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    FAIRFIELD CONNECTICUT CONSTRUCTION EXPERT WITNESS
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    The Fairfield, Connecticut Construction Expert Witness Group at BHA, leverages from the experience gained through more than 7,000 construction related expert witness designations encompassing a wide spectrum of construction related disputes. Drawing from this considerable body of experience, BHA provides construction related trial support and expert services to Fairfield'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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    Saved By The Statute: The Economic Loss Doctrine Does Not Bar Claims Under Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law

    May 10, 2021 —
    In Earl v. NVR, Inc., No. 20-2109, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 6451, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Third Circuit) considered whether, under Pennsylvania law, the plaintiff’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) claims against the builder of her home were barred by the economic loss doctrine. The UTPCPL is a Pennsylvania statute that prohibits “unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.” 73 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 201-3. The Third Circuit previously addressed the impact of the economic loss doctrine on UTPCPL claims in Werwinski v. Ford Motor Co., 286 F.3d 661 (3d Cir. 2002). In Werwinski, the court held that the plaintiff’s UTPCPL claim was barred by the economic loss doctrine. The Court of Appeals overturned its decision in Werwinski and held that the economic loss doctrine does not bar UTPCPL claims since such claims are statutory, and not based in tort. In Earl, the plaintiff, Lisa Earl, entered into an agreement with defendant NVR, Inc. (NVR) for the construction and sale of a home in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Ms. Earl learned of the home through NVR’s marketing, which described the home as containing “quality architecture, timeless design, and beautiful finishes.” Ms. Earl alleged that during the construction of the home, she had further discussions with agents of NVR, who made representations that the home would be constructed in a good and workmanlike manner and that any deficiencies noted by Ms. Earl would be remedied. The defendant also assured Ms. Earl that the home would be constructed in accordance with relevant building codes and industry standards. After moving into the home, Ms. Earl discovered several material defects in the construction. She provided notice of these defects to NVR, but NVR’s attempts to repair some of the defects were inadequate. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Gus Sara, White and Williams
    Mr. Sara may be contacted at sarag@whiteandwilliams.com

    South Caroline Holds Actual Cash Value Can Include Depreciation of Labor Costs

    July 05, 2021 —
    Answering a certified question, the South Carolina Supreme Court held that the insurer could calculate actual cash value (ACV) by including an estimate of the depreciation of embedded labor costs. Butler v. Travelers Home & Marine Ins. Co., 2021 S. C. LEXIS 51 (S.C. May 12, 2021). Two insureds had their homes damaged in separate fires. Each held homeowners' policies with Travelers. The policies provided replacement cost value coverage to repair or replace damaged portions of homes. In the event that the insures chose not to immediately repair or replace the damaged home, the policies afforded payment to the insured for the actual cash value instead of replacement cost value. Both insured elected not to immediately repair or replace their homes, thereby deciding to accept a cash payment for the ACV of the damaged property. Neither was satisfied with the payment and both filed suit in federal district court. Travelers determined the ACV payment by estimating the replacement cost value (RCV) of the damage and then subtracting depreciation. The certified question presented by the federal district court was whether Travelers could depreciate the labor component of the costs of repair or replacement when determining the ACV. 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

    Allegations That COVID-19 Was Physically Present and Altered Property are Sufficient to Sustain COVID-19 Business Interruption Suit

    May 24, 2021 —
    On Wednesday, a federal judge in Texas denied Factory Mutual’s Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings, finding that the plaintiffs adequately alleged that the presence of COVID-19 on their property caused covered physical loss or damage in the case of Cinemark Holdings, Inc. v. Factory Mutual Insurance Co., No. 4:21-CV-00011 (E.D. Tex. May 5, 2021). This is the third COVID-19-related business interruption decision from Judge Amos Mazzant since March, but the first in favor of a policyholder. Taken together, the three decisions have two key takeaways and provide a roadmap for policyholders in all jurisdictions. First, the Cinemark decision recognizes that the alleged presence of COVID-19 viral particles that physically altered the policyholder’s property is sufficient under federal pleading standards and controlling state law. In its motion, FM relied on Judge Mazzant’s recent decision in Selery Fulfillment, Inc. v. Colony Insurance Co., No. 4:20-CV-853, 2021 WL 963742 (E.D. Tex. Mar. 15, 2021), which dismissed a lawsuit alleging that the policyholder’s losses were caused by government orders that closed its business, rather than from the actual presence of the virus on its property. The Court held that government orders alone do not constitute physical loss or damage, and declined to rule on whether the physical presence of the virus does. Judge Mazzant reached the same conclusion weeks later in Aggie Investments, L.L.C. v. Continental Casualty Co., No. 4:21-CV-0013, 2021 WL 1550479 (E.D. Tex. Apr. 20, 2021). Reprinted courtesy of Michael S. Levine, Hunton Andrews Kurth and Joseph T. Niczky, Hunton Andrews Kurth Mr. Levine may be contacted at mlevine@HuntonAK.com Mr. Niczky may be contacted at jniczky@HuntonAK.com Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of

    Residential Interior Decorator Was Entitled to Lien and Was Not Engaging in Unlicensed Contracting

