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LIVE WEBINAR

Disaster Planning for the 2011 Hurricane Season - Are You Ready to Weather the Storm? Wednesday, June 1, 2011 10:00 AM– 11:00 AM EDT (9:00 AM – 10:00 PM CDT) Hurricane Season is officially here. While we have had a couple of years in Florida that have perhaps lulled us into a certain complacency, the prediction in 2011 is for nine hurricanes in the Atlantic. Are you ready to weather the storm? Join Bill Strop, who will moderate this webinar, and Rob Rubin and Sanjay Kurian, to learn about recent cases and experiences resulting from recent disasters that will affect how you prepare yourself and your community before the storms hit. William Strop, Esq. Fort Lauderdale Sanjay Kurian, Esq. Fort Myers Robert I. Rubin Esq. West Palm Beach . Click here to register and you will receive a confirmation email with information on how to participate ...

Supreme Court accepts review of Lakeview Reserve v. Maronda Homes

In the recent case of Lakeview Reserve Homeowners v. Maronda Homes, 48 So. 3d 902 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010), Florida's 5th District Court of Appeal found that a homeowner's association had a claim for breach of common law implied warranties of fitness and merchantability against a builder/developer for defects in the roadways, drainage systems, retention ponds and underground pipes.  The Fifth District found that these items immediately supported the homes by making them "habitable, and so, fit for its intended purpose."  In reaching this decision, the Fifth District certified conflict with the Fourth District's 1985 opinion of Port Sewall Harbor & Tennis Club Owners, Association, Inc. v. First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Martin County, 463 So. 2d 530 (Fla. 4th DCA 1985).  The Port Sewall case relied on the Florida Supreme Court's prior decision in Conklin v. Hurley, 428 So. 2d 654 (Fla. 1983), which the Fifth District distinguished. In light of the conflict between the appellate districts, the Florida Supreme Court has...

Construction Contracting for the Owner – Scope of Work

It is an easy enough question, what is the scope of your project? For example it may be simply to reroof the building. However, what materials should be used, what will be done with damaged plywood decking, does the existing roof need to be pulled off or can it be roofed over? These are all basic questions that need to be addressed from what appeared to be a simple question. As the owner, the scope is very important for purposes of knowing what your expectations are and that the contractor understands those expectations.  The scope will also impact the price. In our reroof example, what is the contractor doing with the air conditioner stands on the flat roof? Are they being removed and put back, or the being removed and new ones put in? Can the work be done with the air conditioning units in place?  Whether a reroof or any construction work...

Construction Contracting for the Owner: The Owner – Contractor Relationship

   In choosing a Contractor, often the Owner chooses a Contractor through a bidding process. Sometimes the Owner engages a Contractor on their own.  However the Contractor is contracted it is important to spell out the details of the terms. Courts will not protect an Owner from a bad deal that the Owner has voluntarily entered. This means that those multimillion dollar one page contracts floating around (I have seen a number of them over the years) will be enforced by a court if the Owner does not live up to the terms, no matter how one sided. In the bidding process, the Owner, with the help of the Design Professional, sends out a bid packet to various contractors and invites them to bid on the project.  The Owner and Design Professional then evaluate the bids and review the responsiveness of the bid, the responsibleness of the bids (is the bidder lowballing now in hopes of issuing...

Construction Contracting for the Owner: The Owner – Design Professional Relationship

Once the owner has decided to undertake a project they generally retain the services of a design professional. The design professional is the engineer or architect hired by the owner to be used at various points throughout the project. General discussions between the owner and design professional should include the owner’s expectations of the projects, budgets, specific materials which need to be used or special considerations about the project. In both renovations and new construction these discussions would also include aesthetic considerations.  Although all these discussions may happen, the scope of the design professional’s relationship with the owner is that which is spelled out in the contract between the owner and design professionals. An owner in retaining the design professional needs to define his expectations of the design professional, and those expectations should be reduced to a written contract. As an owner, if you want the design professional to provide contract administration then you must ask...

Construction Contracting for the Owner – Parties to a Construction Project

  This is part 1 of our series on Construction Contracting for the owner.  Once you have decided to begin a construction project, whether this project is a reroof, concrete restoration, painting, repaving or anything else, there are generally 3 main groups involved. The first of these groups is the owner. The owner is the person or entity on whose behalf the work is being done. The types of owners range from an individual, development entity, hotel, condominium association, homeowner's association or a governmental agency.  Although the owner may be using a bank to finance the construction, the owner is the party generally responsible for ensuring payment to the other 2 groups. The second group is generally the design professionals. This group consists of the engineer or architect hired by the owner to prepare any drawings or specifications for the work to be done.  In larger projects, the owner may contract with an Architect who then hires various subconsultants (geotechnical engineer, structural...

Government Bid Protests – An Overview (Part III of III)

In many bid protests, the ultimate question is whether the bidding irregularity or irregularities at issue gave the winning bidder or proposer an unfair advantage over the other bidders or proposers.  But, not all irregularities matter.  If it’s a material irregularity, like the winning bidder changing its price after the bids have been submitted and evaluated, and contrary to the specifications, that may be considered material.  But if it’s a minor irregularity, public agencies typically reserve the right to waive those.

Guess who decides whether an irregularity is material or minor.  The agency.  Also, keep in mind that public agencies are generally afforded wide discretion in soliciting and accepting bids, and in interpreting their own rules and requirements.  In one Florida case, a bidder submitted a cashier’s check instead of a the bid bond required by the Invitation to Bid.  The agency, and later the court, determined that since the cashier’s check accomplished the same purpose as the bid bond, it was considered a minor irregularity.  In that case the fact that bidder at issue was also the lowest bidder, and acceptance of the bid saved the agency money on the project, may have motivated the agency’s decision.

Suppose you file your protest, and someone like the purchasing director, for example, denies the protest on the merits.  Can you go straight to the courthouse to file a lawsuit?  The answer is probably not.  Administrative remedies must be exhausted before you can seek relief from the courts.  This means that you have to go through the protest procedure, and see it through to the end.  You may be required to have a hearing before a hearing officer which is a trial-like procedure.  At the end, the hearing officer may make a recommended award based on the facts presented.  That recommended award goes back to the agency, who may make the final award.

Keep in mind that a hearing officer’s recommended award is just that, a recommendation.  The order is not automatically reviewable by a court.  There may be times where a protestor can have a non-final order reviewed, but likely only if there are immediate negative consequences and review of the administrative agency’s action will not be good enough.