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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
    Local # 1073
    PO Box 420
    Marianna, FL 32447

    Grand Ridge Florida Expert Witness Engineer 10/ 10

    Tallahassee Builders Association Inc
    Local # 1064
    1835 Fiddler Court
    Tallahassee, FL 32308

    Grand Ridge Florida Expert Witness Engineer 10/ 10

    Building Industry Association of Okaloosa-Walton Cos
    Local # 1056
    1980 Lewis Turner Blvd
    Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547

    Grand Ridge Florida Expert Witness Engineer 10/ 10

    Home Builders Association of West Florida
    Local # 1048
    4400 Bayou Blvd Suite 45
    Pensacola, FL 32503

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    Florida Home Builders Association (State)
    Local # 1000
    PO Box 1259
    Tallahassee, FL 32302

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    Columbia County Builders Association
    Local # 1007
    PO Box 7353
    Lake City, FL 32055

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    Northeast Florida Builders Association
    Local # 1024
    103 Century 21 Dr Ste 100
    Jacksonville, FL 32216

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    Expert Witness Engineer News and Information
    For Grand Ridge Florida


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    GRAND RIDGE FLORIDA EXPERT WITNESS ENGINEER
    DIRECTORY AND CAPABILITIES

    The Grand Ridge, Florida Expert Witness Engineer 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. Leveraging from this considerable body of experience, BHA provides construction related trial support and expert services to Grand Ridge'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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    The Importance of Preliminary Notices on Private Works Projects

    September 03, 2019 —
    Time and time again I receive calls from subcontractors and suppliers who find themselves faced with a customer who is either unwilling or unable to pay for labor or materials supplied for a private works project. As an attorney, the first question I usually ask is “did you serve a Preliminary Notice?” The second question I usually ask is “did you serve the Notice within twenty (20) days after first furnishing labor, service, equipment or materials to the job site?” The answers to these questions will often determine the ability to collect on the claim. The excuses for failing to serve the Preliminary Notice range from “for the last ten years the customer has always paid on time” to “I didn’t want to imply the contractor was not going to pay me” to “it is too much trouble to do on every job” or, simply, “I forgot”. Contractors and suppliers are well advised that any subcontractor or supplier who fails to properly and timely serve a Preliminary Notice is depriving itself of the most powerful tool available for compelling payment of construction related debt on a private works project. For all but the smallest contracts failure to serve the Preliminary Notice is also a violation of contractors’ license law and constitutes grounds for discipline by the Contractor State License Board, up to and including suspension of the contractor’s license. Most of these rules are found in California Civil Code Section 8200-8216. The requirements of these sections are far too numerous to itemize here. Suffice it to say every contractor, subcontractor and construction material supplier to private construction projects should be familiar with these sections of the California Civil Code. They set forth most of the rules which relate to Preliminary Notices on private construction projects. Some of the most important features are as follows: Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of William L. Porter, Porter Law Group
    Mr. Porter may be contacted at bporter@porterlaw.com

    Key Amendments to Insurance Claims-Handling Regulations in Puerto Rico

    September 23, 2019 —
    Policyholders in Puerto Rico should be aware of significant benefits provided by recent amendments to the Insurance Code. New rules establish an expedited method of property insurance dispute resolution, mandatory expedited partial payments in the event of catastrophic events, and protection against bad faith claims handling by insurers. Appraisal Process with a Puerto Rican Twist A key amendment is the establishment of an appraisal process, widely used for many years in the United States and now adopted in Puerto Rico. Commercial and personal property insurers in Puerto Rico shall include, in their policies, a clause for an appraisal process according to Article 11.150 of the Insurance Code of Puerto Rico, 26 L.P.R.A. § 101 et seq. (“the Code”). The appraisal process provides both policyholders and insurers the option to submit insurance claims to an impartial umpire if a dispute arises over the value of covered damages or losses. The umpire and appraisers do not have authority to resolve coverage or legal issues. They can only resolve disputes over the quantum claimed for losses already determined to be covered by the insurer. Id. Each party is required to pay its own appraiser’s fees and split equally the fees of the umpire. Id. Reprinted courtesy of Andres Avila, Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C. and Richard W. Brown, Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C. Mr. Avila may be contacted at ara@sdvlaw.com Mr. Brown may be contacted at rwb@sdvlaw.com Read the court decision
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    Georgia Supreme Court Addresses Anti-Indemnity Statute

