In our January 13, 2015 blog, “Florida’s Construction Defect Statute Overhaul in 2015?”, we discussed House Bill 87 (HB 87), filed last December 9 and backed by the Associated General Contractors of America. The bill will significantly revamp Chapter 558 of the Florida Statutes by providing additional requirements for notices of claim, revising the requirements for responses to notices of claim, revising the provisions relating to the production of certain records, and providing for sanctions for unsupported claims under certain circumstances.
The House Civil Justice Subcommittee unanimously passed HB 87 on February 4, 2015, adopting an amendment provided that any claim previously resolved in the time and manner agreed to by the parties but later included in a complaint would be deemed frivolous.
HB 87 passed the Business & Professions Subcommittee on March 10, with one amendment. The amendment, among other things: (1) removes the requirement that the claimant cite to specific provisions of the building code, provide project plans, project drawings, and project specifications; (2) removes language rendering a notice of claim defective if it fails to include required information; (3) clarifies that that the notice of claim must identify the location of each construction defect, based upon at least a visual inspection, sufficiently to enable the responding party to locate the alleged defect without undue burden; and (4) revises a subsection in the bill which created a claim for attorney’s fees and costs for the contractor, and replaces it with language requiring the court to award monetary sanctions against the claimant for pre-suit costs, including costs of inspection, investigation, testing, attorney’s fees, and prejudgment interest, if the court grants a motion for sanctions pursuant to Section 57.105(1), and finds that the notice of claim included an alleged construction defect that the claimant knew or should have known was unsupported.
HB 87 is now in its final committee, the House Judiciary Committee.
A related Senate Bill 418, titled “Construction Defect Claims”, filed in the Florida Senate on January 21, 2015, was referred to the Senate’s Fiscal Policy, Regulated Industries, and Banking and Insurance Committees.