Because of advancements in the use of digital technology in the administration of construction contracts, the 2017 AIA documents now default to the AIA’s Digital Data Use and Transmission protocol established in 2013 as set forth in the E203. Section 1.8 of the A201 now provides that the contractor’s reliance on BIM modeling will be at its “sole risk and without liability of any other party” unless the parties use AIA E203 and G202 BIM Modeling documents. Clearly, this provision allocates significant risk to the contractor. Contractors’ and their attorneys should consider modifying this language if the AIA digital transmission documents are not agreed to and utilized by the parties.

_____________________________________________________________

W Mason is an partner with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP. W practices in Fox Rothschild’s Litigation department in West Palm Beach, Florida. W is Board Certified in Construction Law by the Florida Bar Association. W focuses his practice on construction and commercial litigation throughout Florida. You can reach W at (561) 804-4432 or wmason@foxrothschild.com.

I’ve posted over on Fox’s In the Weeds blog.  See my post regarding a recent Florida Court decision that found in favor of a medical marijuana patient who wants to or needs to grow his own medical marijuana.


Dori K. Stibolt is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Dori defends and counsels management in labor and employment litigation matters pertaining to wage and overtime claims, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave/restraint, and whistle-blower claims.  You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or dstibolt@foxrothschild.com.

In my August post, I discussed two cases.  In the Failla case, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the District Court’s opinion that “once the debtor decides to ‘surrender’ secured property… [w]hile the debtor need not physically deliver the property to the secured party, the debtor is precluded from taking any action which would interfere with the secured creditor’s ability to obtain legal title to, and possession of, the property through legal means.”  Thereafter, the S.D. Bankruptcy Court held, in the Kurzban case, that “the Eleventh Circuit did not rule that a debtor’s decision to surrender lasted in perpetuity“.

As of October 1, 2018, a new statute which expands on the spirit of both the Failla and Kurzban cases will apply to all foreclosure cases filed on or after October 1, 2018.  Specifically, Senate Bill No. 220 was signed into law by Florida Governor Rick Scott this month and will become effective as Section 702.12, Florida Statutes.

Section 702.12 will streamline the foreclosure process for mortgage lenders where bankrupt borrowers have filed an intention to surrender the lender’s property, not withdrawn that intention, and the Bankruptcy Court has entered a final order either granting the bankruptcy debtor(s) a discharge, or confirming a repayment plan that provides for surrender of the property.  If these circumstances are present, the statute provides mortgage lenders with a rebuttable presumption that the borrower has waived any defenses to foreclosure.  The statute further provides that the court shall take judicial notice of Bankruptcy Court orders upon the request of lender.

While Section 702.12 is a positive new law for mortgage lenders, the advice in my August post, still applies – Do NOT sit on your rights!   Section 702.12(3), similar to the ruling in Kurzban, provides that the borrower is not precluded from raising a defense based on the mortgage lender’s action or inaction subsequent to the filing of the bankruptcy document which evidenced the borrower’s intention to surrender the mortgaged property to the mortgage lender.


  Heather L. Ries is an attorney with the Financial Restructuring and Bankruptcy Department of the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP. Heather focuses her practice in matters related to bankruptcy, creditors’ rights, commercial workout and foreclosure disputes, and commercial litigation. You can contact Heather at 561-804-4419 or hries@foxrothschild.com.

I’ve posted again on Fox’s In the Weeds blog.  See my post regarding changes to Florida’s medical marijuana laws and funding from the 2018 Florida legislative session.


Dori K. Stibolt is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Dori defends and counsels management in labor and employment litigation matters pertaining to wage and overtime claims, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave/restraint, and whistle-blower claims.  You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or dstibolt@foxrothschild.com.

Please see my post, over on Fox’s In the Weeds blog.  Trial on the Florida case challenging the ban on smoking medical marijuana has been set.


Dori K. Stibolt is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Dori defends and counsels management in labor and employment litigation matters pertaining to wage and overtime claims, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave/restraint, and whistle-blower claims.  You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or dstibolt@foxrothschild.com.

