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    Florida Supreme Court Adopts Federal Summary Judgment Standard, Substantially Conforming Florida’s Rule 1.510 to Federal Rule 56

    June 07, 2021 —
    Effective May 1, 2021, the Florida courts will transition to a new summary judgment standard meant to “align Florida’s summary judgment standard with that of the federal courts and of the supermajority of states that have already adopted the federal summary judgment standard.” In re Amends. to Fla. Rule of Civ. Pro. 1.510, 309 So. 3d 192, 192 (Fla. 2020). Consistent with this amendment, Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.510 has been amended to adopt the federal summary judgment rule, with exceptions for timing-related issues. The Florida Supreme Court’s most recent opinion on rule 1.510 and the text of new rule 1.510 can be found here. As background, on December 31, 2020, the Florida Supreme Court adopted the federal summary judgment standard by amending Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.510(c) to include the following sentence: “The summary judgment standard provided for in this rule shall be construed and applied in accordance with the federal summary judgment standard articulated in Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1976); and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574 (1986) [(the ‘Celotex trilogy’)].” In re Amends. to Fla. Rule of Civ. Pro. 1.510, 309 So. 3d at 196. The court’s amendment was slated to take effect on May 1, 2021, subject to a public comment period. The court also sought guidance from the Florida Bar’s Civil Procedure Rules Committee. After careful consideration of numerous responses, the court ultimately chose to adopt the substance of the text from federal rule 56. Along with its amendments, the court provides substantial guidance as to how the Florida courts and practitioners should interpret the new rule. A summary of the court’s thorough discussion follows. Read the court decision
    Read the full story...
    Reprinted courtesy of Lewis Brisbois

    Powering Goal Congruence in Construction Through Smart Contracts

    February 22, 2021 —
    The $814 billion U.S. commercial construction market requires a unique assembly of designers, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers to work together in a highly orchestrated manner to make sure that the right labor, material, equipment, tools and information all comes together at the right place and time. Alignment and coordination between companies is critical for a project to be successful; completed safely, on time, on budget and resulting in an asset that performs as designed. Yet the industry is slowed by an operating model bogged down by transactional and informational barriers that destroys value across the construction supply chain. Companies are connected through contracts and purchase orders that are undercut by mistrust that yields adversarial relationships and conflicting priorities that result in restricted transparency, elongated payment cycles and an abundance of resource-sucking reconciliations, audits and disputes. With margins already razor thin, company protectionism cascades down from owners, developers and operators to contractors, subcontractors and suppliers with each player focused on optimizing their piece at the expense of the whole. Perhaps this is part of the reason 98% of megaprojects experience cost overruns or delays, 95% of projects are unable to meet even one business objective; and 70% of all construction projects are not completed within 10% of the proposed budget. Reprinted courtesy of Michael Matthews, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of

    Alert: AAA Construction Industry Rules Update

    June 07, 2021 —
    The American Arbitration Association has made some needed updates to their Construction Industry Arbitration and Mediation Rules, effective July 1, 2015. Among the changes listed at their website are:
    • A mediation step for all cases with claims of $100,000 or more (subject to the ability of any party to opt out).
    • Consolidation and joinder time frames and filing requirements to streamline these increasingly involved issues in construction arbitrations.
    • New preliminary hearing rules to provide more structure and organization to get the arbitration process on the right track from the beginning.
    • Information exchange measures to give arbitrators a greater degree of control to limit the exchange of information, including electronic documents.
    • Availability of emergency measures of protection in contracts that have been entered into on or after July 1, 2015.
    • Enforcement power of the arbitrator to issue orders to parties that refuse to comply with the Rules or the arbitrator’s orders.
    • Permissibility of dispositive motions to dispose of all or part of a claim or to narrow the issue in a claim.
    Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill
    Mr. Hill may be contacted at chrisghill@constructionlawva.com

    Responding to Ransomware Learning from Colonial Pipeline

    June 07, 2021 —
    Recently, ransomware has taken to the forefront in national news. The most prevalent ransomware attack, the one perpetrated against Colonial Pipeline by the now-defunct "Dark Side" hackers, has served to remind businesses about the risks of ransomware. What happened to Colonial Pipeline? What should businesses do to learn from Colonial Pipeline's response? What should a business avoid? What happened to Colonial Pipeline? Colonial Pipeline, a Georgia based operator of fuel pipelines, had its billing software compromised by Dark Side's ransomware attack.1 Following this, Colonial Pipeline took proactive measures to (1) shut down their systems; (2) evaluate the issue; and (3) safely brought systems back on line after ensuring that they were not compromised. Following this, Colonial Pipeline did eventually pay the 4.4 million dollar ransom demand from Dark Side. What it got in return was a decryption key, as promised, which ended up being slower than Colonial Pipeline's own backups.2 The ultimate result of this event being an initial cost of $4.4 million, in addition to lost profits, additional security costs, reputational costs, and litigation costs as consumers had filed a class-action lawsuit to hold Colonial Pipeline accountable for their perceived lapse in security.3 Further, the fall-out from Colonial Pipeline had prompted additional cybersecurity efforts and changes by the Biden administration, including proposed regulations requiring pipeline companies to inform the Department of Homeland Security of cybersecurity incidents within 12 hours, in addition to keeping a cybersecurity coordinator on staff at all times, and reviews of current security measures. Read the court decision
    Read the full story...
    Reprinted courtesy of J. Kyle Janecek, Newmeyer Dillion
    Mr. Janecek may be contacted at kyle.janecek@ndlf.com

