Litigation

The Spearin Doctrine: What You Need to Know

The Spearin Doctrine is a defense that is available for contractors to use against breach of contract claims relating to the defective workmanship of a project. At Trent Cotney, P.A., our construction litigation attorneys in St. Petersburg, FL are familiar with the Spearin Doctrine and how it applies to contractual disputes.

In more recent years, courts have come to establish a clear distinction the contractor must prove to use the Spearin Doctrine as a defense. The defensive use of the Spearin Doctrine now relies on if the project was a design or a performance specification.

Design Specifications

The design specifications are considered the “how to” of a contractor’s obligations to an owner. These are very detailed instructions that inform the contractor of what should be built and how to build it. Design specifications describe to the contractor the types of materials allowed and the manner in which the building should be done. The owner’s plans are given to the contractor and the contractor is expected not to deviate from those designs.

Implied Warranty

In these cases, the owner is giving the contractor an implied warranty, meaning that the information in the designs is sufficient and adequate enough for the contractor to complete the job appropriately. When giving design specifications, an owner is basically ensuring the contractor that the plans, when completed as instructed, will not produce inadequate work. The Spearin Doctrine hinges on the contractor being able to prove that the design specifications given by the owner were faulty and that he either was not allowed to change them due to stipulations in the contract or he did not know the designs would be faulty.

Performance Specifications

The performance specifications are considered the “what” of a contractor’s obligations to an owner. These are less detailed instructions that inform the contractor solely of what should be built. Performance specifications allow a contractor to develop a building plan using materials and procedures the contractor finds appropriate for the task. The owner’s plans are given to the contractor and the contractor is allowed to execute them in any manner they find suitable.

Any breach of contract claim is a serious matter and a contractor may be held liable. Defective workmanship that is the result of the owner’s incorrect designs is not a result of the contractor. The St. Petersburg construction litigation attorneys of Trent Cotney, P.A. are experienced with defective workmanship claims and know how to assist a contractor facing these allegations.

To schedule an appointment with a construction litigation attorney in St. Petersburg, please call 813.579.3278, or submit our contact request form.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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