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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

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

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

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

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    Local # 1000
    PO Box 1259
    Tallahassee, FL 32302

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    Jacksonville, FL 32216

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    NOMA FLORIDA EXPERT WITNESS ENGINEER
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    The Noma, 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 Noma'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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    Know When Your Claim “Accrues” or Risk Losing It

    August 20, 2019 —
    I have discussed statutes of limitation on construction claims in various contexts from issues with a disconnect on state projects to questions of continuous breach here at Construction Law Musings. For those that are first time readers, the statute of limitations is the time during which a plaintiff can bring its claim, whether under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCPA), for breach of contract, or for any other legal wrong that was done to him, her or it by another. The range of limitations runs the gamut of times, for instance it is 5 years for breach of a written contract and 6 months for enforcement of a mechanic’s lien. This time period is calculated from the “accrual” of the right of action. “Accrual” is, in general terms, when the plaintiff was originally harmed or should have known it was harmed (depending on the particular cause of action). A recent case out of the Circuit Court of Norfolk, Virginia examined when a cause of action for a construction related claim under the VCPA accrued and thus whether the plaintiff’s claim was timely. In Hyde Park Free Will Baptist Church v. Skye-Brynn Enterprises Inc., the Court looked at the following basic facts (pay attention to the dates): The Plaintiff, Hyde Park Baptist Church, hired the Defendant, Skye-Brynn Enterprises, Inc., to perform certain roof repairs that were “completed” in 2015. Shortly after the work was done, in 2015, the Plaintiff informed Defendant that the roof still leaked and that some leaks were worse than before. The Defendant unsuccessfully attempted repair at the time. 14 months later in 2017, the church had other contractors examine the roof and opine as to its faulty installation. Also in 2017, the church submitted roof samples to GAF, the roof membrane manufacturer and in February 2018 GAF responded stating that the leaks were not due to manufacturing defects. The church filed its complaint on October 1, 2018 breach of contract, breach of warranty of workmanship and fraud in violation of the VCPA. Defendant responded with a plea in bar, arguing that the statute of limitations barred the claim. 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

    Insurer Must Cover Portions of Arbitration Award

    October 14, 2019 —
    The court determined that there was coverage in a construction defect case for portions of an arbitration award. Liberty Surplus Ins. Corp. v. Century Sur. Co., 2019 U.S. DIst. LEXIS 116093 (S.D. Texas July 12, 2019). Descon Construction contracted with the City of Edinburg, Texas, to build a library. Descon subcontracted with McAllen Steel Erectors to install the library metal roof. The roof began to leak within two months of occupancy. The leaks continued for seven years. Edinburg sued Descon. The matter was arbitrated. The arbitration panel found that the library roof was defective, the exterior stucco system was defectively installed and certain work, including fire-caulking, had not been performed. The panel concluded that Descon was liable for breach of contract and breach of warranty. The panel determined that Edinburg was entitled to replacement of the existing roof. Further, McAllen was found to have breached its subcontract with Descon by defectively installing the roof, entitling Descon to recover $762,537 from McAllen. 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

    Best Lawyers® Recognizes 29 White and Williams Lawyers

    October 07, 2019 —
    Twenty-nine White and Williams lawyers were recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© 2020. Inclusion in Best Lawyers® is based entirely on peer-review. The methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area. Best Lawyers® employs a sophisticated, conscientious, rational, and transparent survey process designed to elicit meaningful and substantive evaluations of quality legal services. In addition, Randy Maniloff was named the Best Lawyers® 2020 Insurance Law "Lawyer of the Year" in Philadelphia. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of White and Williams LLP

    Customer’s Agreement to Self-Insure and Release for Water Damage Effectively Precludes Liability of Storage Container Company

