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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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    Leveraging from more than 7,000 construction defect and claims related expert witness designations, the Greensboro, Florida Construction Expert Witness Group provides a wide range of trial support and consulting services to Greensboro's most acknowledged construction practice groups, CGL carriers, builders, owners, and public agencies. Drawing from a diverse pool of construction and design professionals, BHA is able to simultaneously analyze complex claims from the perspective of design, engineering, cost, or standard of care.

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    Court Holds That Insurance Producer Cannot Be Liable for Denial of COVID-19 Business Interruption Claim

    November 23, 2020 —
    After an insurance carrier denied a lawyer and her law firm’s claim for lost business income due to the COVID-19-related shutdown, she sued both her carrier and the insurance producer that procured the policy. See Wilson v. Hartford Casualty Company, No. 20-3384 (E.D.Pa. Sep. 30, 2020). In one of the first cases to consider producer liability in COVID-19 cases, Judge Eduardo Robreno dismissed the lawsuit against the producer and the carrier. USI procured the Policy from Hartford for Rhonda Hill Wilson and her law firm. The Policy included coverage for lost business income and extra expense caused by direct physical loss of, or damage to property. Similarly, the Policy covered lost business income if a nearby property experienced a direct physical loss that caused a civil authority to issue an order that prohibited access to the law firm’s property. The Policy also included a virus exclusion “for loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by . . . [p]resence, growth, proliferation, spread or any activity of . . . virus.” Judge Robreno did not decide whether the Policy afforded any coverage to Wilson and her law firm for their COVID-19 losses. Rather, he found that even if they could, the virus exclusion unambiguously barred any coverage they could possibly claim. For that reason, Judge Robreno dismissed the claims against Hartford. Reprinted courtesy of Christopher P. Leise, White and Williams LLP and Marc L. Penchansky, White and Williams LLP Mr. Leise may be contacted at Mr. Penchansky may be contacted at Read the court decision
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    Time is of the Essence, Even When the Contract Doesn’t Say So

    January 11, 2021 —
    Welcome to 2021! As often happens here at Construction Law Musings, the year starts with a few posts on notable construction law cases that dropped in the past year or so. Not only does this review hopefully help you keep up, but helps me keep up with the latest developments (one of the reasons why I keep blogging). The first of these cases is Appalachian Power Co. v. Wagman Heavy Civil, Inc. out of the Western District of Virginia federal court. In this case, Wagman Heavy Civil, Inc. (“Wagman”) and the Virginia Department of Transportation (“VDOT”) contracted for the design and construction of a highway interchange project (the “Project”). Wagman and the Appalachian Power Company (“APCO”) entered into a written contract (the “Written Contract”) for APCO to remove and relocate its utility structures (the “Work”) in order to facilitate construction for the Project. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill
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    One Shot to Get It Right: Navigating the COVID-19 Vaccine in the Workplace

    January 18, 2021 —
    The Food and Drug Administration has granted Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, employers across all industries may be considering whether to adopt a vaccination policy requiring vaccination as a condition of working and/or accessing the workplace or jobsite. The FDA’s recent authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine raises several legal and practical issues that employers may wish to consider as they prepare for widespread distribution and availability of the vaccine in 2021. Mandating the COVID-19 Vaccine in the Workplace The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued guidance suggesting that employers may mandate that employees receive the COVID-19 vaccination, subject to certain limitations. The EEOC has taken the position that administration of the COVID-19 vaccine does not implicate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because administration of the vaccine is not a medical examination. Under the EEOC’s guidance, employers, regardless of the industry, may require that employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine without having to justify that the mandate is job related and consistent with business necessity. Beyond that, construction employers should be aware of numerous issues and risks associated with mandatory vaccine policies. Reprinted courtesy of Natale DiNatale, Stephen W. Aronson, Britt-Marie K. Cole-Johnson, Emily A. Zaklukiewicz, Kayla N. West & Abby M. Warren of Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved. Read the court decision
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    Does a Landlord’s Violation of the Arizona Residential Landlord-Tenant Act Constitute Negligence Per Se?

    September 21, 2020 —
    In a recent Arizona Court of Appeals case, Ibarra v. Gastelum, 2020 WL 4218020 (7/23/20), the Court of Appeals addressed the question whether – in a tenant’s personal injury claim against the landlord – a landlord’s violation of the Arizona Landlord-Tenant Act constituted negligence per se. The tenant alleged he was injured by stubbing his toe on a crack in the floor. The tenant alleged that he had made repeated demands that the landlord repair the crack. The statute required the landlord to make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition. The tenant argued that a violation of the statute constituted negligence per se, meaning that the violation of the statute satisfied (as a matter of law) the first two elements of a negligence claim – duty and breach of duty. The tenant requested a negligence per se jury instruction. The trial court declined that request and refused to give the requested instruction. The tenant lost the jury trial and appealed. Reprinted courtesy of Kevin J. Parker, Snell & Wilmer Mr. Parker may be contacted at Read the full story... Read the court decision
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    Alleging Property Damage in Construction Defect Lawsuit

