Protections Provided to New York Architects and Contractors under the Economic Loss Rule

THE ECONOMIC LOSS RULE IN NEW YORK CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS:

WHAT IT IS AND HOW IT MAY BENEFIT CONTRACTORS AND ARCHITECTS

The “economic loss rule” is a rule that New York courts use to prevent a plaintiff from recovering against a defendant for a tort (usually negligence), when the essence of the plaintiff’s claim is for failure to live up to the terms of a contract.

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New York Construction Delays, All Things Being Equal, They’re Not

Everyone knows that time is money, and in particular this is true with New York construction contracts. It is also well known that delays are often part of the construction reality, along with change orders and extras. Delays impact owners, contractors and subcontractors.

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NY Supreme Court Strikes Contractor Liability Limitation Provision

Many contractors and subcontractors go about their work feeling protected from claims for damages because their agreements contain certain exclusions. Some of these agreements will even have language stating ‘Not responsible for [X, Y, and Z]’. But the ruling handed down February 14, 2012, by the Supreme Court, Nassau County serves as a reminder that contractual indemnity provisions are more of a privilege than a right, and are not subject to enforcement automatically.

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The Top 5 Avenues of Architect Liability in New York

Architects in New York can be found liable for damages in various situations, depending on who claims damage, and the basis of the claim itself. For example, where an owner has a direct contract with the architect, the owner could bring forth a simple claim based on the contract or a claim based on a tort action. Such a tort action, based on negligence, is a claim for malpractice.

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Essential Provisions for Subcontractor Agreements

When it comes to subcontractor agreements, there are numerous types of agreements that might be used and the fine print in these agreements can be crucial. Some documents, such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 401 and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Form 640 serve as standard forms of agreement.

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Changes vs. Cardinal Changes: The Limit of Construction Contract Changes


Changes are an unavoidable aspect of construction. Although thorough effort and coordination are required in preparing the original project contract, specifications and construction drawings, there will still be changes. This is why owners are provided the right to make changes to the work under a typical contract changes clause.

However, the ability for owner requested changes, even if provided in the contract, are not without limitations, restrictions, and consequences. After all, what purpose would any of the project documents, contracts and drawings serve if they were subject to constant change? What good would the contract serve if the owner could make any change(s) without consequence?

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Punitive Damages Claims in New York Construction Contract Disputes

One topic that came up in my practice recently was a contractor’s potential exposure to liability for punitive damages under New York law. As the name suggests, punitive damages are awarded above and beyond their contract or property damages, ‘where the wrong done was aggravated by circumstances of violence, oppression, malice, fraud, … on the part of the defendant, and are intended to address the plaintiff’s mental anguish or other aggravation, to punish the defendant for its behavior.’ Black’s Law Dictionary 390 (6th Ed. 1991).

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Construction Contract Drafting Considerations

To minimize potential legal problems when planning construction, whether the project is a large commercial project, a new residence, or even a renovation to an existing structure, care must be taken to have essential terms included in the contract.

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Appellate Court Upholds Contractor Indemnification

Indemnification is an important legal concept which impacts nearly all construction contracts. It has several forms and types, but generally amounts to a contract requirement where one party party agrees to restore the other party from any losses. Where an anticipated loss should occur, the damaged party can expect reimbursement for the loss.

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Construction Contract Document Conflict

Given the large number and variety of documents required to administer a construction project today (plans, specifications, contracts, etc.), the likelihood of discrepancies arising between these different sources is almost unavoidable.

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