Tort Claims Against an Alter Ego May Be Considered an Action “On a Contract” for the Purposes of an Attorneys’ Fees Award under California Civil Code section 1717
April 12, 2021 — Tony Carucci - Snell & Wilmer Real Estate Litigation Blog
California Civil Code section 1717 entitles the prevailing party to attorneys’ fees “[i]n any action on a contract,” where the contract provides for an award of attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party, regardless of whether the prevailing party is the party specified in the contract or not. But what about an action that alleges tort causes of action against an alter ego of a contracting party but that does not include a breach of contract claim against the alter ego? This was the question facing the California Court of Appeal in 347 Group, Inc. v. Philip Hawkins Architect, Inc. (2020) 58 Cal.App.5th 209.
In that case, the plaintiff 347 Group sued and obtained a default judgment for breach of contract against defendant Philip Hawkins Architect, Inc. Id. at 211–12. 347 Group had also sued Philip Hawkins individually as well as Design-Build, Inc., the company Hawkins founded after putting Philip Hawkins Architect, Inc. into bankruptcy. Id. at 212. 347 Group originally alleged claims for breach of contract, fraudulent conveyance, and conspiracy against Hawkins and Design-Build, seeking to establish that Hawkins and Design-Build were the alter egos of the contracting party, Philip Hawkins Architect, Inc., but later dismissed the breach of contract claim. Id. Hawkins and Design-Build eventually prevailed on the tort causes of action, and moved for attorneys’ fees. Id. Read the court decisionRead the full story...
Reprinted courtesy of Tony Carucci, Snell & Wilmer
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From Singapore to Rio Green Buildings Keep Tropical Tenants Cool
June 07, 2021 — Andrew Janes & Shawna Kwan - Bloomberg
On a typically hot and humid afternoon in Singapore, a fresh breeze blows beneath the canopy of the South Beach development, keeping temperatures several degrees cooler than on the surrounding streets.
The rippling 280-meter (919 feet) wave of steel-and-aluminum runs the length of the Norman Foster-designed complex, funneling prevailing winds over outdoor patrons of restaurants and bars and saving on air conditioning for the mixed-use complex. The canopy is covered with solar panels and catches rainwater to irrigate the gardens.
Offices and apartment blocks designed to be green are springing up all over the world as architects reverse almost a century of trying to insulate workers from nature and instead try to adapt structures to their natural surroundings. The change is being driven by stricter building codes, a desire to cut energy costs and, in particular, demands from corporations and startups that need to show shareholders and customers they are meeting environmental standards.
Reprinted courtesy of Andrew Janes, Bloomberg
and Shawna Kwan, Bloomberg Read the court decisionRead the full story...
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Cybersecurity “Flash” Warning for Construction and Manufacturing Businesses
April 05, 2021 — Jeffrey M. Dennis - Newmeyer Dillion
On March 23, 2021, the FBI’s Cyber Division issued a “Flash” warning for several business sectors, including industrial, commercial, manufacturing and construction businesses. The FBI is warning that a strain of ransomware, known as “Mamba,” has been used to weaponize a widely-used encryption software known as DiskCryptor. Mamba works through the open-source DiskCryptor program to encrypt a company’s operating system and demand ransom payment. This new ransomware attack is a threat to any business which employs DiskCryptor, specifically manufacturing and construction companies.
What Should I Do?
If your company utilizes DiskCryptor, the FBI suggests a number of recommendations to mitigate and ward off any ransomware attack. Most of these suggestions fall within the guidelines of proper cyber hygiene, and include (but are not limited to) the following:
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- Regularly back up data, as well as copies of data;
- Segment your network;
- Request administrator credentials to install software;
Reprinted courtesy of Jeffrey M. Dennis, Newmeyer Dillion
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Assessing Defective Design Liability on Federal Design-Build Projects
March 22, 2021 — Dirk Haire, Adam Hamilton & Dana Molinari - ConsensusDocs
A common misconception by many government officials is that a design-builder is always responsible for every design error or omission on a design-build project. This article examines the actual liability standard applied by the courts and boards of contract appeals when a design defect arises on a federal design-build project.
Background: Design-Build Contracts and the Spearin Doctrine
Design-build contracts combine the design and construction elements of a construction project into one contract. Design-build contracts often include two types of specifications: design and performance. Design specifications may set forth various parameters, such as precise measurements, tolerances, and materials. In doing so, the specifications create a fixed “roadmap” governing a contractor’s performance of the project. Performance specifications, on the other hand, set forth “operational characteristics” to achieve a particular objective or standard, but generally leave the details to the contractor.
