In Ohio N. Univ. v. Charles Constr. Servs., 2018 Ohio LEXIS 2375 (No. 2017-0514, October 9, 2018), the Supreme Court of Ohio was recently called upon to determine if a general contractor’s Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance policy provided coverage for defective work completed by its subcontractor. Rejecting the majority trend, the court held that, because the subcontractor’s faulty work was not an “occurrence” caused by an accident – i.e. a fortuitous event – within the meaning of the contractor’s CGL policy, the insurer did not have to defend or indemnify the contractor with respect to the plaintiff’s claims. Continue reading
In Gindel v. Centex Homes, 2018 Fla.App. LEXIS 13019, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal recently concluded that the date on which the plaintiffs provided a pre-suit notice in compliance with §558.004 of Florida’s construction defect Right-to-Cure statute, Fla. Stat. §§ 558.001 to 558.005, et. seq., is the date on which the plaintiff commenced a “civil action or proceeding,” i.e. an “action,” within the meaning of Florida’s construction defect statute of repose, Florida Statue § 95.11(3)(c). Thus, reversing the decision of the trial court, the Fourth District held that the plaintiffs timely-filed their construction defect action against the defendants. Continue reading
Recent court decisions have signaled the courts’ proclivity to prefer arbitration over full-fledged litigation when provisions in construction contracts are called into question. While the courts recognize a party’s constitutional right to a jury trial, the courts also lean strongly towards resolving disputes via arbitration as a matter of public policy, especially if a construction contract carves out arbitration as an alternative to litigation. Continue reading
In Davison v. Debest Plumbing, Inc., 416 P.3d 943 (Ida. 2018), the Supreme Court of Idaho addressed the issue of whether plaintiffs who provided actual notice of a defective condition, but not written notice as stated in the Notice and Opportunity to Repair Act (NORA), Idaho Code §§ 6-2501 to 6-2504, et. seq., substantially complied with the act and if the plaintiffs’ notice was sufficient to bring suit. Section 6-2503 of the NORA states that, “[p]rior to commencing an action against a construction professional for a construction defect, the claimant shall serve written notice of claim on the construction professional. The notice of claim shall state that the claimant asserts a construction defect claim against the construction professional and shall describe the claim in reasonable detail sufficient to determine the general nature of the defect.” Any action not complying with this requirement should be dismissed without prejudice. The court held that the defendant’s actual notice of the defect was sufficient to satisfy the objectives of the NORA and, thus, the plaintiffs’ action complied with the NORA. Continue reading
In recent months, the Northern District of Mississippi has grappled with how to interpret waivers of subrogation in American Institute of Architects (AIA) construction industry contracts and, specifically, how they apply to work versus non-work property. The distinction between work and non-work property has been commonly litigated and remains a hotly debated topic when handling subrogation claims involving construction defects. Continue reading
Under Florida’s construction-related statute of repose, Fla. Stat. § 95.11, actions based on the design, planning or construction of an improvement to real property are barred if not commenced within 10 years after the later of several possible dates, including the date of actual possession by the owner and the date of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy. The Florida Legislature recently amended the statute to extend the time within which defendants subject to a suit filed close to the end of the 10-year period can file claims. Under the revised law, a defendant can file “counterclaims, cross-claims and third-party claims up to 1 year after the pleading to which such claims relate is served.” Regardless of when the cause of action at issue accrued, the law applies to actions commenced on or after July 1, 2018, except that any action that would not have been barred under Fla. Stat. § 95.11(3)(c) prior to the amendment may be commenced before July 1, 2019. Continue reading
In Blok Builders, LLC v. Katryniok, 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 1312, the Court of Appeals of Florida for the Fourth District considered whether Florida Statute § 725.06 applied to a contract for the excavation of various neighborhood easements containing telecommunication lines. The court held that the statute did not apply because the contract for the excavation work was unrelated to a “building, structure, appurtenance, or appliance,” as explicitly required by the statute. The court’s analysis highlights the importance of thoroughly analyzing statutes and considering (and anticipating) their most narrow interpretations. Continue reading
In Brooks v. CalAtlantic Homes of Texas, Inc., 2017 Tex. App. Lexis 9466, the Court of Appeals of Texas considered whether a defendant moving for summary judgment on the grounds that the statute of repose expired also bears the burden of establishing the absence of applicable exceptions to the statute of repose. In Texas, a plaintiff alleging a construction defect in an improvement to real property must file a lawsuit within ten years of the date of substantial completion of the improvement. Continue reading
In Forest City Stapleton, Inc. v. Rodgers, 393 P.3d 487 (Colo. 2017), the Supreme Court of Colorado considered whether a home buyer needed privity of contract to pursue an implied warranty of suitability claim against a developer who sold a vacant lot to a professional builder. Finding that that warranty of suitability claims are contractual claims, the court held that the home buyer needed to be in privity of contract with the developer.
There has been a growing trend among states to enact statutes that impose specific notice requirements when bringing claims against construction professionals. These notice requirements may apply to the subrogated carrier bringing a claim against a construction professional for certain types of damages. Failure to comply with the notice requirements can result in a dismissal of the subrogation action. Accordingly, caution must be exercised when notifying construction professionals of certain claims, and not just claims for construction defects.