Street intersection

Munro involved a dispute over the design of a Georgia intersection.

Courthouse Reporter Series: The Bizarre Case That Required a 117-Year-Old Expert

Monday, December 4, 2023 — Todd Heffner & Di'Vennci Lucas - The Dispute Resolver

A recent decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals, Munro v. Georgia Department of Transportation, highlights how overly specific and inflexible rules of evidence can create peculiar results.

Munro involved a dispute over the design of a Georgia intersection. No. A23A0404, 2023 WL 4194716 (Ga. Ct. App. June 27, 2023). The plaintiff alleged that the defendant improperly designed the intersection, never corrected that improper design, and failed to properly maintain the intersection. These claims were dismissed for a very odd reason: the plaintiff’s expert witness wasn’t old enough.

The case arose from a car accident. A vehicle in which the plaintiff Munro was a passenger collided with a tractor trailer crossing an intersection. Munro sued the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) for negligently designing, maintaining, and inspecting the intersection. The DOT filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground of sovereign immunity and a motion to exclude the testimony of the Munros’ expert witness, among other motions. The trial court dismissed the case in full on the sovereign immunity ground and denied the other motions as moot. The Munros appealed.

Reprinted courtesy of Todd Heffner, Troutman Pepper and Di'Vennci Lucas, Troutman Pepper

Mr. Heffner may be contacted at todd.heffner@troutman.com

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Contractors on roof

On May 8, 2017, the insureds' home was struck by a hailstorm that damaged their property.

Appraisal Award for Damaged Roof Tiles Challenged

Monday, December 4, 2023 — Tred R. Eyerly - Insurance Law Hawaii

The district court denied Travelers' motion for summary judgment and granted the insureds' motion in part regarding replacement of roof tiles damaged in a hail storm. Bertisen v. Travelers Home & Marine Ins. Co., 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159649 (D. Colo. Sept. 8,2023).

On May 8, 2017, the insureds' home was struck by a hailstorm that damaged their property. A Travelers inspector found damage to metal roof components, a deck, patio furniture and gutters. A partial payment of $6,381.04 was made. A further payment was made for personal property damaged by the storm. Travelers disputed that the hailstorm caused damage to all of the roof tiles.

Travelers' adjustor reinspected the property and observed additional damages caused by hail and another payment of $6,605.22 was issued.

Reprinted courtesy of Tred R. Eyerly, Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert

Mr. Eyerly may be contacted at te@hawaiilawyer.com

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Two construction workers posing

Contractors need to be both proactive in negotiating a well-defined contingency clause and mindful of the consequences resulting from improper implementation.

The Contractor’s Contingency: What Contractors and Construction Managers Need to Know and Be Wary Of

Monday, December 4, 2023 — Skyler L. Santomartino - Peckar & Abramson, P.C.

Contractors and construction managers who enter into cost reimbursable contracts subject to a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) are responsible for all project costs exceeding the GMP. For this reason, it is imperative that contractors negotiate and incorporate into the GMP a financial buffer that accounts for the unanticipated project costs that are not reimbursable as change orders or costs of the work. This is where the contractor’s contingency comes into play.[1]

The contractor’s contingency is a vehicle that allows contractors to mitigate some of the risks inherent in GMP contracts. When drafted properly, a contingency clause allows the contractor and only the contractor to access funds set aside by the owner to address unpredictable or unknown project costs.

Reprinted courtesy of Skyler L. Santomartino, Peckar & Abramson, P.C.

Mr. Santomartino may be contacted at ssantomartino@pecklaw.com

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Affordable Robots Could Reshape Reality Capture in Construction

December 4, 2023 — Aarni Heiskanen - AEC Business

Drones are now in the mainstream of reality capture on construction sites. In interior construction, hard hat cameras and human-operated laser scanners are still the best way to collect accurate data. Quadrupled robots could be an alternative, but in many cases, they are considered too expensive. That may change soon, as both robots with upgraded hardware and AI-powered software are becoming accessible even to consumers.

An example of a very capable consumer-grade robot is Unitree Go2 which performs better than industrial robots a few years back. What makes Go2 extra interesting is its price tag, starting at $1600.

Mr. Heiskanen may be contacted at aec-business@aepartners.fi

A Guide to Help Reduce Your Commercial Property Risk

December 4, 2023 — The Hartford Staff - The Hartford Insights

The last three years have been unequivocally stressful for commercial real estate. As we collectively navigate the unknown – from pandemic aftershocks to extreme weather – it’s important to understand how the commercial property market has been affected, and the steps you can take to better protect your business from disruptions. Professionals at The Hartford highlight the current economic, industry and underwriting risks that will impact commercial real estate.