Reprinted courtesy of Dirk Haire, Fox Rothschild LLP
, Adam Hamilton, Fox Rothschild LLP
and Dana Molinari, Fox Rothschild LLP
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Mr. Hamilton may be contacted at email@example.com
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New Jersey Supreme Court Upholds $400 Million Award for Superstorm Sandy Damages
February 22, 2021 — Kerianne E. Kane - Saxe Doernberger & Vita
In New Jersey Transit Corp. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London,1 New Jersey’s highest court upheld an appellate decision2 finding that New Jersey Transit Corporation (“NJT”) was entitled to full coverage under its property insurance policy for damages caused by Superstorm Sandy.
In July 2012, NJT secured a multi-layered “all risks” property insurance program from eleven insurers for the policy period of July 1, 2012, to July 1, 2013. The policies covered all perils and damage to NJT’s property unless specifically excluded. The primary layer, issued by Lexington Insurance Company, provided the first $50 million of coverage. The second layer provided coverage up to $100 million, the third layer provided an additional $175 million, and the fourth layer provided coverage of $125 million, for a total of $400 million in coverage.
The excess layer insurers included Certain Underwriters At Lloyd’s, London, Torus Specialty Insurance Company, and several other carriers. All participating insurers’ policies included a standard policy form and separate endorsements, some of which were included in all policies and some of which were unique to specific insurers. Read the court decisionRead the full story...
Reprinted courtesy of Kerianne E. Kane, Saxe Doernberger & Vita
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COVID-19 Pandemic Preference Amendments to Bankruptcy Code Benefiting Vendors, Customers, Commercial Landlords and Tenants
May 03, 2021 — Andrew Arthur & Steven Ostrow - White and Williams LLP
Over the last three months, Congress has passed major pieces of legislation primarily in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA), which was signed into law on December 27, 2020. In addition to funding the federal government and a second round of pandemic relief, the CAA contains several amendments to the Bankruptcy Code. One of the amendments provides preference protection to commercial landlords and suppliers who receive overdue payments from their tenants or customers under agreements made on or after March 13, 2020 to postpone the payment of rent or supplier charges.
The preference amendments encourage these creditors to afford their customers and tenants payment deferment arrangements without the risk that the companies will clawback the payments as preferences if they later file for bankruptcy protection. The amendments should facilitate workouts of distribution and leasing agreements to help distressed businesses recover and repay arrearages as COVID-19 related governmental restrictions are lifted this year.
Reprinted courtesy of Andrew Arthur, White and Williams LLP
and Steven Ostrow, White and Williams LLP
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China Bans Tallest Skyscrapers Following Safety Concerns
July 25, 2021 — Bloomberg News
China is prohibiting construction of the tallest skyscrapers to ensure safety following mounting concerns over the quality of some projects.
The outright ban covers buildings that are taller than 500 meters (1,640 feet), the National Development and Reform Commission said in a notice Tuesday. Local authorities will also need to strictly limit building of towers that are more than 250 meters tall.
The top economic planner cited quality problems and safety hazards in some developments stemming from loose oversight. A 72-story tower in Shenzhen was closed in May for checks following reports of unexplained wobbling, feeding concern about the stability of one of the technology hub’s tallest buildings.
Construction of buildings exceeding 100 meters should strictly match the scale of the city where they will be located, along with its fire rescue capability, the commission said.
“It’s primarily for safety,” said Qiao Shitong, an associate law professor at the University of Hong Kong who studies property and urban law. Extremely tall buildings “are more like signature projects for mayors and not necessarily efficient.” Read the court decisionRead the full story...
Reprinted courtesy of Bloomberg
Touchdown! – The Construction Industry’s Winning Audible to the COVID Blitz
February 08, 2021 — Bill Shaughnessy, Jones Walker, LLP - ConsensusDocs
COVID-19 has changed the way we live, work, play football, and build. As with all of society (and our football leagues and teams), the construction industry was impacted over the last year through the implementation of new safety protocols in response to COVID-19. While some construction projects were delayed or put on hold, much of the construction industry was fortunate to continue to build throughout the pandemic. Building under COVID-19 safety protocols led contractors to “call an audible” in order to make up for lost time and to save costs. In doing so, many contractors started incorporating or expanding the use of under-utilized tools, resources, capabilities, and technology such as pre-fabrication, and modular construction, while at the same time reexamining planning methods, monitoring critical schedule activities, and ways to better execute construction.
In many ways, the effects of COVID-19 safety protocols and measures implemented by contractors in the past year have led to more efficient and cheaper construction projects now and for the future. So, it is not surprising as we turn our calendars to 2021 that contractors can expect these tools, resources, and technologies to be utilized more in the years ahead, even once the pandemic subsides. This article highlights some of the “positive” effects of COVID-19 on projects and highlights several ways contractors attempted to increase efficiency and reduce costs in response to the pandemic. Read the court decisionRead the full story...
Reprinted courtesy of Bill Shaughnessy, Jones Walker, LLP
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