    A Court-Side Seat: Coal-Fired Limitations, the Search for a Venue Climate Change and New Agency Rules that May or May Not Stick Around

    February 15, 2021 —
    This is a brief review of recent significant environmental and administrative law rulings and developments. With the change in presidential administrations, the fate of at least some of the newly promulgated rules is uncertain. THE U.S. SUPREME COURT BP PLC v. City and County of Baltimore On January 19, 2021, the Court heard oral argument in BP PLC v. City and County of Baltimore. The respondents filed a Greenhous Gas Climate Change lawsuit in state court, alleging that BP, like other energy companies, is liable for significant damage caused by the sale and promotion of petroleum products while knowing that the use of these products and the resulting release of greenhouse gases damages the environment and public property. Several similar lawsuits have been filed in state courts, pleading common law violations as well as trespass and nuisance law violations The energy companies have tried, unsuccessfully to date, to remove these cases to federal court. The petitioners argue that the federal removal statutes allow the federal courts of appeal to review the lower court’s remand, thus opening the possibility that some of the issues presented in these cases can be tried in federal court, presumably a friendlier forum. A decision on this procedural issue should be rendered in a few months. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Anthony B. Cavender, Pillsbury
    Mr. Cavender may be contacted at anthony.cavender@pillsburylaw.com

    Key Legal Considerations for Modular Construction Contracts

    April 19, 2021 —
    Modular construction is literally on the rise. It is rapidly displacing traditional stick-built construction for new commercial, industrial and residential buildings. Over the past decade, an increasing number of health care, education facilities and apartment buildings have been built using modular construction. As the need for housing, and especially affordable housing, has grown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, modular construction is becoming increasingly popular. Recently, the Canadian government, through the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation, launched a “Rapid Housing Initiative,” a $1 billion program utilizing only modular construction to rapidly construct affordable housing for its citizens. Similarly, the city of Toronto (which last year approved a plan to build 250 modular homes in response to homelessness) plans to build 1,000 modular homes by 2030. The pandemic also has resulted in an urgent demand for modules for medical facilities and schools. Modular construction allows contractors to build “leaner” and “greener” buildings while increasing quality control and improving site safety and potentially saving valuable time and money. Reprinted courtesy of Frederick E. Hedberg, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of
    Mr. Hedberg may be contacted at fhedberg@rc.com

    How Are You Dealing with Material Delays / Supply Chain Impacts?

    June 07, 2021 —
    In a prior article I discussed a material escalation provision in your construction contract to account for the volatility of the material price market. While including such a provision may not have been much of a forethought before, it is now! What about concerns with the actual supply chain that impacts the availability of and the lead time of materials? How are you addressing this concern in your construction contract? The pandemic has raised awareness to this issue as certain material availability has been impacted by the pandemic. As a result, parties in construction have tried to forecast those materials where delivery issues may occur including those materials with longer than expected lead times. But equally important is how this issue is being addressed in your construction contract including how you want to negotiate this risk in future construction contracts. 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

    Contractor Prevails on Summary Judgment To Establish Coverage under Subcontractor's Policy

    June 07, 2021 —
    When sued for construction defects caused by the subcontractor, the general contractor was granted summary judgment on the issue of coverage under the subcontractor's policy. Meritage Homes of Ga. v. Grange Ins. Co., 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84591 (N.D. Ga. March 23, 2021). Meritage built a home for the owners. Easterwood Excavating, Inc. was the subcontractor for excavation and grading work. Meritage was named an additional insured under Easterwood's policy with Grange. After construction was completed, the owners were experiencing severe flooding after rain storms purportedly due to defects in the grading, site preparation and excavation. The owners filed an arbitration against Meritage for damages. The owners alleged that Meritage improperly excavated and graded their lot, causing water to collect and pool in their yard. Meritage denied all liability and looked to Easterwood and Grange for defense and indemnification. Grange denied coverage, contending there was no occurrence which resulted in property damage. The arbitrator found that the folding of water was caused by Meritage's improper grading of the lot. A Final Award in the amount of $129,530.93 was issued against Meritage. 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