QUICK NOTE: “EFFECTIVE” NOTICE OF COMMENCEMENT

As a contractor (or subcontractor or supplier if an unconditional payment bond is not furnished by the contractor) you always want to make sure (1) there is a notice of commencement that was recorded for the job and (2) you are working under an EFFECTIVE notice of commencement or amended notice of commencement.  An effective notice of commencement is a notice of commencement (or amended notice of commencement that amends an original notice of commencement prior to its expiration) that has not expired and allows your lien to relate back to the date the notice of commencement was originally recorded.

 

In the event you are not paid, you will want to record a construction lien to secure your nonpayment against the property and you will want your lien to relate back in time to the original notice of commencement.   When it comes to liens, a lien is typically only as good as the equity in the property oftentimes dictated by the priority of the lien.  (For example, if the property is worth $1 Million, but there is a $1.1 Million mortgage on the property, there is no equity in the property because the mortgage would have priority over the construction lien.)

 

As an owner, there may be times you want to terminate an EFFECTIVE notice of commencement.  Maybe the job is completed and the notice of commencement is still in effect and you want to cut off lien priority rights.  Maybe you want to convert your construction loan into a permanent loan.  Maybe you want to re-finance.  Maybe you want to secure a construction loan after construction commenced.  Any one of these factors will support recording a notice of termination of the notice of commencement.  When you borrow money from a lender, a lender will typically want their mortgage to be first priority.  This means the mortgage cannot be recorded after an effective notice of commencement otherwise potential liens can take priority over the mortgage.  No lender will want this to occur.

 

It is always advisable to work with counsel when it comes to notices commencement, amended notices of commencement, notices of termination of a notice of commencement, and, of course, construction liens.

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

QUICK NOTE: PERFECTING & PRESERVING CONSTRUCTION LIEN & PAYMENT BOND RIGHTS

imagesYou are a subcontractor, sub-subcontractor, or supplier on a construction project.  What steps can you take to maximize your ability to collect payment?  

 

 

  1. Read this chart to understand what steps you need to undertake to preserve and perfect construction lien or payment bond rights. This chart will assist you with what notices you may need to serve to preserve your lien or payment bond rights and the timing to do so.  
  2.  Read this article that has tidbits to maximize payment on a private construction project.  This article will be beneficial for any subcontractor, sub-subcontractor, or supplier that performs work on a private construction project. 
  3. Take a look at the below presentation.  This is a presentation I put on with a notice company that summarizes steps you can implement to preserve your rights and increase your chances to timely collect payment.
  4. Please consult a construction attorney so that you can be proactive and not necessarily reactive when it comes to perfecting and preserving your rights.

 

Download (PPTX, 818KB)

 

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

QUICK NOTE: FILING THE “SHOW CAUSE” COMPLAINT REGARDING A CONSTRUCTION LIEN

imagesI have talked about your options when there is a construction lien on your property.  One option discussed is the “show cause” complaint pursuant to Florida Statute s. 713.21(4) where you sue the construction lienor giving them 20 days to show cause why its lien should not be enforced or vacated and cancelled. If the lienor fails to show cause within the 20 days by filing its construction lien foreclosure lawsuit within this time frame, the court must order cancellation of the lien. See Ruffolo v. Parish & Bowman, Inc., 966 So.2d 434, 436 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007) (“When a property owner invokes section 713.21(4), a lienor must strictly comply with section 713.21(4) in order to preserve its lien, and a trial court is without discretion to deviate from the statutorily specified time limits.”); Dracon Const. Inc. v. Facility Const. Management, Inc., 828 So.2d 1069 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002) (filing a motion for an extension of time to assert lien foreclosure lawsuit is not good cause warranting the court’s cancellation of the subcontractor’s lien.)

 

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

QUICK NOTE: PERFECT PRIVATE PROJECT PAYMENT BOND RIGHTS IF NOT IN PRIVITY WITH GENERAL CONTRACTOR

imagesRemember, if you are not in privity of contract with the general contractor on a private project where the general contractor furnished the owner with a payment bond (e.g., sub-subcontractor or supplier), you NEED to perfect your payment bond rights by initially serving a notice of intent to look to the bond on the general contractor.  (Or, serve a notice to owner but make sure you serve a copy on the general contractor).  Not serving the general contractor with this initial notice can deprive you of payment bond rights.  How do you know if there is a payment bond in place?  Pull up the notice of commencement recorded in the official records where the property is located which should identify if there is a payment bond and will attach a copy of the payment bond.  

