Construction Defects and Related Insurance Coverage
Following a massive renovation of a luxury hotel in downtown Chicago, the owner sought to recover $2.5 million dollars to repair alleged defects in over 200 tile showers and the underlying liquid shower pan membranes. Representing the primary subcontractor, I worked with our client, its insurers, and the other parties to successfully resolve the lawsuit. Through fact discovery, we developed traditional defenses to liability, including defenses based on the statute of limitations and the Spearin doctrine. I then worked closely with my client and our experts to conduct a forensic investigation into the as built conditions of the showers to identify other potential causes of damage. I also used expert testimony to attack the plaintiff’s use of biased sampling techniques to extrapolate individual defects to calculate repair quantities.
More recently, I represented a masonry subcontractor facing claims of over $9 million to repair alleged defects in balcony columns, masonry facades and parapet walls of multiple condominium buildings. With my client and its insurers, I worked with multiple experts to develop defenses based on design errors, to challenge conclusions by the Plaintiff’s experts on causation, and to attack the scope and quantity of repairs.
Before the parties engaged in extensive litigation and destructive testing, I worked with other defendants and insurers to successfully resolve claims against a mason and other subcontractors for alleged defects in the building envelope of a high-rise condominium building.
Each of the above lawsuits resulted in multiple complaints filed by insurers for the subcontractor seeking to avoid the indemnity and their duty to defend the subcontractors against the underlying complaints. My knowledge of the underlying cases allowed me to obtain settlement contributions from multiple insurers in each case. I also successfully opposed summary judgement by one insurer and obtained summary judgment against another insurer on the insurer’s duty to pay for the defense of the subcontractors. In one case, I was able to locate GAP insurance policies and work with the insurer to negotiate direct coverage for defective work.
My knowledge and understanding of construction projects and underlying insurance issues allows me to work successfully on behalf of subcontractors and their insurers to successfully litigate or resolve claims for defective work.
Mechanics Liens, Breach of Contract, and Other Litigation
In 2016, I obtained summary judgment against a contractor for filing a fraudulent mechanics lien against residential homeowners and obtained an award of attorney’s fees under Section 17 of the Illinois Mechanics Lien Act. The ruling was affirmed on appeal. Father & Sons Home Improvement II, Inc. v. Stuart, 2016 IL App (1st) 143666.
I recently helped a general contractor recover unpaid amounts in a dispute arising out of a design-build addition and renovation of commercial property. The project involved work performed pursuant to a cost-plus fee agreement with a guaranteed maximum price and an arbitration clause. We filed the arbitration demand and the owner asserted a counterclaim for defective work in excess of $200,000 and challenged the contractor’s right to recover increased general conditions as the result of increased scope of work. Prior to the arbitration hearing, the amount of the counterclaim dropped by over $100,000. The matter settled on the first day of arbitration.
I represented multiple contractors in foreclosing on mechanics liens against a private building arising out of a multi-million-dollar tenant buildout. Working with the general contractor, my clients obtained payment in full from the building owner for the subcontractors.
I successfully represented a property owner against mechanics lien claim and breach of contract claim by a contractor responsible for installing a new roof on a commercial property. Working with my client and an expert, we resolved the matter without any further payments and obtained a release of lien.
Representing an owner and developer of commercial real estate, I resolved multiple mechanics liens filed by subcontractors when the general contractor became insolvent. Specifically, I obtained dismissal with prejudice of a subcontractor’s lien for $242,000 and negotiated favorable settlement of a lien recorded by an undisclosed subcontractor.
On the same project, I negotiated dismissal of a supplier’s claim for $137,000 in equitable relief and recovered payment of my fees and costs through settlement.
On behalf of a residential real estate seller, I successfully negotiated a settlement with the buyer over a six-figure earnest money deposit after buyer failed to close on a real estate sales contract.
I have successfully worked with owners, general contractors and subcontractors to resolve a number of other claims involving construction projects and mechanics liens.
I have also successfully represented clients in a number of other disputes, ranging from evictions to personal injury claims to breach of contract claims.