When it comes to negligence and defective construction claims against a contractor in Florida, the plaintiff has the burden of proof on its claim. This includes having sworn expert testimony and analysis with which to support their claim. The defendant, on the other hand has the burden to prove it’s defenses against claims of negligence or construction defects. Below we list three of the more common defenses against such claims in the construction industry.
If you are a contractor and have been accused of negligence or defective construction, we highly recommend contacting an experienced construction attorney in St. Petersburg. Regardless of how small or significant the claim may be, having the right representation is critical to the success of your case.
The Economic Loss Doctrine
The Economic Loss Doctrine was established to prohibit specific tort actions when they are based solely on economic losses. Historically, this doctrine has acted as a legal shield to defendants who have been accused of negligence and/or defective construction. Under this doctrine, the plaintiff must plead something in addition to a purely economic loss for their claim to stand. However, in recent years, the Florida Supreme Court has found this doctrine to apply strictly to product liability, which may have a significant impact on its future application.
The Slavin Doctrine
The Slavin Doctrine, also commonly known as the “open and obvious rule” is a rule which states that contractors cannot be held liable for injury to third parties after work has been performed and accepted by the owner. One particular exception to this defense is that the alleged condition or defect must be discoverable by reasonable inspection and rectifiable by feasible means for the contractor to avoid liability. If the alleged condition or defect is latent and irremediable, the contractor may be found liable for injury and/or damages.
The Spearin Doctrine
The Spearin Doctrine states that a contractor cannot be held liable for injury, loss or damages resulting solely from insufficiencies or defects in information, plans, design or specifications that have been supplied by the plaintiff or representative thereof. The Spearin Doctrine establishes that the owner impliedly warrants the information, plans, designs, or specifications provided to the contractor commissioned to carry out project, thereby releasing the contractor of liability for the consequences of the defect.
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.