    October 21, 2019 —
    In prior blog posts, we addressed Georgia’s anti-indemnity statute. One of the posts addressed the statute in the context of an electric utility easement near an airport. That case made its way to the Supreme Court Georgia, which provided some additional clarity to the statute. Milliken & Co. v. Georgia Power Co., — Ga. –, 829 S.E.2d 111 (2019). When a plane crashed and several passengers and crew died or were injured, their representatives sued several defendants, including a nearby plant owner, Milliken & Company (“Milliken”), based on claims that transmission lines on Milliken’s property were too close to the runways, were too high, and encroached on the airport easements. Milliken cross claimed against Georgia Power Company (“GPC”). Milliken’s claim was based on an easement it granted to GPC, which required GPC to indemnify it for any claims arising out of GPC’s construction or maintenance of the transmission lines. On appeal, the Supreme Court considered whether the clause was unenforceable under O.C.G.A. § 13-8-2(b). In general, “a party may contract away liability to the other party for the consequences of his own negligence without contravening public policy, except when such agreement it prohibited by statute.” Id. at 113 citing Lanier at McEver v. Planners & Eng’rs Collaborative, 284 Ga. 204, 205 (2008). As one such statute, O.C.G.A. § 13-8-2(b) applies when an indemnification provision (i) “relates in some way to a contract for construction, alteration, repair, or maintenance of certain property” and (ii) “promises to indemnify a party for damages arising from that own party’s sole negligence.” Id. at 114 (internal punctuation omitted). Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of David R. Cook, Autry, Hall & Cook, LLP
    Mr. Cook may be contacted at cook@ahclaw.com

    Short-Term Rental Legislation & Litigation On the Way!

    November 18, 2019 —
    The advent of the shared economy in the real estate context has provided homeowners and investors alike with expanded opportunities to generate revenue from the use of their real estate. Airbnb and VRBO are two of the most popular companies facilitating short-term rental availability. The rapid growth in this shared real estate economy has served as a disruptor of sorts to the traditional hotel and hospitality industry, causing that industry to revisit its own models in order to better compete. The popularity of short-term rental use, however, has created a whole new set of problems about which property owners, state and local governments, renters, and those impacted by the explosion of short-term rentals should be aware. Among other things, without more, most traditional homeowners’ policies will not cover the insured property’s use for commercial purposes – a problem similar to the early rideshare providers. Full and part-time resident owners who previously enjoyed a greater certainty with respect to their neighbors are today frustrated by the revolving door of vacationers, revelers, wedding attendees and similar nontraditional uses of neighborhood residential property. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Patrick J. Paul, Snell & Wilmer
    Mr. Paul may be contacted at ppaul@swlaw.com

    Ruling Closes the Loop on Restrictive Additional Insured Endorsement – Reasonable Expectations of Insured Builder Prevails Over Intent of Insurer

