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Showing posts from August, 2011

Differing Site Conditions Clauses Part I

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Most, but not all, construction contracts contain clauses commonly refereed to as a “Differing Site Conditions Clause” and/or a “Changed Conditions Clause” that will allow the contractor to obtain additional compensation and time if a differing site condition is encountered.  Be aware, however, that there are public contracts in use in Florida that on their face do not allow for an equitable adjustment when a differing site condition is encountered.  If the contract documents do not contain the typical clauses mentioned above, then the contractor’s ability to recover additional time and money may be in jeopardy (and ultimately determined by the creativity of the contractor and its lawyer).


Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Implied Warranty of Constructability

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The implied warranty of constructability provides that if the contractor complies with the plans and specifications furnished to it by the owner, the contractor will not be responsible to the owner for loss or damage that result solely from defective or insufficient plans.U.S. v. Spearin, 248 U.S. 132 (1918); Phillips v. Jordan, 602 So.2d 1310 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992).


Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Bid Protest and Late Submission

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In E.M. Watkins & Co. v. Board of Regents, 414 So.2d 583 (Fla. 1st DCA 1982), the apparent low bidder on a project submitted a required list of subcontractors a few hours after the deadline for bid submittals.  The court deemed the bidder’s failure to timely submit the list to be material and non-waiveable because the late submission facilitated undesirable subcontractor bid shopping.  The court came to this conclusion even though there was no evidence that the bidder actually had received an unfair advantage or benefit by submitting the subcontractor list after the bid submittal deadline.

Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Liquidated Damages Provision and Unconscionability

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An argument that has succeeded in avoiding an otherwise valid liquidated damages clause is where the liquidated damages amount “shocks the conscience” of the court.  In other words, if the stipulated sum is simply too great in comparison to the contract value itself, then the liquidated damages will not be enforced.  This analysis compares the stipulated sum with the contract value.  For example, in Hook v. Bomar, 320 F.2d 536 (5th Cir. 1968), the loss of a $30,000 deposit on a $95,000 contract was found unconscionable, and the liquidated damages provision was not enforced.


Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Bid Protests and Minor Deviation

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Case law holds that a minor deviation from the instructions to bidders can be ignored, but only if the deviation is not material, i.e., the deviation did not result in an unfair economic advantage.  See C.H. Barco Contracting Co. v. State of Florida, Department of Transportation, 483 So2.d 796 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986).


Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Attorney's Fees against Plumber on Lien Claim

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An owner was entitled to attorney's fees against a plumbing contractor on the plumbing contractor's lien claim, because a 713.23 private payment and performance bond had been posted for the project.  United Plumbing and Heating Inc. v. Goldberger, 452 So.2d 591 (Fla. 4th DCA 1984).

Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Roofing Suppliers and OSHA Fall Protection

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"Question: I am a supplier of roofing materials. I deliver roofing materials to the job and place the material on the roof. What are my obligations?

Answer: Because your product will be used during construction activity, you are required under Subpart M to protect your employees from falls of 6 feet or more to lower levels when possible. Therefore, employees must be provided with personal fall arrest equipment to attach to an anchor point if available. In the case of vendors delivering roofing materials, OSHA will require the following: Gaining Access to the Roof: A handhold (rope, chain, or other railing) must be attached to the conveyor belt so that the employee has something to steady himself with as he gains access to the roof or a ladder must be used to gain access to the roof.

Distributing the Roofing Materials: Once on the roof the vendor's employee will receive the roofing products from a conveyor belt (lift truck or similar equipment) and then distribut…

Cardinal Change in Construction Contracts

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Case law defines a cardinal change as a change sought by the owner which is so excessive that it exceeds the original scope of the contract.  The seminal case on cardinal change is Saddler v. U.S., 287 F.2d 411 (Ct. Cl. 1961).  In Saddler, a construction contract between the contractor and the federal government required the contractor to build a levee embankment.  A change in the design by the owner required the contractor to double the embankment’s length and more than double the volume of fill required to complete the project.  The contractor filed suit against the owner claiming that the excessive changes demanded by the owner constituted a breach of the contract.  The court held in favor of the contractor and stated “that the nature of this particular contract was so changed by the added work… as to amount to a cardinal alteration falling outside the scope of the contract.”  Id. at 414-15.


Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, St…

No Equitable Lien against County

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An equitable lien claim cannot be sought against a county or government entity.  Pavex  Corp. v. Broward County, 498 So.2d 1317 (Fla. 1986).
Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Board Certified Construction Lawyer

Glenn Rasmussen Fogarty & Hooker, P.A.
100 S Ashley Dr., Suite 1300
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 229-3333
http://www.glennrasmussen.com

Claim of Lien Form

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Section 713.08, Florida Statutes contains the current claim of lien form that should be used by lienors in Florida. 


Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com








Davis-Bacon Act and Fringe Benefits

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Gift certificates are not considered fringe benefits under the Davis-Bacon Act.


Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com



No Damages for Delay Clause Ineffective

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A contractor was entitled to delay damages despite a "no damages for delay" provision in the prime contract when the owner requested excessive design changes.  Kalisch-Jarcho, Inc. v. City of New York, 448 N.E.d2d 413 (NY 1983).
Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Sovereign Immunity and Certificate of Occupancy

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A municipality could not be sued for the negligent issuance of a certificate of occupancy on the basis of soverign immunity.  Victoria Village Condominium Ass'n v. City of Coconut Creek, 488 So.2d 900 (Fla. 4th DCA 1986).


Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Seminar for TCRCA on OSHA August 23, 2011

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I will be presenting a seminar on the OSHA Inspection and Citation Process for the Tri-County Roofing Contractors Association (TCRCA) in Lakeland, Florida on August 23, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.  Attendees will receive one hour of CILB continuing education credit.  For more information, visit www.tcrca.org.
Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

AIA Handbook Violation and Negligence

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An architect that violates the AIA (American Institue of Architects) Handbook may be evidence of negligence but is not negligence per se.  Peterson v. Cannaday, 749 P.2d 63 (Mont. 1988).

Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Substantial Performance and Material Breach

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"The doctrine of substantial performance is generally unavailable where a party has materially breached the terms of the agreement."  Nat'l Contractors, Inc. v. Ellenberg, 681 So.2d 791, 793 (Fla. 3d DCA 1996).
Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Property Owner Liability for Injuries to Contractor Employees

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"Generally, a property owner who employs an independent contractor to perform work on his property will not be held liable for injuries sustained by the employee of an independent contractor duing the performance of that work."  Strickland v. TIMCO Aviation Services, Inc., 2011 WL 2570775 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011).
Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Time is of the Essence and Substantial Performance

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A "time is of the essence" provision in a construction contract may affect the determination of whether or not the contractor substantially performed.  Legacy Place Apartment Homes, LLC v. PGA Gateway, LTD., 2011 WL 3111641 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011).
Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Liability of Owner for Subtier Debt

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Subtiers may use liens to attach to the owner's real property interest.  However, there is some support that a subtier contractor or supplier can sue the owner under equitable theories despite not having a contract and obtain a money judgment against the owners as well as pursue lien rights.  See 85.021, Florida Statutes. Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Delay Damages

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A contractor can obtain delay damages against an owner for owner-caused delays on a project provided that there is not a contractual provision that prevents the contractor from obtaining delay damages such as a "no damages for delay" clause.

Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Surety and Arbitration Provision in Subcontract

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A surety is not bound by an arbitration provision contained in a subcontract agreement between the prime contractor and subcontractor.  Because the surety did not sign the agreement, the surety is not bound by the arbitration provision.  Graham Contracting, Inc. v. Flagler County, 458 So.2d 418 (Fla. 5th DCA 1984).


Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Amending Claim of Lien

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A claim of lien can be amended anytime during the 90 days after final furnishing of labor, services or materials.  However, after the 90 days, the lienor can no longer amend the claim of lien.  See Section 713.08, Florida Statutes.
Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Florida Construction Lien Law Video Part III

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Here is part III of the video on Florida Construction Lien Law.  The direct link to the video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bblgaoBkVYI



Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Pleading Fraud in the Inducement

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A fraud in the inducement count must be pled with specificity.  In other words, the person asserting the claim must provide specific facts that support each pleading element of the claim.  FDIC v. Fireman's Fund, 271 F.Supp. 689 (S.D. Fla. 1967).
Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Federal Torts Claims Act

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Any tort claim (negligence) on Federal construction projects would normally fall under the guidelines of the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).  28 USC 2671 et. seq.  Stay tuned for more info about the FTCA.


Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Damages for Improper Termination of Contract

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In the event of improper termination from the owner, the contractor is entitled to lost profit on the work unperformed and for the cost of the labor, materials and services provided for the project prior to termination.
Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Contractor's Responsibility for Subcontractor OSHA Violations

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A prime contractor is responsible for all violations it could reasonably be expected to prevent or detect because of its supervisory capacity over the site regardless of whether it or a subcontractor created the hazard.  Future blog posts will discuss the exceptions to this general rule.

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Board Certified Construction Lawyer
Glenn Rasmussen Fogarty & Hooker, P.A.
100 S Ashley Dr., Suite 1300
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 229-3333
http://www.glennrasmussen.com

Is a Faxed Lien Release Valid?

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To determine if a faxed lien release is valid, one Court examined the parties' intent to determine if the subcontractor's normal business practice was to withhold the original lien release until payment was received.  Klein Development v. Ellis K. Phelps & Co., 761 So.2d 441 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000).

Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com

Owner Delays against Contractor

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If the owner furnished the plans to the contractor, the owner cannot claim delay damages against the contractor on the basis of a design defect.  Chaney Bldg. Co. v. City of Tucson, 716 P.2d 28 (Ariz. 1986).


Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com



Amending Pleadings in Construction Context

Homeowner could amend answer and affirmative defenses asserted against contractor two months before trial because "all doubts should be resolved in favor of allowing amendment."  Thompson v. Jared Kane Company, Inc., 872 So.2d 356 (Fla. 2d DCA 2004).

Trenton H. Cotney
Board Certified in Construction Law Trent Cotney, P.A. 1207 N Franklin St, Ste 222 Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 579-3278 www.trentcotney.com