This past legislative session, several substantive changes were made to the pre-suit requirements for construction defect lawsuits. As many of you are aware, Florida Statute 558 establishes a series of steps that need to be taken prior to a construction defect lawsuit being filed. The intent of the statute is to try to resolve construction defect disputes, without the need for costly litigation. One of the steps required by the statute is for the claimant (often times a condominium or homeowners’ association) to send written notice of the defects, to all the parties the claimant believes are responsible for the construction defects. The claimant normally hires an engineering firm to conduct an inspection of the property. The engineering firm then prepares a report that identifies all of the construction defects found within the property. The engineering report is normally attached to the notice sent to the alleged responsible parties. The alleged responsible parties then have an opportunity to inspect, repair and/or respond to the claims. If the claimant and the alleged responsible parties cannot resolve their differences, they can then proceed to litigation.
The prior version of the statute required the claimant to describe each alleged construction defect and the damage resulting from the defect. However, it did not require the claimant to describe the exact location of each specific defect. The new version of the statute requires the claimant to identify the location for each specific defect, in addition to the prior requirements. This new requirement will make the 558 process more expensive for the claimant because it will require a more thorough engineering analysis of the subject property. However, this additional information may make it easier for the parties to resolve their differences, without the need for costly litigation.
Another one of the changes to Florida Statute 558 is the requirement to allow the insurer of the contractor, subcontractor, supplier or design professional to participate in the 558 process. Allowing the insurers to get involved early on in the process may also make it easier for the parties to resolve their differences, without the need for costly litigation.
Please note the above changes will take place on October 1, 2015. Should you have any questions regarding the above, feel free to contact me.