    December 16, 2019 —
    In Kanovsky v. At Your Door Self Storage (No. B297338; filed 11/25/19), a California appeals court held that a waiver of liability and agreement to self-insure in a storage container contract barred coverage for water damage to goods stored in the container. In Kanovsky, plaintiffs contracted for portable storage containers when moving. They loaded their washing machine into one of the containers without checking whether it was fully drained. They locked the containers and reopened them four years later to discover water damage to the contents. They sued the storage company, alleging causes of action for breach of contract; tortious breach of covenant; negligence; and violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Civil Code section 1750. The storage company’s insurer intervened and moved for summary judgment, which was granted. The appeals court affirmed. The storage company’s contract contained a release of liability stating that personal property was stored “at the customer’s sole risk” and the owners “shall not be liable for any damage or loss,” including water damage. Further, the contract stated that the containers were not waterproof, and again that the storage company was not liable for water damage. The contract attached an addendum further stating that the owner was “a landlord renting space, is not a warehouseman, and does not take custody of my property.” The addendum went on with an acknowledgement that the owner: “2. Is not responsible for loss or damage to my property; 3. Does not provide insurance on my property for me; and 4. Requires that I provide my own insurance coverage or be ‘Self-Insured’ (personally assume risk of loss or damage).” Reprinted courtesy of Christopher Kendrick, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP and Valerie A. Moore, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP Mr. Kendrick may be contacted at ckendrick@hbblaw.com Ms. Moore may be contacted at vmoore@hbblaw.com Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of

    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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    Reprinted courtesy of

    DoD Will Require New Cybersecurity Standards in 2020: Could Other Agencies Be Next?

    September 09, 2019 —
    The Department of Defense (DoD) has announced a new five-tier standard for cybersecurity certification, which it calls the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, or “CMMC”. Taking an unusual approach to informing the industry, the DoD has provided only limited information about the new standard through its website and a “road tour” led by the newly-appointed head of the DoD’s Chief Information Security Office (CISO), Ms. Katie Arrington. During her recent presentation at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board (ISPAB) meeting, on August 8, 2019, Ms. Arrington revealed several new details about the requirements. Outlined below are the most significant facts from that presentation and the DoD’s website:
    All companies doing business with DoD (and all tiers of subcontractors) will need to obtain CMMC certifications.
    DoD will require the new certifications from all contractors (including suppliers and subcontractors) that are performing under a DoD contract. Even contractors that do not process or handle Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) must obtain CMMCs. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Alexander Gorelik, Smith Currie
    Mr. Gorelik may be contacted at agorelik@smithcurrie.com

    Insurer Granted Summary Judgment on Denial of Construction Defect Claim

    January 27, 2020 —
    The court granted the insurer's motion for summary judgment, confirming there was no duty to defend or indemnify a construction defect claim against the insured. Fontaine Bros. v. Acadia Ins. Co., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148056 (D. Mass. Aug. 29, 2019). The City of Worcester contracted with Fontaine Brothers, Inc. to install a new ice refrigeration system at the City's indoor ice rink. After construction, the condensers in two chiller units eroded and stopped operating. The City sued Fontaine for the costs of leasing temporary chillers and installing new ones. The City alleged that Fontaine installed condensers with carbon steel tubes instead of contractually required stainless stell tubes.Further, Fontaine and its subcontractors did not adequately maintain the condensers, in breach of the contract. Fontaine's insurer, Acadia Insurance Company, denied coverage. Fontaine sued Acadia. The court noted that the City's complaint plainly alleged faulty workmanship by Fontaine. However, the City's complaint did not allege that Fontaine intended the condensers to corrode and left open the possibility that Fontaine was unaware of any potential problem or did not foresee the corrosion likely to result from the use of carbon steel components or the maintenance work being done by its subcontractor. Therefore, the Cit's complaint did not foreclose the possibility that the corrosion resulting from Fontaine's alleged faulty workmanship and maintenance might be shown to be an unforeseen or unintended consequence of reckless or negligent conduct. Accordingly, it was possible that there was an occurrence under the policy language. 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

    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).
    Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of David Adelstein, Kirwin Norris, P.A.
    Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at dma@kirwinnorris.com