Trent Cotney and his team of expert Sarasota contractor lawyers focus on all areas of construction law, including OSHA defense, Florida’s Construction Lien Law, bid protests, contract review and drafting, and construction litigation and arbitration. While each of these areas play a tremendous role in successful construction operations, arbitration and litigation can be one of the most stressful and sometimes unavoidable parts of working in the construction business. Whether resulting from a contractual dispute, a lawsuit following property damage or the injury of an employee, a contractor lawyer in Sarasota at Cotney Construction Law can guide you through the appropriate steps for a successful outcome.
Construction arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution. Your Sarasota contractor lawyer will present your case in front of an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators, who will evaluate the evidence and determine the outcome of the case. It is quite common for an arbitrator’s clause to be included within a construction contract. Often in the clause, precise details on how the hearing will be concluded are outlined, including how arbitrators will be selected and whether rulings will be non-binding or binding, most commonly the latter.
Stage 1: Appointment of Arbitrators
Each arbitration panel will consist of one to three arbitrators. Generally, the claimant and defense will each choose one arbitrator. Then, the two appointed arbitrators will choose the third individual, who will often serve as the chief arbitrator.
Another method involves partnering with an arbitration association, who will either appoint an arbitrator or arbitrators to the case or use a ranking method, where each side will rank their top choices. Based on the rankings, an arbitrator will be assigned by the association.
Stage 2: Presentation of Evidence
At the hearing, the claimant’s legal representation will work to defend their client’s claim against the other party and the defendant’s side is responsible for providing proof that invalidates this claim. Each side is able to present witness testimony and documented evidence. Similar to litigation, each side must supply the opposing party with a list of witnesses and copies of documentation.
Stage 3: Final Disposition by Arbitrators
After all evidence is presented and each side delivers a closing argument, the panel will deliberate and the chief arbitrator is then responsible for the final ruling. In determining a ruling, arbitrators are not required to use state and federal law, but instead decide an outcome based on their understanding of the case facts. It is then required for the ruling to be presented in writing to each of the parties.
Construction litigation can be an extensive process and should only be entered into with a knowledgeable contractor lawyer in Sarasota, who understands the construction industry and the relationship between owners, contractors, and sub-contractors during a project.
Stage 1: Pleading
During the pleading stage the plaintiff will file their complaint against the opposing party. The defendant may contest the charges by filing a “Motion to Dismiss” in an attempt to have the case thrown out. At this point, the defense may also file counter claims to recover damages. Based on the merit of the complaint, the judge will determine whether the case should move forward with a civil trial.
Stage 2: Presentation of Evidence
When presenting their case, each side will attempt to provide evidentiary proof that strengthens their side of the argument or refutes the claims of the opposing party. The court proceedings will begin with opening statements, the presentation of evidence and witness statements, and will conclude with closing arguments.
Stage 3: Final Disposition by The Judge
After each side of the lawsuit rests, the judge will consider the evidence presented and based on state and federal laws will determine if the defendant is liable for the claimant’s damages. If so, the judge’s verdict will include the the monetary award the claimant will receive. If either side disagrees with the decision handed down, they may appeal the ruling and present their case to a higher court.
Trent Cotney is a nationally recognized contractor lawyer in Sarasota.He and his legal team have significant experience in both construction arbitration and litigation.
To speak with a qualified Sarasota contractor lawyer from Cotney Construction Law, please contact our office at 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.