South Carolina Construction Lawyer

South Carolina District Court Clarifies Statute of Repose

A SC District Court has reached a decision regarding a potential exception to the eight year statute of repose. Claims brought against an architecture firm and a contractor were barred as untimely despite alleged building code violations. Hampton Hall LLC v. Chapman Coyle Chapman & Associates Architects AIA Inc., et al., No. 17-1575, D. S.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17795). SC Statute of Repose South Carolina Code § 15-3-640 provides that “[n]o actions to recover damages based upon or arising out of the defective or unsafe condition of an improvement to real property may be brought more than eight years after substantial completion of the improvement.” The statute has an exception for gross negligence and fraud which, when a prima facie showing is made, the statute is tolled. Building Code Violation Does Not Trigger Gross Negligence Per Se The Court held that “no authority suggests defects that violate a building code are exempted from the statute of repose governing claims for defec..

Contractors and Force Majeure: Contractual Protection from Hurricanes and Severe Weather

This season is not special as hurricanes are a part of life on the east coast and gulf shores. From New York to Louisiana, just about every state has seen massive property loss from hurricanes during the past ten years. We often see harsh outcomes for those on the coast living in finished homes. What happens to the unfinished and current projects awaiting completion? If you’re building on the coast, take a look at all of the following risk aversion mechanisms: Builders Risk Insurance is necessary as is Coverage for named storms. Be sure to review the “excluded perils” or speak to your agent as hurricane coverage best not be omitted. Once you begin reviewing your current policy or engaging your agent, be sure to check for determination as to the extent of coverage for named storms. Your coverage should be reviewed for property and materials coverage, delay costs, and other particulars. Force Majeure clauses are certainly familiar to you if you’re reading this. In your contract, ther..

Ongoing Operations and Completed Operations Coverage

I often speak with prime contractors and owners who assure me that they require subcontractors to name them as additional insureds. This is the correct line of thinking as additional insured treatment is one of the key principals to adequately transfer the risk of construction defects or non property injury. The devil, as they say, is in the details, however. During these inquiries I often ask for a copy of subcontract documents which, all too often, remain unclear as to the insurance policy requirements of subcontractors who are naming the prime contractor as an additional insured. For instance, the subcontracts are sometimes vague as to what coverage must be obtained by the subcontractor in order to adequately insure the general. A prime contractor seeking additional insured coverage is limited to that specific coverage possessed by the subcontractor. For instance, if a subcontractor's policy is subject to exclusion(a), it follows that the prime contractor will also be exclud..

Mississippi, Chinese Drywall, and an innocent Contractor

Mississippi's Court of Appeals has held that a co tractor may not be held liable for the use of tainted Chinese Drywall. The decision swung on evidence showing the much maligned product was not altered by the contractor, who was also unaware that the product was salvaged. The Mississippi Court of Appeals applied the "innocent seller" exception to the Mississippi Products Liability Act. See Kent Holifield, et al. v. City Salvage, Inc., No. 2015-CA-01293-COA, Miss. App., 2017 Miss. App. LEXIS 115. This blog has discussed Chinese Drywall on many occasions in the past, choosing to focus on high profile cases, and insurance implications. If you are a contractor or seller of materials and have a question about how this ruling might affect you in Mississippi, or South Carolina, call is at your convenience. 843-224-6676

Insurance Market Leader Ames and Gough report Premium Price Decreases

Although a slim majority of insurance companies providing architects and engineers professional liability insurance saw their rates stabilize in 2016, nearly one in three experienced modest rate decreases, according to a new survey by Ames & Gough. Despite intense competition, insurers are maintaining underwriting discipline and placing greater emphasis on claims experience. This year, 95 percent of the insurers surveyed identified recent claims experience as a top reason to raise a firm’s professional liability insurance rates, a significant jump from the 79 percent that cited the factor last year. The other top three underwriting factors this year are: type of projects (84 percent); historic claims experience dating back more than two years (63 percent), and type of work or service (47 percent). When asked whether plans to develop and repair the U.S. infrastructure raised concerns for architects and engineers professional liability exposures, 63 percent of the insurers surveyed cit..

Trump Order on Blacklisting 

In March, President Trump signed a joint resolution eliminating the rule, which had required bidders on federal projects with a value in excess of $500K to report state and federal labor and safety violations within the past three years. The Blacklisting rule, also known as the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order 13673, only went into effect in October 2016. The building industry would certainly favor a vacation from regulatory reporting. It remains to be seen if the Order will have an effect on insurance premiums.

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