    September 14, 2020 —
    When there is a construction defect lawsuit, there is an insurance coverage issue or consideration. As I have said repeatedly in other articles, it is all about maximizing insurance coverage regardless of whether you are the plaintiff prosecuting the construction defect claim or the contractor(s) alleged to have committed the construction defect and property damage. It is about triggering first, the insurer’s duty to defend, and second, the insurer’s duty to indemnify its insured for the property damage. The construction defect claim and lawsuit begins with how the claim and, then, lawsuit is couched knowing that the duty to defend is triggered by allegations in the lawsuit (complaint). Thus, preparing the lawsuit (complaint) is vital to maximize the insurer’s duty to defend its insured. In a recent opinion out of the Eleventh Circuit, Southern-Owners Ins. Co. v. MAC Contractors of Florida, LLC, 2020 WL 4345199 (11th Cir. 2020), a general contractor was sued for construction defects in the construction of a custom home. A dispute arose pre-completion and the owner hired another contractor to complete the house and remediate construction defects. The contractor’s CGL insurer originally provided a defense to the general contractor but then withdrew the defense and filed an action for declaratory relief asking for the declaration that it had no duty to defend the contractor because the underlying lawsuit did NOT allege property damage. The trial court agreed with the contractor and granted summary judgment in its favor finding that the underlying complaint did not allege property damage beyond defective work. But, on appeal, the Eleventh Circuit reversed. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of David Adelstein, Kirwin Norris, P.A.
    Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at

    Commentary: How to Limit COVID-19 Related Legal Claims

    January 11, 2021 —
    We are 10 months into the global pandemic. Given the magnitude of additional costs and upended expectations and risk-allocation, we foresee a wave of disputes coming soon. Whether it is large or small depends heavily on how well project team members handle the COVID-19 project impacts now. Reprinted courtesy of Joshua Lindsay, Crowell & Moring (ENR) and Meagan Bachman, Crowell & Moring (ENR) Ms. Bachman may be contacted at Mr. Lindsay may be contacted at Read the full story... Read the court decision
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    New York Appellate Court Addresses “Trigger of Coverage” for Asbestos Claims and Other Coverage Issues

    November 30, 2020 —
    On October 9, 2020, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, decided an appeal from a trial court’s 2018 summary judgment ruling on a number of coverage issues arising out of asbestos-related bodily injury claims against plaintiffs Carrier Corporation (Carrier) and Elliott Company (Elliott). See Carrier Corp. v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 396 CA 18-02292, Mem. & Order (N.Y. Sup. Ct. App. Div. 4th Dep’t Oct. 9, 2020). The Fourth Department reversed the trial court’s ruling that, under New York’s “injury in fact trigger of coverage,” injury occurs from the first date of exposure to asbestos through death or the filing of suit as a matter of law. The parties agreed that, because the policy language at issue required personal injury to take place “during the policy period,” “the applicable test in determining what event constitutes personal injury sufficient to trigger coverage is injury-in-fact, ‘which rests on when the injury, sickness, disease or disability actually began.’” Id. at 3 (quoting Cont’l Cas. Co. v. Rapid-American Corp., 609 N.E.2d 506, 511 (N.Y. 1993)). The Fourth Department concluded that, in resolving the issue, the trial court erred by relying on inapposite decisions in other cases where: (1) the parties had stipulated or otherwise not disputed that first exposure triggered coverage[1]; or (2) the issue had not been resolved on summary judgment, but rather at trial based on expert medical evidence[2]. The Fourth Department further explained that, even if plaintiffs here had met their initial burden on summary judgment by submitting admissible evidence that asbestos-related injury actually begins upon first exposure, the defendant-insurer’s opposition – which included affidavits of medical experts contradicting that evidence and averring instead that “harm occurs only when a threshold level of asbestos fiber or particle burden is reached that overtakes the body’s defense mechanisms” – raised a triable issue of fact. Id. at 4. The Fourth Department also rejected plaintiffs’ argument that the defendant-insurer was collaterally estopped on the “trigger” issue by a California appellate court’s decision in Armstrong World Industries, Inc. v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 52 Cal. Rptr. 2d 690 (Cal. Ct. App. 1996). The Fourth Department reasoned that the issues litigated in the two cases were not identical because, among other things, California and New York “apply different substantive law in determining when asbestos-related injury occurs.” Carrier, Mem. & Order at 4. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Paul A. Briganti, White and Williams LLP
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    A Landlord’s Guide to the Center for Disease Control’s Eviction Moratorium

    October 05, 2020 —
    The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the “CDC”) and the Department of Health and Human Services (the “HHS”) has issued an order to temporarily halt a landlord’s right to evict certain residential tenants to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 (the “CDC Order”). The CDC Order is effective through December 31, 2020. Applicability of the CDC Order. The CDC Order does not apply in jurisdictions that have a moratorium on residential evictions in effect that provides the same or greater level of protection than the CDC Order, and the CDC Order permits local jurisdictions to continue to pass more restrictive eviction moratoriums. To invoke the protection provided by the CDC Order, a landlord’s tenants must deliver an executed declaration (a “CDC Declaration”) form to the landlord that includes the following statements: (i) the tenant has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing; (ii) expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income in 2020 (or $198,000 if filing joint tax returns), was not required to report income in 2019, or received an Economic Impact Payment under the CARES Act; (iii) the tenant is unable to pay the full rent due to substantial loss of household income, loss of work or wages, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses; (iv) the tenant is using best efforts to make partial payments that are as close to the full rental payments as the tenant’s circumstances permit; and (v) the eviction would likely render the individual homeless or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters or shared living space. Effect of the CDC Order The CDC Order prevents landlords from evicting tenants for the non-payment of rent or similar housing-related payments that have sent their landlord a CDC Declaration. The CDC Order does not relieve tenants of the obligation to pay rent or other charges owed under their leases and does not preclude a landlord from charging late fees, penalties, or interest for missed payments. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Colton Addy, Snell & Wilmer
    Mr. Addy may be contacted at