers clarified the award and reported that actual damages were $66,619, meaning that $74,381 was attributable to matching. American Family then paid the actual damages, less the deductible, but refused to pay the rest. 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

    As Some States Use the Clean Water Act to Delay Energy Projects, EPA Issues New CWA 401 Guidance

    August 26, 2019 —
    In just the past few weeks, three states have used their Clean Water Act 401 authority to delay, for an indefinite period, FERC-authorized pipeline expansion projects. On May 6, 2019, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality denied, without prejudice, Jordan Cove’s application for a Section 401 water quality certification. Jordan Cove plans to build an LNG export terminal at Coos Bay, Oregon, if it can obtain the necessary federal and permits. Under Section 401(a) of the Clean Water Act, any applicant for a federal permit to conduct any activity, including the operation of facilities which may result in any discharge into the navigable waters, shall provide the permitting agency a certification from the State in which the discharge may originate that any such discharge will comply with the applicable provisions of the Clean Water Act, including effluent limitations and state water quality standards. The States have a “reasonable time”—which shall not exceed one year after the receipt of the 401 application—in which to act, or the state’s authority may be waived by this inaction. The Oregon DEQ concluded that Jordan Cove has not demonstrated that its project, as presently configured, will satisfy state water quality standards. The 401 applications submitted by Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. (Transco) to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New York State Department of Environmental Protection were similarly rejected without prejudice on May 15, 2019 (New York) and June 5, 2019 (New Jersey). This use of the states’ 401 authority has frustrated plans to build and operate LNG pipelines around the country. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Anthony B. Cavender, Pillsbury
    Mr. Cavender may be contacted at

    Arizona Supreme Court Upholds Constitutionality of Provision Relating to Statutory Authority for Constructing and Operating Sports and Tourism Complexes

    June 18, 2019 —
    In an opinion published February 25, 2019, the Arizona Supreme Court held that Maricopa County’s surcharge on car rental agencies to fund a stadium and other sports- and tourism-related projects did not violate either the dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution or the anti-diversion provision of the Arizona Constitution, art. 9, § 14. Saban Rent-a-Car LLC v. Ariz. Dep’t of Revenue. In 2000, the Arizona Legislature created the Arizona Tourism and Sports Authority (the Authority) to build and/or operate a variety of sports-related facilities, including Major League Baseball spring training facilities, and youth and amateur sports and recreation centers. Taxes and surcharges, approved by voters, are the sole funding for the Authority’s construction projects, including the challenged surcharge in Maricopa County. This surcharge is based on the income from car rental companies leasing vehicles to customers for less than one year, and is the greater of $2.50 per rental or 3.25% of the company’s gross proceeds or income. A.R.S. § 5-839. The state treasurer deposits $2.50 per rental transaction into the Maricopa County Stadium District, as it has since 1991, and the remaining amount of the difference between $2.50 per transaction and 3.25% of the company’s gross income or proceeds is distributed to the Authority. Rental car companies often pass this surcharge on to their customers. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Amanda Z. Weaver, Snell & Wilmer
    Ms. Weaver may be contacted at

    Microsoft Urges the Construction Industry to Deliver Lifecycle Value

    June 25, 2019 —
    Digitalization is changing the way that we operate and use buildings. Salla Palos is directing Microsoft towards a future that inspires innovative changes in both the mindset and the business models of AECO industry stakeholders. Salla Palos moved from Finland to the United States in July 2015 and settled down in Seattle, one of the fastest growing areas in the USA. She was versed in digitalization of construction industry in Finland as well as Europe and sought the opportunity to bring that knowledge into the US market. As the Director of Emerging Technology and Innovation for Sellen Construction, one of the largest general contractor companies in the Pacific Northwest United States, Salla started developing digital building lifecycle as a strategy to solve number of industry problems. “I zeroed in on developing digital construction strategy, re-engineering processes, and innovating how emerging technology supports digital construction. My approach was open innovation, pulling the industry along with our own digital transformation. I set up collaboration with both local and international partners to be successful in driving change and transforming AEC,” Salla recalls. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Aarni Heiskanen, AEC Business
    Mr. Heiskanen may be contacted at