    August 04, 2021 —
    Residential construction disputes can sometimes take nasty turns. This is not attributed to one specific reason, but a variety of factors. Sometimes, there are not sophisticated contracts (or contracts at all). Sometimes, relationships and roles get blurred. Sometimes, parties try to skirt licensure requirements. Sometimes, a party is just unreasonable as to their expectations. And, sometimes, a party tries to leverage a construction lien to get what they want. In all disputes, a party would certainly be best suited to work with construction counsel that has experience navigating construction disputes. An example of a construction dispute that took a nasty turn involving an interior decorator is SG 2901, LLC v. Complimenti, Inc., 2021 WL 2672295 (Fla. 3d DCA 2021). In this case, a condominium unit owner wanted to renovate his apartment. He hired an interior decorator to assist. As his renovation plans became more expansive, the interior decorator told him he would need to hire a licensed contractor and architect. The interior decorator arranged a meeting with those professionals and, at that meeting, they were hired by the owner and told to deal directly with the interior decorator, almost in an owner’s representative capacity since the owner traveled a lot. The interior decorator e-mailed the owner about status and requested certain authorizations, as one would expect an owner’s representative to do. At the completion of the renovation job, the owner did not pay the interior decorator because he was unhappy with certain renovations. The interior decorator recorded a construction lien and sued the owner which included a lien foreclosure claim. There was no discussion of the contracts in this case because, presumably, contracts were based on proposals, were bare-boned, or were oral. 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

    North Miami Beach Rejects as Incomplete 2nd Engineering Inspection Report From Evacuated Condo

    July 25, 2021 —
    North Miami Beach has rejected a new engineering inspection report provided by the Crestview Towers condominium association, keeping about 300 evacuated residents from returning to their apartments and raising new questions about engineering inspection reports in the aftermath of the Champlain Towers South collapse. Reprinted courtesy of Richard Korman, Engineering News-Record Mr. Korman may be contacted at kormanr@enr.com Read the full story... Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of

    As Fracture Questions Remain, Team Raced to Save Mississippi River Bridge

    September 06, 2021 —
    "How is this bridge still standing?” That was the initial reaction of Aaron Stover, Michael Baker International’s vice president and regional bridge practice lead, as he first studied images of a fractured tie beam that forced the May 11 emergency shutdown of the I-40/Hernando de Soto Bridge between Tennessee and Arkansas. Discovered by chance earlier in the day during MBI’s routine above-deck inspection, the fracture on the bridge’s eastbound span affected nearly half the cross-section of a 26-in. by 33-in. welded girder supporting one of the 50-year-old structure’s 900-ft-long, 100-ft-high arched navigation spans across the Mississippi River. Reprinted courtesy of Jim Parsons, Engineering News-Record ENR may be contacted at ENR.com@bnpmedia.com Read the full story... Read the court decision
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    A Classic Blunder: Practical Advice for Avoiding Two-Front Wars

    August 23, 2021 —
    “Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – the most famous of which is ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia’ – but only slightly less well-known is this: ‘Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.’”[1] Vizzini forgot to include “never fight a two-front war with your owner and a subcontractor” on his list of classic blunders, but it certainly belongs there. This article examines practical tips and tricks for general contractors to avoid the classic blunder of a two-front war, including recommended contract provisions and sound project documentation practices. Admittedly, general contractors face a wide array of obligations on a project. And perhaps one of the most delicate balancing acts is managing relationships with the owner and your subcontractors. But far too often general contractors find themselves in the difficult position of fighting a two-front war against one (or more) of their subcontractors and the project owner. But this does not always have to be the case—there are ways for general contractors to reduce the risk of finding themselves in a two-front war. And every project does not have to devolve in a circular firing squad with you in the middle. That said, this article comes with the caveat that a general contractor cannot avoid a two-front war in every instance, nor does this article examine every imaginable way to reduce the risk of a two-front war (see e.g. https://www.consensusdocs.org/pass-through-subcontractor-claims-liquidating-agreements-and-avoiding-a-two-front-war/). But this article will provide an overview of several key tools that can be used to minimize the risk of falling into a classic blunder. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of William Underwood, Jones Walker LLP
    Mr. Underwood may be contacted at wunderwood@joneswalker.com

    Difficult Task for Court to Analyze Delay and Disorder on Construction Project

    August 23, 2021 —
    One of my favorites quotes from a case, and I am sure others in the construction industry feel the same way or can relate, is from the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in Blake Construction Co., Inc. v. C.J. Coakley Co., Inc., 431 A.2d 569, 575 (D.C. 1981):
    We note parenthetically and at the outset that, except in the middle of a battlefield, nowhere must men coordinate the movement of other men and all materials in the midst of such chaos and with such limited certainty of present facts and future occurrences as in a huge construction project such as the building of this 100 million dollar hospital. Even the most painstaking planning frequently turns out to be mere conjecture and accommodation to changes must necessarily be of the rough, quick and ad hoc sort, analogous to ever-changing commands on the battlefield. Further, it is a difficult task for a court to be able to examine testimony and evidence in the quiet of a courtroom several years later concerning such confusion and then extract from them a determination of precisely when the disorder and constant readjustment, which is to be expected by any subcontractor on a job site, become so extreme, so debilitating and so unreasonable as to constitute a breach of contract between a contractor and a subcontractor.
    Do you agree with this sentiment? The reality is that retrospectively analyzing delay on a complicated construction project with numerous moving parts on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour, basis is no easy feat. It is not easy for the parties and certainly not easy for courts to unravel. With every party claiming delay based on a retrospective analysis there will be another party with either a different delay analysis or providing credible cross examination as to flaws with the delay analysis. The same bodes true with loss of productivity / inefficiency claims and the particular case-specific facts are important, preferably with evidence such as photos, videos, notifications, daily reports, manpower reports, etc., supporting the facts. But the facts are complicated, and the delay analysis is complicated, and it is a difficult task for a trier of fact to unravel these facts. 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