Florida Construction Legal Updates

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CGL policies contain a “Separation of Insureds” provision.  This provision oftentimes states: Except with respect to the Limits of Insurance, and any rights or duties specifically assigned this Coverage Part to the first Named Insured, this insurance applies: 1. As if each named insured were the only Named Insured; and 2. Separately to each insured against whom claim is made or “suit” is brought. This provision is designed to “create separate insurable interests in each…
In the preceding article, I discussed a case where an owner sued its contractor and design professional for construction defects and design defects that contributed to the same damage.   There was a valuable discussion in this case as to the measure of damages in a construction defect dispute.  It is a discussion that construction defect parties and practitioners need to know.  A plaintiff needs to know for purposes of proving damages at trial and…
There is nothing like a good old-fashioned dispute between an owner and its general contractor and design professional relating to construction and design defects where both parties have a role in the owner’s damages.  There are arguments that both the general contractor and design professional substantially contributed to the defects and damages.  Are the contractor and design professional jointly and severally liable for the owner’s damages?  Or, does comparative fault apply where the trial of…
When a seller of residential real property fails to knowingly disclose defects that are not readily observable and materially affects the value of the real property, this gives rise to a fraudulent nondisclosure or concealment claim, otherwise known as a Johnson v. Davis claim.  (See this article that discusses this claim.).   This is not the easiest claim to prove because a seller rarely will concede they knew of a hidden defect that they failed to…
If you are a subcontractor or supplier working on a private construction project, you always want to pull up the Notice of Commencement from the public records to see if there is a payment bond in place.  If there is not, you know you have to preserve your construction lien rights as to the real property (the project).  If there is, you know you will have to preserve your rights against the payment bond. In…
Can an uncommon design or mode of construction that creates an “optical illusion” on property create an issue of fact for a premise liability claim?  According to the Third District Court of Appeal in Echevarria v. Lennar Homes, LLC, 45 Fla. L. Weekly D1567a (Fla. 3d DCA 2020), the answer is yes. When it comes to a premise liability claim: “‘A property owner owes two duties to its business invitees: 1) to warn of concealed…
Associations have authority to pursue as a class, on behalf of all of their respective members, lawsuits “concerning members of common interest to the members.”  Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.221.   This includes, but is not limited to, the common property or the areas in which the association is responsible.   But, what about matters or elements for which the association is not responsible or does not own?  For example, issues or damages relative to a specific…
Unlike a deductible, a self-insured retention (referred to an “SIR”) is, as the name suggests, a self-insured obligation of the insured before its insurer picks up coverage.  The SIR needs to be exhausted by the insured (as the primary self-insurance component) before the carrier’s excess defense and indemnification obligations kick-in under the terms of the policy.  However, an insured can generally exhaust an SIR by paying legal fees and costs associated with a claim. Oftentimes,…
In an insurance coverage dispute, it is common for the insured or the insurer to file a lawsuit that includes a claim for declaratory relief — asking the court to render a ruling as to the coverage issue.  This claim is proper if an insurer denied coverage or a part of coverage relating to an exclusion or endorsement in the policy, or even if there is the argument that the loss or occurrence did not…
In certain jurisdictions, the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 is on the rise.  As this occurs, there is the possibility that a construction project will have to deal with one or more workers testing positive.  That is the current reality.   If the dialogue has not occurred before, now is the time to discuss any enhanced measures—above OSHA guidelines—that could be implemented to address this reality and mitigate the risk.  Part of the reality,…