    Recent Environmental Cases: Something in the Water, in the Air and in the Woods

    July 22, 2019 —
    State of Texas, et al. v. US EPA. The revised regulatory definition of “Waters of the U.S.” continues to generate litigation in the federal courts. On May 28, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas held that the 2015 rulemaking proceedings used by EPA and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to redefine this important component of the Clean Water Act were flawed in that the notice and comment provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) were violated because insufficient notice was provided by these agencies that “adjacent” waters newly subject to the regulatory jurisdiction of these agencies, can be determined on the basis of specific distances, which was a change in the agencies’ thinking, and insufficient notice of this change was provided to the public. In addition, the final rule “also violated the APA by preventing interested parties from commenting on the scientific studies that served as the technical basis” for the rule. However, the court did not vacate the new rule, but remanded the matter to the “appropriate administrative agencies” to give them an opportunity to fix this problem. State of Oklahoma, ex rel. Mike Hunter, Attorney General of Oklahoma v. US EPA and the United States Army Corps of Engineers. A day later, on May 29, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma rejected arguments that the new redefinition should be preliminarily enjoined.While this case was filed in 2015, intervening litigation in the federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, caused a substantial delay in the disposition of this case. The court, noting that the tests for granting such an injunction against the federal government are fairly exacting, held that the plaintiffs, the State of Oklahoma and a number of industry groups and associations, failed to convince the court that the harm they would suffer if the rules remained effective would be irreparable. Presumably, this case will be going to trial in the near future. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Anthony B. Cavender, Pillsbury
    Mr. Cavender may be contacted at

    Connecticut Crumbling Concrete Cases Not Covered Under "Collapse" Provision in Homeowner's Policy

    July 01, 2019 —
    What do you do when your house falls out from underneath you? Over the last few years, homeowners in northeastern Connecticut have been suing their insurers for denying coverage for claims based on deteriorating foundations in their homes. The lawsuits, which have come to be known as the “crumbling concrete cases,” stem from the use of faulty concrete to pour foundations of approximately 35,000 homes built during the 1980s and 1990s. In order to save their homes, thousands of homeowners have been left with no other choice but to lift their homes off the crumbling foundations, tear out the defective concrete and replace it. The process typically costs between $150,000 to $350,000 per home, and homeowner’s insurers are refusing to cover the costs. As a result, dozens of lawsuits have been filed by Connecticut homeowners in both state and federal court. Of those cases, three related lawsuits against Allstate Insurance Company were the first to make it to the federal appellate level.1 The Second Circuit Court of Appeals was tasked with deciding one common issue: whether the “collapse” provision in the Allstate homeowner’s policy affords coverage for gradually deteriorating basement walls that remain standing. The Allstate policies at issue were “all-risk” policies, meaning they covered “sudden and accidental direct physical losses” to residential properties. While “collapse” losses were generally excluded, the policies did provide coverage for a limited class of “sudden and accidental” collapses, including those caused by “hidden decay,” and/or “defective methods or materials used in construction, repair or renovations.” Covered collapses did not include instances of “settling, cracking, shrinking, bulging or expansion.” Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Kerianne E. Kane, Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C.
    Ms. Kane may be contacted at

    Insurer Incorrectly Relies Upon "Your Work" Exclusion to Deny Coverage

    June 10, 2019 —
    The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's determination that there was no coverage based upon the policy's "your work" exclusion. Southern-Owners Ins. Co. v. Mac Contractors of Fla, LLC, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 10689 (11th Cir. April 11, 2019). Mac Contractors contracted with the homeowners to custom build their home. After construction began, Mac left the site before completing the project and before the issuance of a certificate of occupancy. The homeowners sued, alleged damage to wood floors and the metal roof. Southern-Owners originally agreed to defend under the CGL policy, but later withdrew the defense and filed this action for declaratory relief. The parties cross-filed motions for summary judgment. Southern-Owners argued that the "your work" exclusion applied to bar coverage. The "your work" exclusion barred coverage for "'property damage' to 'your work' arising out of it or any part of it and included in the 'products' completed operations hazard.'" The "products' completed operations hazard" included all "'property damage' occurring away from premises you own or rent and arising out of . . . 'your work' except . . . (1) products that are still in your physical possession; or (2) work that has not yet been completed or abandoned." 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

    Plan Ahead for the Inevitable Murphy’s Law Related Accident

    August 06, 2019 —
    For this week’s Guest Post Friday here at Construction Law Musings, we welcome back Melissa Dewey Brumback. Melissa (@melissabrumback) is a construction attorney and partner in the firm Ragsdale Liggett, PLLC in Raleigh. Melissa has spent over a decade representing engineers and architects, advising them on contract proposals to limit risks, and defending them when litigation does arise. She is the author of the award-winning Construction Law in North Carolina a blog dedicated to the A/E community. Melissa is rated AV, the best rating of the Martindale Hubbell lawyer rating system, is a certified LEED Green Associate, and serves as President of the RL Mace Universal Design Institute. She is also signed up to take a cruise this summer with her family (!). The recent cruise ship fiasco, in which thousands were stranded at sea for an entire week with no running water or toilet facilities, visibly brought to mind the old axiom to “Be Prepared.” As Chris likes to say, Murphy was an optimist. What does this have to do with your construction company? Plenty. Since time is money and a downed project extremely expensive, you should plan in advance for likely emergency situations. Some things to consider: 1. Emergency Contacts: Do you only have a cell number for your key project manager? You should have at least two ways to reach all key employees and subcontractors, as well as owner representatives and the designers of record. Consider that in a large emergency, sometimes entire cell phone towers are out of commission from overuse. A land line comes in awfully handy in such a situation. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill
    Mr. Hill may be contacted at