    July 31, 2019 —
    On June 5, 2019, the Court of Appeal in McMillin Homes Construction, Inc. v. National Fire & Marine Insurance Company, 35 Cal. App. 5th 1042 (Cal. Ct. App. 2019) issued an important opinion on the scope of additional insured insurance coverage for developers and general contractors in California. Specifically, the “care, custody and control” (“CCC”) exclusion will be read to only exclude coverage for additional insureds who exercised exclusive control over the damaged property. Thus, general contractors who share control of the property with their subcontractors, as is typical on most projects, will not be denied coverage under this exclusion. I. Facts & Procedural History McMillin Homes Construction, Inc. was a Southern California developer and general contractor. In 2014, homeowners sued McMillin for roofing defects in a case called Galvan v. McMillin Auburn Lane II, LLC. Pursuant to a subcontract, the roofer, Martin Roofing Company, Inc., provided McMillin with additional insured coverage under Martin’s general liability insurance policy. The insurer, National Fire and Marine Insurance Company, covered McMillin under an ISO Form CG 20 09 03 97 Additional Insured (“AI”) endorsement. After McMillin tendered its defense of the Galvan lawsuit under the AI endorsement, National Fire declined to provide McMillin with a defense to the homeowners’ lawsuit, relying on a CCC exclusion contained in the AI endorsement for property in the care, custody or control of the additional insured. McMillin then sued National Fire for breach of the policy, bad faith and declaratory relief in McMillin Homes Construction, Inc. v. National Fire & Marine Insurance Company. In McMillin Homes, the trial court found the CCC exclusion in the AI endorsement applied and held in favor of the insurer, National Fire. The trial court found the exclusion for damage to property in McMillin’s “care, custody, or control” precluded coverage for the roofing defect claims, as well as any duty on the part of the insurer to defend the home builder, McMillin. McMillin filed an appeal from the trial court’s ruling. II. Case Holding The Court of Appeal reversed to hold in favor of McMillin, interpreting the CCC exclusion narrowly and finding a duty on the part of the insurer to defend the general contractor pursuant to the AI endorsement on the roofer’s insurance policy. It held that for the CCC exclusion to attach, it would require the general contractor’s exclusive control over the damaged property, but here, the general contractor shared control with the roofer. The Court of Appeal noted that where there is ambiguity as to whether a duty to defend exists, the court favors the reasonable belief of the insured over the intent of the insurer. Here, that reasonable belief was that the coverage applied and the exclusion was narrow. The Court of Appeal relied upon Home Indemnity Co. v. Leo L. Davis, Inc., 79 Cal. App. 3d 863 (Ct. App. 1978) (“Davis”), as a judicial interpretation of the CCC exclusion. That case synthesized a string of case law into a single conclusion: that courts may hold the exclusion inapplicable where the insured’s control is not exclusive. In the opinion in McMillin Homes, coverage turned upon whether control was exclusive: “[t]he exclusion is inapplicable where the facts at best suggest shared control.” The Court of Appeal stated the “need for painstaking evaluation of the specific facts of each case. Here, McMillin coordinated the project’s scheduling, but Martin furnished the materials and labor and oversaw the work; they therefore shared control. Even if the rule in Davis did not apply and the exclusion was found to be ambiguous, the court stated that “control” requires a higher threshold than merely acting as a general contractor. Liability policies are presumed to include defense duties and exclusions must be “conspicuous, plain, and clear.” Furthermore, because “construction defect litigation is typically complex and expensive, a key motivation [for the endorsement] is to offset the cost of defending lawsuits where the general contractor’s liability is claimed to be derivative.” This is especially true because the duty to defend is triggered by a mere potential of coverage. Under the insurer’s construction of the exclusion, coverage would be so restrictive under the AI endorsement that it was nearly worthless to the additional insured. III. Reasonable Expectation of the Insured Prevails over the Intent of the Insurer Like most commercial general liability policies, National Fire’s policy excluded coverage for property damage Martin was contractually obliged to pay, with an exception for “insured contracts.” Typically, “insured contracts” include prospective indemnification agreements for third party claims. The National Fire policy contained a form CG 21 39 Contractual Liability Limitation endorsement, which deleted indemnity agreements from the definition of “insured contracts” to effectively preclude coverage for the indemnity provision between McMillin and Martin. National Fire argued that this endorsement demonstrated its intent to exclude coverage to McMillin for the homeowners’ defect lawsuit. The Court of Appeal stated that the insurer’s intent is not controlling and that the insureds reasonable expectation under the AI endorsement would control. As a result of its ruling, the Court also dealt a significant blow to the argument that the CG 21 39 endorsement is effective as a total bar to additional insured coverage for all construction defect claims. IV. Conclusion The decision is good news for developers and general contractors who rely on subcontractors to provide additional insured coverage. Unless the general contractor exercises exclusive control over a given project, the CCC exclusion in the CG 20 09 03 97 additional insured endorsement may not preclude the duty to defend. Demonstrating that a general contractor exercised exclusive control over the project would be extremely difficult to show under normal project circumstances because the any subcontractor participation appears to eliminate the general contractor’s exclusive control. The case also highlights the need for construction professionals to regularly review their insurance programs with their risk management team (lawyers, brokers, and risk managers). As is often the case, a basic insurance policy review at the outset of the McMillin project could likely have avoided the entire dispute. For owners and general contractors, CG 20 10 (ongoing operations) and CG 20 37 (completed operations) additional insured forms are preferable to the CG 20 09 form at issue in the McMillin case because they do not contain the CCC exclusion. The CG 20 10 and 20 37 forms are readily available in the marketplace and are commonly added to most policies upon request. Had those forms been added, AI coverage likely would have been extended to McMillin without the need for litigation. Similarly, carriers will routinely delete the CG 21 39 Contractual Liability Limitation endorsement upon request. Deletion of the CG 21 39 would have circumvented National Fire’s second argument in its entirety. Additionally, insurance policies, endorsements, and exclusions are subject to revision and are not always issued on standard forms. As a result, it is incumbent upon developers, contractors, and subcontractors to specify the precise overage requirements for construction projects and to review all endorsements, certificates, and policies carefully. Due to the difficulty in monitoring compliance with insurance requirements, project owners and general contractors are finding that it is better to insure projects under project specific wrap-up insurance programs which eliminate many of the issues pertaining to additional insured coverage. Wrap-up programs vary greatly as to their terms and conditions, so however a project is insured, insurance requirements and evidence of coverage should be carefully reviewed by experienced and qualified risk managers, brokers, and legal counsel to assure that projects and parties are sufficiently covered. Gibbs Giden is nationally and locally recognized by U. S. News and Best Lawyers as among the “Best Law Firms” in both Construction Law and Construction Litigation. Chambers USA Directory of Leading Lawyers has consistently recognized Gibbs Giden as among California’s elite construction law firms. The authors can be reached at tsenet@gibbsgiden.com (Theodore Senet); jadams@gibbsgiden.com (Jason Adams) and ccalvin@gibbsgiden.com (Clayton Calvin). Read the court decision
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    Montana Supreme Court: Insurer Not Bound by Insured's Settlement