Florida House Bill 7061 and Florida Senate Bill 1384 propose to raise the jurisdictional amount in controversy limit for county courts from $15,000 to $50,000. Not only does this change expand county court jurisdiction at the trial court level, it also means that circuit courts, rather than district courts of appeal, will have jurisdiction over appeals in cases up to $50,000. Currently, it almost never makes economic sense to appeal a county court decision because the amount in controversy is so low at $15,000. As such, Circuit Courts are rarely called upon to decide appeals.  However, if the amount in controversy limit is raised to $50,000, circuit courts will undoubtedly see many more appeals from county court decisions. As a result of the expanded appeals jurisdiction and appeal case load of the circuit courts, appeals practitioners will effectively have opinions from twenty active appeals circuits to reconcile when handling a county court appeal. Keep in mind that circuit court judges are less equipped to handle the expanded appeals case load as they already carry massive trial court case loads and do not have law clerks like appeals judges to perform the research and writing tasks required for appellate work.

_______________________________________________________________

W Mason is an partner with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP. W practices in Fox Rothschild’s Litigation department in West Palm Beach, Florida. W is Board Certified in Construction Law by the Florida Bar Association. W focuses his practice on construction and commercial litigation throughout Florida. You can reach W at (561) 804-4432 or wmason@foxrothschild.com.

In my November and December posts, I discussed the basics regarding protection of your Florida Homestead from forced sale by creditors and some of the exceptions.

A recent decision from the Second District Court of Appeal of Florida provides a good reminder of another Florida Homestead pitfall.

The Florida Constitution, Article X, Section 4 provides as follows: “There shall be exempt from forced sale under process of any court, and no judgment, decree[,] or execution shall be a lien thereon, … property owned by a natural person.”  As such, the plain language of the Florida Constitution requires that the owner of the property be a natural person to claim the homestead exemption.

While there is case authority which provides that property held in a revocable living trust may qualify for homestead protection, property titled in the name of a corporation, a limited liability company, or a partnership doesn’t qualify.  This is because an individual must have an ownership interest in a residence that gives the individual the right to use and occupy it as his or her place of abode, to qualify for Florida’s homestead exemption.  Be careful how you title your home!


  Heather L. Ries is an attorney with the Financial Restructuring and Bankruptcy Department of the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP. Heather focuses her practice in matters related to bankruptcy, creditors’ rights, commercial workout and foreclosure disputes, and commercial litigation. You can contact Heather at 561-804-4419 or hries@foxrothschild.com.

Another so called emotional support animal (“ESA”) has acted out again, this time biting a child on a SouthWest flight.  SouthWest is now examining its animal policies.

See my prior post regarding Delta airlines tightening up its ESA policy.


Dori K. Stibolt is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Dori defends and counsels management in labor and employment litigation matters pertaining to wage and overtime claims, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave/restraint, and whistle-blower claims.  You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or dstibolt@foxrothschild.com.

Perhaps the most significant change to the A201-2017 is the inclusion of a comprehensive insurance exhibit. Prior to the inclusion of the insurance exhibit in the 2017 update, parties to an AIA construction contract would often draft a separate insurance exhibit or rider that was reviewed and approved by their insurance agents. The new standard form insurance exhibit, which becomes Exhibit A to a comprehensive owner-contractor agreement, alleviates the need to create a separate exhibit from scratch.

The new insurance exhibit uses a “check-box” list of insurance requirements that the owner and contractor can use to allocate insurance requirements for the project. Because the insurance provisions are set forth in the standard exhibit, the parties can reduce their reliance on their insurance professionals to negotiate and approve the insurance requirements for a project. The insurance exhibit is used with the 201 and incorporated into any contract using the A101, A102, or A103. It is not incorporated into the simplified A104 or A105.

__________________________________________________________________________________

W Mason is an partner with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP. W practices in Fox Rothschild’s Litigation department in West Palm Beach, Florida. W is Board Certified in Construction Law by the Florida Bar Association. W focuses his practice on construction and commercial litigation throughout Florida. You can reach W at (561) 804-4432 or wmason@foxrothschild.com.

Please see my post, over on Fox’s In the Weeds blog, regarding the possible resurgence of hemp as a Florida cash crop and, perhaps, as a crop to replace the citrus industry.


Dori K. Stibolt is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Dori defends and counsels management in labor and employment litigation matters pertaining to wage and overtime claims, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave/restraint, and whistle-blower claims.  You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or dstibolt@foxrothschild.com.