Economic Shifts May Boost the Property Market
The rapid rise in interest rates reduced activity in the property market over the past year. However, data suggests that housing is generally mixed, though building activity is slowing. And nonresidential is seeing resilience in select areas.1

Homebuilder Shorts Are Ripe for a Squeeze With Rally Gaining Strength

December 4, 2023 — Norah Mulinda & Carmen Reinicke - Bloomberg

With mortgage rates retreating and inflation abating, short sellers who’d been capitalizing on the three-month slump in homebuilder stocks may need to prepare for a rebound toward year-to-date highs.

The S&P Composite 1500 Homebuilding Index has surged more than 20% in a bounce-back rally that started at the end of October and regained nearly all losses from the rout that began in July.

Reprinted courtesy of Norah Mulinda, Bloomberg and Carmen Reinicke, Bloomberg

CLE Bootcamp: Hot Topics in the Law

December 4, 2023 — Beverley BevenFlorez – CDJ Staff

The Seminar Group presents the 22nd annual CLE Bootcamp where attorneys can “earn a lot of CLE Credits in a unique and entertaining format.” The event “is designed to address timely and relevant issues in the law covering a wide span of specialties.” Some of the many topics to be covered include “Real Estate and Housing Update,” “Environmental Law,” “Insurance Law,” and “Construction Law Update.”

December 12th-13th, 2023
Courtyard Seattle Downtown/Lake Union
925 Westlake Avenue North
Seattle WA, 98109

Featured Experts For More Visit Us At:

Construction and Design Consulting Expert Witness area area area

Roofing and Waterproofing Consultant Testifying Expert Witness area area area

Builders Standard of Care Expert Witness and Consulting General Contractor area area area

Fountain pen on Claim

This article touches on competing unjust enrichment claims and the apportionment of those claims.

Unjust Enrichment Claims When There Is No Binding Contract

Monday, December 4, 2023 — David Adelstein - Florida Construction Legal Updates

A recent appellate opinion starts off, “This is a typical South Florida construction dispute.” (See case citation at the bottom) Let’s see, is it? No. It’s a garden variety payment dispute where the parties did NOT have a binding contract. Why? That’s for a different day (because the smart practice is ALWAYS to have a contract!) but it touches on the equitable, unjust enrichment claim. And it touches on competing unjust enrichment claims and the apportionment of those claims. In other words, can both parties be right on their unjust enrichment claims?

An owner hired a general contractor for home renovations. Work started but the relationship soured and the general contractor did not complete the work. The general contractor filed a payment dispute against the owner based on unpaid invoices. It pled alternative theories of recovery against the owner: breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The owner filed a counterclaim against the general contractor for the same claims. During the non-jury trial, the general contractor presented unpaid invoices along with testimony that the invoices represented the value of services rendered. The owner presented evidence of the completion of work damages.

Reprinted courtesy of David Adelstein, Kirwin Norris, P.A.

Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at dma@kirwinnorris.com

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Red arrow surging upward

Modular construction growth in the US is largely due to the technological advances and globalization.

The Rise of Modular Construction – Impacts for Consideration

Monday, December 4, 2023 — Chad V. Theriot - ConsensusDocs

Modular construction is not new. However, over the last several years, modular construction has seen significant growth with no signs of slowing down. In 2021, global modular construction represented a market of approximately $130 billion and is projected to reach upwards of $235 billion by 2031. Modular construction growth in the US is largely due to the technological advances and globalization.

In general, modular construction involves the manufacturing and fabrication of standardized components of a structure in an off-site, controlled environment. Once those components are fabricated, they are then transported to the project site and assembled by an installer or contractor. Moving these fabrication and construction activities off-site allows the fabricator to control the quality standards over the fabrication process and gain the economic advantage of an assembly line and manufacturing process. This leads to a reduction in cost. This cost savings is then passed on to the owner, thereby driving down the overall price of construction.