 

For more information on payment bond rights, check out this chart.

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

QUICK NOTE: LIABILITY INSURER’S BAD-FAITH BASED ON TOTALITY OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES

imagesGenerally, whether a liability insurer engaged in bad-faith is a question of fact to be determined based on the totality of factual circumstances.  In other words, there is more to it then the insured being exposed to a verdict / judgment in excess of the insured’s liability policy’s limits since it is based on a totality of circumstances and reasonablness standard.  As explained by the Eleventh Circuit quoting the Florida Supreme Court: “The insurer must investigate the facts, give fair consideration to a settlement offer that is not unreasonable under the facts, and settle, if possible, where a reasonably prudent person, faced with the prospect of paying the total recovery, would do so.”   Moore v. Geico Ins. Co., 2016 WL 736824, *2 (11th Cir. 2016) quoting Berges v. Infinity Ins. Co., 896 So.2d 665, 668-69 (Fla. 2004).   For more on a general understanding of bad-faith claims in Florida, check out this article.  

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

QUICK NOTE: CGL INSURER LIABLE FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES IF IT UNJUSTIFIABLY REFUSED TO PROVIDE YOU DEFENSE

images

 

If your CGL (or liability) insurer unjustifiably refuses to provide you a defense in a lawsuit, the insurer is liable for the reasonable attorney’s fees and costs you incur in defending that lawsuit.  The operative word is “unjustifiably.”  For instance, if you get sued and your CGL insurer refuses to provide you a defense and you retain private counsel to defend you, the CGL insurer will be liable for your attorney’s fees and costs if it should have provided you a duty defend in connection with that suit.  Of course, on the other hand, if the CGL insurer justifiably refused to defend you (based on the allegations in the lawsuit / claim and coverage under the policy) then it will not be liable for your reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

QUICK NOTE: SUIT AGAINST MILLER ACT PAYMENT BOND MAY NOT BE BROUGHT UNTIL 90 DAYS AFTER FINAL FURNISHING

 

imagesIf you have a claim against a Miller act payment bond, a lawsuit cannot be brought until 90 days after your final furnishing date.  This is set forth in 40 USC s. 3133(b)(1) that provides if you “have not been paid in full within 90 days after the day on which…[you]…performed the last of the labor or furnished or supplied the material for which the claim is made [you] may bring a civil action on the payment bond.”   In other words, your claim is ripe 90 days after your final furnishing date.  With that said, even if you prematurely filed suit before this 90-day period, there is authority that the lawsuit should not be dismissed, but rather, you can cure this by filing a supplemental pleading (relating back to the original pleading).  Otherwise, if the lawsuit was dismissed, you could potentially be facing a statute of limitations argument barring your right to seek a Miller Act payment bond claim.

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

QUICK NOTE: DON’T NEGLECT CONDITIONS PRECEDENT TO PAYMENT IN YOUR CONTRACT

imagesThere is a good chance your contract contains conditions precedent to payment.  Such conditions precedent to payment include waivers and releases of lien (and, perhaps, claims) and contractually required warranties.  Make sure to comply with conditions precedent to payment!

 

In a case where a subcontractor sued a payment bond surety, the court held the subcontractor’s lawsuit was premature because the subcontractor did not comply with a condition precedent to payment, that being the submission of a release in satisfactory form.  Until such condition precedent was satisfied, payment was not due and owing the subcontractor.  

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

QUICK NOTE: HAVE YOU SEEN THE “SEPARATION OF INSUREDS” PROVISION IN YOUR CGL POLICY?

imagesHave you ever looked at your CGL policy and seen the “Separation of Insureds” provision? You must have seen it but perhaps it does not ring a bell.  If you are an additional insured under another’s policy or have additional insured under your policy, this is an important provision.  Check out this article to understand the application of the “Separation of Insureds” provision in your CGL policy. 

 

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.