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Looking at some common legal claims in construction litigation, P.1

In our last two posts, we looked at several recent construction-related disputes here in Florida, noting some of the claims in those cases. In two of the cases we mentioned, the primary issue was construction defects, whereas the third case involved design defects. In this and future posts, we want to look at some of the legal claims that may be used to seek compensation for such matters in court.

First of all, there are several types of claims upon which construction and design defects can be based. Breach of contract is, of course, a common claim for parties involved in the construction process when issues arise. Liability for breach of contract depends, naturally, on the specific language used in the contractual agreements between parties, and it can get pretty complicated pretty quickly, especially when multiple subcontractors are involved. 

Breach of contract may be alleged when a contractor fails to complete the work specified in the contract. This can come up any number of ways, depending on the circumstances. In some cases, incomplete work occurs when the general contractor doesn’t have clear contractual terms with subcontractors and confusion arises. In other cases, it is a result of the general contractor and the property owner not sufficiently defining the scope and the details of the project. Sometimes plans change part way through a project and the project is modified, which can lead to confusion. Whatever the case may be, the job doesn’t get done, or doesn’t get done the way parties thought they agreed upon.

In some breach of contract cases, a contractor or subcontractor may defend itself on the grounds that it was impossible to complete the job. This can be a viable defense, but it requires showing either that performing the job or task in question was literally impossible, or else so impracticable as to make no sense at all to carry out, given all reasonable alternatives. Impossibility of performance is not available, though, in cases where the contractor had prior knowledge of the facts which made performance impossible. In other words, a contractor can be held liable for failing to perform a contractual promise which is impossible to perform if he or she knew or should have known before entering into the contract that it would be impossible.

In our next post, we’ll continue this discussion, looking at several other potential types of claims in construction litigation cases

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