Reprinted courtesy of Chad V. Theriot, Jones Walker (ConsensusDocs)

Mr. Theriot may be contacted at ctheriot@joneswalker.com

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Money bills

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency already has $300 million for the project from the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

White House Seeks $310M To Fix Critical San Diego Wastewater Plant

Monday, December 4, 2023 — James Leggate - Engineering News-Record

The Biden administration’s $55.9-billion supplemental funding request to Congress for disaster response and other issues includes $310 million for a project to repair and expand the ailing South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant in San Diego, Calif. The plant is part of a repeatedly overwhelmed wastewater treatment system on the U.S.-Mexico border that has allowed untreated sewage flows to foul area beaches.

Reprinted courtesy of James Leggate, Engineering News-Record

Mr. Leggate may be contacted at leggatej@enr.com

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Construction worker walking through site

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the turnover rate for the construction industry since 2021 has risen to 56%.

Labor Shortages In Construction

Monday, December 4, 2023 — Jason Feld & Chris Bates - Kahana Feld

Similar to other industries, the ongoing labor shortage crisis in the United States is detrimentally impacting construction activities in both the residential and commercial sector. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the turnover rate for the construction industry since 2021 has risen to 56%. And while the national unemployment rate ranges between 0.4% to 7.5%, the unemployment rate for construction is roughly four times the national average (See, Associated Builders and Contractors, Markenstein Advisors Report dated July 28, 2023). 73% of workers preferred to stay in a remote work environment, and another 40% of the global workforce has elected to voluntarily remove themselves from the workplace. (See, 2021 Microsoft Work Index). In particular with the construction industry, employment rates have returned to pre-pandemic levels hovering around 12% unemployment in 2020 to 6% in 2022. (See, Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, Carlos Martin).

So where did all the workers go? During the height of the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic and for the next few years, the county experienced what most people are calling “The Great Resignation”. May people took jobs with better pay and better alignment with their values. Approximately 40% stated a new business. Many elected to become stay-at-home parents forgoing a paycheck to raise their families while the other spouse works, especially due to the rising costs of childcare. About 1 in every 4 baby-boomers retired. Others took part-time employment, entered military service or left the workforce due to disability or injury. (See, Bloomberg Businessweek).

Reprinted courtesy of Jason Feld, Kahana Feld and Chris Bates, Kahana Feld
Mr. Feld may be contacted at jfeld@kahanafeld.com
Mr. Bates may be contacted at cbates@kahanafeld.com

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Three businessmembers with thumbs up

Leaders at The Hartford share how technology, proper planning and strong recruitment efforts can help combat the ongoing construction labor shortage and supply chain delays.

The Top 3 Trends That Will Impact the Construction Industry in 2024

Monday, December 4, 2023 — The Hartford Staff - The Hartford Insights

As more than 40% of the current U.S. construction workforce will retire in the next decade, industry leaders need to equip themselves with the necessary resources to combat the shifting work environment.1

“Trends in the construction industry will fluctuate in the coming years, which can lead to additional risks for industry leaders. It will be important to think about how they can address any potential risk factors. A lot of leaders have been increasing their planning efforts and looking into technology solutions to combat the ongoing labor shortage,” said David DeSilva, head of construction at The Hartford. Here, he outlines the top three top trends for business leaders to watch in 2024.

1. Ongoing Labor Shortages
Construction is an industry that traditionally has a high labor turnover rate, which means companies needs to hire more frequently. This only increases during labor shortages. The construction workforce is up against several factors, including an aging workforce and recruitment struggles.

Reprinted courtesy of The Hartford Staff, The Hartford Insights
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Best Keyboard Key

Achieving a tiered ranking in Best Law Firms signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.

White and Williams Selected in the 2024 Best Law Firms ranked by Best Lawyers®

Monday, December 4, 2023 — White and Williams LLP

White and Williams LLP is proud to be selected in the 2024 Best Law Firms ranked by Best Lawyers®.

The firm was recognized in the National Rankings in four practice areas including both Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law and Insurance Law (Tier 1). In addition, the firm’s office locations in Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Baltimore, Delaware and New Jersey were recognized for 30 practice areas in the Metropolitan rankings.

Achieving a tiered ranking in Best Law Firms signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise. The Best Law Firms research methodology includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process.

The 2024 Best Law Firms rankings can be accessed at www.bestlawfirms.com.

2024 Best Law Firms

    National Tier 1
  • Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
  • Insurance Law
    National Tier 3
  • Construction Law
  • Litigation – Construction
Reprinted courtesy of White and Williams LLP
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Another St. Louis Resident Loses Property Through Recorder of Deeds Office

Three judges sitting behind bench

Raymond Budd sued Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc. and others for damages, contending that the company’s joint compound caused his mesothelioma.

