Many construction companies in the state indicate that they continue to face abuse over Chapter 558 claims from overly aggressive clients looking to take advantage of loopholes in the law. Contractors and subcontractors still face overly broad claims when work is not completed on time or is the result of another problem.
What Statute 558 is supposed to do
Also known as the Florida Construction Defect Statute, this legislation was supposed to help contractors resolve construction law disputes involving defects or delays in construction that include civil action and arbitration proceedings before a plaintiff can file to recover for damages. Originally passed in 2003 to avoid frivolous construction lawsuits, the statute worked well until opportunistic clients stepped in, ultimately increasing the number of construction lawsuits that tie up courtrooms and cause general liability premiums to rise for contractors.
Lobbying killed bills favorable to the construction industry
Both Florida House Bill 21 and Senate Bill 270 would have addressed the issue by limiting these construction law issues to material violations that could result in significant harm or damage to a structure. The proposals would have required plaintiffs to detail construction defects fully and include at minimum one photograph of the problem. The Florida Homebuilders Association believes that these provisions will go a long way toward eliminating frivolous lawsuits that end up increasing costs not only for contractors but ultimately for potential buyers of new construction. However, intensive lobbying killed both bills, leaving real estate developers and contractors to continue dealing with this problem.
Defending your company against broad claims
Every real estate developer and contractor encounter construction delays and defects at some point during the building process. Discovering what is reasonable under construction law is key toward protecting yourself and your company. If you believe that your company has been the target of a frivolous construction lawsuit in Florida, working with attorneys experienced in these issues may help minimize the impact on your company and keep down overall costs.