Legal Analysts

Showing posts with label construction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label construction. Show all posts

Friday, March 25, 2022

Construction Workers' Wage & Hour Claims are about to Blow-Up

On March 18, 2022, a new NYS law provides that a General Contractor will now have 10 business days from receipt of notice of unpaid wages by a subcontractor's employee to pay such subcontractor's employee earned wages, benefits, and/or wage supplements earned, or such General Contractors can be sued for the wages for the previous 3 years. 

General Contractors must implement hour tracking for their subcontractors' employees immediately because they are liable for time and a half for overtime. 

Plus, General Contractors should act swiftly if they receive the new statutory 10 business day notice because if the subcontractors' employee sues, they will be liable for statutory penalties (liquidated damages) plus attorneys' fees in a court case.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

New Law All NY Contractors with Government Contracts Should Know About To Get Paid Faster

Public work projects involving New York State entities are lengthy, extensive, chaotic, and often result in a variety of disputes based on timeframe, requisition for payments, and when payments are due.

Consequently, NY amended a previous law that changes the definition of how contractors get paid to make it an easier and quicker process. 

Substantial completion is now defined as the completion of "work or major portions thereof as contemplated by the terms of the contract.

Based on this new definition, it's time for contractors to revise the terms of the government contracts with this new language. 

For reference, the new NYS law amends State Finance Law §139-f and General Municipal Law §106-b, which require contractors working on a public work project to submit requisitions for payment of completed work that is "substantially completed" to a public owner. The amendments clarify the meaning of  "substantial completion" in public work projects.  

Previously, Senate Bills S.7664 and and A.9117 amended section 139-f of the state finance law to define "substantially completed" work on a public work project as "the state in the progress of a project when the work required by the contract" is completed. 

The new law supersedes both Senate Bills S.7664 and A.9117 with its new definition of "substantial completion.

Based on this narrow and concise definition of "substantial completion,", this amendment will undoubtedly create far less chaos, confusion, and turmoil during the course of an ongoing public works project. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Construction Question - Can you get around zoning restrictions by claiming free speech?

In Burns v. Town of Palm Beach, the 11th Circuit said free speech does not let you build a mansion when zoning prohibits it.

This case is a true Palm Beach tale. 

Donald Burns sought to knock down his "traditional" beachfront mansion and build an entirely new one, double the size, in a mid-century modern style. 

Get that - mansion #1 wasn't big enough so he needed mansion #2. 

In order to build his new mansion, Burns had to obtain approval from the Town of Palm Beach's architectural review commission. 

However, the commission denied Burns' building permit and found that his new mansion was not in harmony with the proposed developments in land in the general area and was excessively dissimilar to other homes within 200 feet in terms of architecture, size, and mass. 

This prompted Burns to take the dispute to federal court where Burns sued the town, claiming that the denial of his building permit was a violation of his First Amendment free speech rights and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection. 

Our hats are off to Burns' attorneys for this creative argument (lawyers that think outside the box are the best client advocates). Yet, Burns lost. 

The 11th Circuit found that architectural design was not protected by the First Amendment because "there was no great likelihood that some sort of message would be understood by those who viewed Burns's new beachfront mansion." 

In the majority opinion, Judge Robert Luck stated that "one day, we may even find some residential architecture to be expressive conduct. . .but Burns' new mansion is not Monticello or Versailles. . ." 

Do you agree?

Should artistic expression override zoning laws?

Friday, February 19, 2021

New Law Alert - Registry of Construction Work-Related Fatal Injuries to be Established - Ambulance Chasers Take Notice

The NYS Department of Labor is being required by a new law to establish an online database by April 22, 2021 to make available all information and data regarding all workplace fatalities in the construction industry.

Originally, this law stupidly applied to employees rather than workers and contractors, which is the standard for workers in the industry. Now, this has been fixed by new law

If you are a GC (general contractor) and you don't think that the ambulance chasers have already planned to favorite this website, you have another thing coming. It's time to button-up those safety protocols, meetings, and compliance checks. 

What are you doing to protect yourself from suit?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

New Law Alert - Contractors Now Exposed for Alterations in Contravention of Building Code

Attention Contractors: If you help your client violate the uniform fire prevention and building code and that violation empedes a person's egress from such building during an emergency evacuation (think fire), then, you can be fined up to $7,500 under new law

This law applies to contractors, architects, subcontractors, construction superintendents, and agents.

Is this fair? Should a contractor have to tell their client no when the client wants something that violates the building code? Are contractors now code enforcement agents?

Monday, February 08, 2021

Construction GCs Should Videotape Their Worksites to Avoid Lawsuits

Typically, when a construction worker gets injured on the job from an elevated fall, it's a slam dunk case against the GC. 

In fact, Labor Law § 240(1) imposes strict or absolute liability on general contractors, owners, and their agents regardless if the injured worker is partially at fault for falls at construction sites. 

The only real defense for the GC is that the injured worker was the sole proximate cause of the accident (called the, "recalcitrant worker" defense). But, how do you prove sole cause when everyone claims different facts? 

We just learned the answer in an appellate division case, Cordova v 653 Eleventh Ave. LLC.

The case was dismissed because "Surveillance footage of plaintiff falling from the ladder demonstrates that" it was solely the injured worker's fault. The ladder didn't move or shake, it was connected to the sidewalk bridge and scaffolding above and tied to the scaffold too. 

Moving forward, GCs should video your construction sites. It can save you a fortune. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

New Laws for Building Owners on Alterations Impeding Emergency Egress and Disposal of Construction and Demolition Waste

On December 15, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed Senate Bill 1714 into law which effectively amends Section 382 of the Executive Law. Effective immediately, the new law imposes a civil penalty of up to $7,500 on building owners who make alterations to their buildings which violate the uniform fire prevention and building code and which block access to an egress during a fire or other emergency. The penalty is imposed on building owners who have or should have had knowledge of such impediment.

Building owners must ensure compliance with the uniform fire prevention and building code or risk exposure to not only the civil penalty imposed by the new law, but also to liability for any other damages and injuries which could have been avoided if the building was up to code.

Moreover, building owners should also be aware of the new law which criminalizes the improper disposal of construction and demolition waste. Effective December 15, 2020, any person who knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally disposes of construction and demolition waste and/or hazardous substances may be convicted of a crime with fines of up to $300,000 for a class C felony, be ordered to restore the property where the wastes were released to its original state and pay for costs for the disposal and restoration of the property, twice the amount of any gain from the crime, and be subjected to any other sentence authorized by law, including imprisonment.

Friday, March 27, 2020

No More Construction - Essential Service Guidance Updated

On March 27, 2020 at 11AM, Empire State Development refined the definition of essential businesses or entities in NYS as to construction, as follows:
All non-essential construction must shut down except emergency construction, (e.g. a project necessary to protect health and safety of the occupants, or to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow to remain undone until it is safe to shut the site). 
Essential construction may continue and includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters. At every site, if essential or emergency non-essential construction, this includes maintaining social distance, including for purposes of elevators/meals/entry and exit. Sites that cannot maintain distance and safety best practices must close and enforcement will be provided by the state in coordination with the city/local governments. This will include fines of up to $10,000 per violation. 
For purposes of this section construction work does not include a single worker, who is the sole employee/worker on a job site.
Be warned.