Court of Appeals Confirms that King County Superior Court’s Jury Selection Process Satisfies Due Process Requirements

Monday, December 4, 2023 — Joshua Lane - Ahlers Cressman & Sleight PLLC

Raymond Budd developed mesothelioma after working with a drywall product called “joint compound” from 1962 to 1972. He sued Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc. and others for damages, contending that the company’s joint compound caused his illness. A jury returned a verdict in Budd’s favor and awarded him nearly $13.5 million. Kaiser appealed, claiming (1) insufficient randomness in the jury-selection process, (2) erroneous transcription of expert testimony, (3) lack of proximate causation, (4) lack of medical causation, (5) an improper jury instruction on defective design, (6) improper exclusion of sexual battery and marital discord evidence, (7) improper admission of post-exposure evidence, (8) improper exclusion of regulatory provisions, and (9) a failure to link its product to Budd’s disease. The Court of Appeals, Division 1, affirmed the verdict in favor of Budd.

Though all of the nine bases for error raised by Kaiser merit discussion, the jury-selection process issue is most probative here. Kaiser made three challenges against the jury selection process.

Reprinted courtesy of Joshua Lane, Ahlers Cressman & Sleight PLLC

Mr. Lane may be contacted at joshua.lane@acslawyers.com

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Lady law blindfolded holding scales of justice

Victims of racist harassment don’t always win huge damage awards or settlements.

Unpunished Racist Taunts: A Pennsylvania Harassment Case With No True 'Winner'

Monday, December 4, 2023 — Richard Korman - Engineering News-Record

The taunts started in the first days of Andre Pryce’s new job, camouflaged as joking. During the nine months of 2019 spent working as a drill rig hand, mostly in the woods in western Pennsylvania, for a contractor that also performs much construction-related drilling, he said coworkers filled his ears with racist insults.

Reprinted courtesy of Richard Korman, Engineering News-Record

Mr. Korman may be contacted at kormanr@enr.com

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White House

US construction firm seeking Biden’s help to avoid seizure.

AMLO Hits Back at Vulcan, Threatens to Use Environmental Decree

Monday, December 4, 2023 — Maya Averbuch & Eric Martin - Bloomberg

Mexico’s president threatened to declare a disputed property owned by Vulcan Materials Co. an environmentally protected area, after failing to reach an agreement with the US construction firm.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Vulcan continued work at the site even while in talks with his government over its potential purchase of the property, which was occupied by Mexican marines in March. Accusing the company of “vile trickery,” AMLO — as the president is known — told reporters Friday that he would act by decree if necessary to halt the destruction in “one of the most beautiful areas in the world.”

His comments came a day after Bloomberg reported that the Alabama-based firm was seeking the Biden administration’s protection from what it sees as the threat of a hostile takeover of its property. The 2,400 hectare (5,930 acre) plot south of the resort city of Playa del Carmen includes a port and a quarry.

Reprinted courtesy of Maya Averbuch, Bloomberg and Eric Martin, Bloomberg

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House key

A recent webinar examined the Corporate Transparency Act and its impact on real estate entities and transactions.

Corporate Transparency Act’s Impact on Real Estate: Reporting Companies, Exemptions and Beneficial Ownership Reporting (webinar)

Monday, December 4, 2023 — Pillsbury's Construction & Real Estate Law Team - Gravel2Gavel Construction & Real Estate Law Blog

On October 23, 2023, colleague Andrew Weiner and Kevin Gaunt, counsel at Hunton Andrews Kurth, examined the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), effective Jan. 1, 2024, and its impact on real estate entities and transactions, including who is considered a reporting company subject to new beneficial ownership information (BOI) reporting requirements and whether an exemption applies. The panel also discussed certain state laws that impose similar reporting requirements as the CTA and described best practices for real estate counsel to assist their clients with preparing for the CTA’s implementation and ongoing compliance.

The panel also reviewed other important considerations, including:

  1. Which real estate entities will likely be most affected by the CTA’s implementation and why?
  2. What exemptions may apply?
  3. How will the CTA’s reporting requirements affect real estate transactions for lenders and investors/buyers?
Reprinted courtesy of Pillsbury's Construction & Real Estate Law Team
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Builders Standard of Care Expert Witness and Consulting General Contractor area area area

Builders Standard of Care Expert Witness and Consulting General Contractor area area area

Builders Standard of Care Expert Witness and Consulting General Contractor area area area