    December 02, 2019 —
    In Draggin’ Y Cattle Co., Inc. v. Junkermier, et al.1 the Montana Supreme Court held that where an insurer defends its insured and the insured subsequently settles the claims without an insurer’s participation, a court may approve the settlement as between the underlying plaintiff and underlying defendant, but the settlement will not be presumed reasonable as to the insurer. Therefore, an insurer who defends its insured cannot be bound by a stipulated settlement that the insurer did not expressly consent to. The case involved Draggin’ Y Cattle Company (the “Cattle Company”), a ranching and cattle business that utilized the services of an accounting firm, Junkermier, Clark, Campanella, Stevens, P.C. (“Junkermier”), to structure the sale of real property to take advantage of favorable tax treatment. It was discovered that Junkermier’s employee misinformed the Cattle Company’s owners of the tax consequences of the sale. The Cattle Company’s owners subsequently filed suit against Junkermier and its employee and alleged nearly $12,000,000 in damages due to the error. Junkermier’s insurer, New York Marine, provided a defense for Junkermier and its employee. The Cattle Company’s owners offered to settle the claims against Junkermier and its employee for $2,000,000, the policy limit of the New York Marine policy. New York Marine refused to give its consent or tender the policy’s limit. Subsequently, Junkermier, its employee, and the Cattle Company entered into their own settlement agreement for $10,000,000. The settlement was contingent upon a reasonableness hearing to approve the stipulated agreement. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of K. Alexandra Byrd, Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C.
    Ms. Byrd may be contacted by kab@sdvlaw.com

    Consider the Risks Associated with an Exculpatory Clause

    November 24, 2019 —
    An exculpatory clause in a contract is a clause aimed at relieving another party from certain liability. A disclaimer and insulation from liability. Obviously, if you are the party relieving the other party from liability, you want to consider this risk including the potential enforceability of this risk if something goes wrong. If you are the party asking for the insulation from liability, you do not want to create an exculpatory provision that disclaims and insulates you of all liability arising from the contract as it may create an illusory effect – that the agreement is nothing but a naked promise on your end because your promise is fully disclaimed and you are insulated from liability if you break your promise. This could result in an unenforceable contract. The validity of such an exculpatory clause was at-issue in Pier 1 Cruise Experts v. Revelex Corp., 2019 WL 3024618 (11thCir. 2019). Although not a construction dispute, the exculpatory clause in this case was with two fairly sophisticated parties and expressly insulated one of the contracting parties from “any…damages regardless of kind or type…whether in contract, tort (including negligence), or otherwise.” Pier 1 Cruise Experts, 2019 WL at *7. This is a powerful exculpatory clause because it could be broadly construed to insulate that party from its own breaches of the contract. In Florida:
    [A]n exculpatory clause is enforceable so long as (1) the contracting parties have equal bargaining power and (2) the clause’s provisions are clear and unambiguous. With respect to the latter requirement, ‘the intention to be relieved from liability [must be] made clear and unequivocal and the wording must be so clear and understandable that an ordinary and knowledgeable person will know what he is contracting away.” In the same vein, exculpatory clauses are ‘strictly construed against the party seeking to be relieved of liability.’ Pier 1 Cruise Experts, 2019 WL at *7 (internal citations omitted).
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    Reprinted courtesy of David Adelstein, Kirwin Norris, P.A.
    Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at dma@kirwinnorris.com

    Ahead of the Storm: Preparing for Dorian

    September 16, 2019 —
    While Hurricane Dorian churns in the Atlantic with its sights currently set on the east coast of Florida, storm preparations should be well underway. As you are busy organizing efforts to secure your job sites, we at Peckar & Abramson offer some quick reminders that may prove helpful:
    • Review your contracts, particularly the force majeure provisions, and be sure to comply with applicable notice requirements
    • Even if not expressly required at this time, consider providing written notice to project owners that their projects are being prepared for a potential hurricane or tropical storm and that the productivity and progress of the work will be affected, with the actual time and cost impact to be determined after the event.
    • Consult your hurricane plan (which is often a contract exhibit) and confirm compliance with all specified safety, security and protection measures.
    • Provide written notice to your subcontractors and suppliers of the actions they are required to take to secure and protect their portions of the work and the timetable for completion of their storm preparations.
    Reprinted courtesy of Peckar & Abramson, PC attorneys Adam P. Handfinger, Stephen H. Reisman and Gary M. Stein Mr. Handfinger may be contacted at ahandfinger@pecklaw.com Mr. Reisman may be contacted at sreisman@pecklaw.com Mr. Stein may be contacted at gstein@pecklaw.com Read the court decision
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