Construction Liens and the Importance of Timing

The purchase of a condominium, home or commercial property can be one of life’s most significant and expensive purchases, regardless of whether it is a primary residence, vacation home or an investment property. Condominium owners and home owners, and the board members who volunteer their time to represent them, most often have the same goal — to live in a safe, clean and defect free community. Unfortunately, this happens somewhat infrequently, especially in South Florida where high rise construction is completed in short time frames to take advantage of the real estate cycles. The attorneys at Haber Law work diligently to protect condominium and homeowners’ associations who receive their homes or condominiums from the developer and general contractor which are replete with construction and/or design defects that negatively impact the value and safety of the homes and condominiums that the owners have just purchased. Similarly, in the situation where clients purchase commercial property and have construction problems, our attorneys are able to step in and assist in construction contract drafting, lien litigation, construction defect litigation, and hurricane and storm damage claims relating to the cost to repair. We represent landlords and tenants with respect to tenant improvement buildouts and the problems associated with that process. We also represent contractors in some instances where they were not paid, and we have also represented developers against contractors when the work is defective and the contractor has breached the construction contract and the building codes.

In the past decade, Haber Law has become one of the preeminent high rise and garden style condominium and homeowner association construction litigation boutique law firms in South Florida. We have filed multi-million lawsuits for numerous luxury high rise waterfront condominiums, as well as the largest lawsuit in Palm Beach County history in terms of number of defendants and counsel. Haber Law has successfully resolved many of these construction and design defects claims, providing either money or work totaling in the millions of dollars on numerous occasions.

For example, in 2013, Haber Law represented a general contractor who had not been paid by the developer in a warehouse condominium development. The general contractor filed a claim of lien, and the lien foreclosure case went to court and was abated pending the construction arbitration which was required pursuant to the construction contract. The developer filed a $1 Million plus counterclaim in response to the general contractor’s claim that it was owed approximately $430,000.00. We were able to assist our client in defeating the entirety of the counterclaim at arbitration and at the same time, the general contractor was awarded approximately 90% of what it was owed. The developer then appealed the case to the trial court and the appellate court, and Haber Law prevailed in all court proceedings.

In the San Matera case, Haber Law was involved in a five (5+) plus year litigation involving defective construction and design of 30 townhouse style multi-story condominium buildings containing units built by Palm Beach County home building giant Kolter. In addition to settlements pre-trial worth over $3.6 Million in cash, product and services, Haber Law successfully obtained a $22.5 Million settlement from Kolter as developer and general contractor, along with more than 15 subcontractors, architect and engineers during the third day of trial. The case, which involved water intrusion and roof, stucco, window, sliding glass door defects, at one time had 34 defendants and over 50 law firms representing those defendants. At the time of trial, the case had 18 defendants, and was so large that the Palm Beach County court system had to build a special courtroom at the South Courthouse in Delray Beach, Florida to handle the trial. Additionally, the court system had to call upon a special oversized jury pool of over 300 citizens in an attempt to seat a jury. There were 40 insurance carriers involved in the settlement on behalf of the 18 defendants which remained at the time of trial. In what can only be described as a David versus Goliath case, David B. Haber and the trial team at Haber Law persevered and ultimately obtained an excellent result for the client.

Haber Law was also successful as co-lead counsel in representing Continuum on South Beach in obtaining a settlement of over $9.3 Million for defective construction and design, involving defective installation of stucco throughout the high rise tower.

Haber Law is currently litigating multiple high rise construction and design defect cases for condominiums, including for the 50 story Vizcayne North Condominium in downtown Miami, and the Story Peninsula II Condominium in Aventura, Florida.

Haber Law provides condominium and homeowners’ association with zealous representation in condominium defect litigation from Complaint through trial. Whatever the problem, Haber Law likely knows and has worked with the right expert in order to provide persuasive testimony in the form of an expert report, at deposition and, if necessary, at trial, in order to ensure that your position is capably presented in settlement meetings, mediation and in court proceedings. Haber Law has represented some of South Florida’s largest and most well-known associations, following turnover, in prosecuting construction defect cases often netting millions of dollars in settlement funds which can be used to take remedial action and correct chronic problems caused by sloppy workmanship.

Construction defect litigation can be time consuming and complex, often involving multiple parties, the numerous insurance policies which may cover these claims and short filing deadlines. Sorting out the responsible parties, the proper insurance coverages, and the applicable deadlines in order to ensure maximum recovery is the job of trained professional construction litigators such as those at Haber Law. At Haber Law, we have that experience and a track record of results in these large complex multi-party construction cases.