Construction Law & Litigation
Schatt Hesser McGraw prides itself on providing personal legal services customized to suit the needs of our clients. Our initial conversation with our clients is always centered around the goals and motivations that are driving our clients to take the proposed action. Only once these issues are understood can we customize our legal services to address our clients’ personal issue.
Florida Construction Law
Services provided to our clients include:
- Lien law
- Bond claims and disputes
- Contract drafting, preparation and review
- Defective work
- Delay claims
Our Construction Law section assists developers, construction contractors, subcontractors and material suppliers in Lien law, bond claims and disputes, contract preparation and review, defective work claims, non-payment, delay claims, etc. Our construction lawyers have assisted clients in all sizes and forms of projects including the construction of single family homes, the rehabilitation of military barracks, the redevelopment of warehouse space into commercial and retail condominiums.
Our experience in this area of law often allows us to identify potential paths to resolution of disagreements before the matter becomes contentious thereby avoiding extensive litigation. In this manner we are able to save our clients both time and money over the long term.
Construction Litigation & Contract Negotiation
There are times when litigation simply cannot be avoided. In these instances, Schatt Hesser McGraw will be fully prepared to defend our clients’ interests. We have extensive experience in construction litigation involving foreclosure of liens, bond claims, contract disputes, pay-when-paid provisions, common law liens, etc. Our litigation attorneys are admitted to practice in all state Courts in Florida, all Federal District Courts in Florida, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.
According to Frank Lloyd Wright, the physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his clients to plant vines. While true to an extent, both will face claims for having made the mistake. There are numerous ways in modern construction contracting to share the risk of such mistakes. It is imperative that you understand these provisions to eliminate the possibility that you will be held responsible for a mistake not of your making.
If you have questions about Construction Law, get answers to frequently asked questions from our construction law attorneys.
Service of Notice to Owner Under Florida’s Construction Lien Law
Florida Statute §713.06(2)(a) requires “lienors” who are not in contractual privity with the owner to “serve a Notice to Owner” as a prerequisite to perfecting a lien. The notice must be served before commencing, or not later than 45 days after commencing, to furnish his or her labor, services, or materials. The Florida Supreme Court has determined that “a subcontractor begins to furnish services or materials for the purpose of giving notice to the owner under section 713.06(2)(a) when the services or materials are delivered to the job site” pursuant to a valid contract.
In addition, the Notice must be served in compliance with Florida Statute §713.18. Compliance with Florida Statute §713.18 must be made by “common carrier delivery service or by registered, Global Express Guaranteed, or certified mail, with postage or shipping paid by the sender and with evidence of delivery, which may be in an electronic format.”
However, it must be noted that if registered or certified mail is utilized for service, in order to assure that notice is considered timely given regardless of when it is actually delivered, the notice must be “mailed by registered or certified mail with postage prepaid … within 40 days after the date the lienor first furnishes labor, services, or materials. If mailed within 40 days, service of that notice is effective as of the date of mailing if the person who served the notice maintains a registered or certified mail log that shows the registered or certified mail number issued by the United States Postal Service, the name and address of the person served, and the date stamp of the United States Postal Service confirming the date of mailing or if the person who served the notice maintains electronic tracking records generated through use of the United States Postal Service Confirm service or a similar service containing the postal tracking number, the name and address of the person served, and verification of the date of receipt by the United States Postal Service.
Florida Statute §713.31 provides in relevant part:
(2)(a) Any lien asserted under this part in which the lienor has willfully exaggerated the amount for which such lien is claimed or in which the lienor has willfully included a claim for work not performed upon or materials not furnished for the property upon which he or she seeks to impress such lien or in which the lienor has compiled his or her claim with such willful and gross negligence as to amount to a willful exaggeration shall be deemed a fraudulent lien.
(b) It is a complete defense to any action to enforce a lien under this part, or against any lien in any action in which the validity of the lien is an issue, that the lien is a fraudulent lien; and the court so finding is empowered to and shall declare the lien unenforceable, and the lienor thereupon forfeits his or her right to any lien on the property upon which he or she sought to impress such fraudulent lien. However, a minor mistake or error in a claim of lien, or a good faith dispute as to the amount due does not constitute a willful exaggeration that operates to defeat an otherwise valid lien.
An amount claimed as a mechanics’ lien and the amount finally allowed by the trial judge does not alone determine the lien to be fraudulent as a matter of law because the trial judge still has discretion to determine the intent and good or bad faith of the lienor. The seeking of advice of counsel, prior to the preparation and filing of the lien is evidence relevant to that inquiry.
Our experience has confirmed the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. As a result, we encourage our existing clients to maintain open communication with us to ensure that their interests are well protected and we encourage prospective clients to contact us as soon as they identify a potential legal dispute.
Contact a Qualified Construction Attorney in Ocala, FL
Schatt Hesser McGraw routinely represents clients in contract negotiation, arbitration, mediation and litigation over claims involving payment disputes, performance disputes, changed conditions, delays, changes in the work, unforeseen conditions, and all types of related matters.