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Philadelphia Construction Law Blog

Kaplin Stewart Construction Law To Offer Spring Seminar Series

Posted by:  Josh Quinter (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

The Kaplin Stewart Construction Law Department is excited to announce its newest program offering. Starting in January, our attorneys will present our Spring Seminar Series to help our clients and friends prepare for the upcoming busy season. Designed to provide invaluable information to help construction firms plan their new projects, the programs will be approximately an hour long and held at Kaplin Stewart's main offices in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. The program list is as follows:

Payment Claims and the 5 Key Construction Contract Clauses

Shifting Liability through Insurance and Indemnity Clauses

Change Order Clauses and Claims

Surety Bonds and Insurance Coverage Issues

More information on the dates and times for each program will be available soon. Stay tuned for more information.

Is a State Wide Plumbing Licensure Structure On Its Way In Pennsylvania?

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

Pennsylvania House Bill 1357 is presently before the Professional Licensure Committee in the House of Representatives. The legislation, which is scheduled for a committee hearing next month, would impose a state wide licensure system on the plumbing trades in Pennsylvania if passed.

As a general matter, the aim of the bill is to create a standardized set of criteria for performing plumbing work throughout the Commonwealth. Proponents of the legislation maintain it will ensure that plumbers know what they are doing and provide assurances to consumers that the plumbers they hire are properly trained and will perform the work safely. Many also support the bill because it potentially creates an opportunity to establish reciprocity with other states on the issue. This should, in theory, make it easier to work in neighboring states who have licensing requirements.

Leaking Pipe.jpgThe bill is not without its problems or detractors either though. Large cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Allentown have often enjoyed some independence from certain state wide requirements imposed on the construction industry. In some instances they can have a separate set of rules; but in many instances, these large municipalities can impose more strict rules over and above those created on a state wide level. This bill lacks clarity on how these "exceptions" might apply in this case if at all. Opponents of the current legislation also maintain that if there are exceptions it will deprive the bill of one of its major goals of creating one standard for everyone. This could be particularly problematic in the area of fees charged for licenses.


Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

Although regular risk assessments and re-evaluations of insurance coverage are generally a good idea, it's not uncommon for construction companies to take the approach of renewing their existing insurance policy when it comes up for renewal. Some policies - particularly specialty policies - have renewal clauses in them that sophisticated companies should be aware of when renewing their insurance though. A recent decision by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia sheds some light on this issue.

Insurance Policy.jpgIn Indian Harbor Insurance Co. v. F&M Equipment Company, the Court held that a policy provision stating that the policy would be renewed upon its expiration required that the insurance carrier offer the insured substantially the same policy as the one about to expire. To do otherwise, according to the Court, would violate the intent of the parties in agreeing to the renewal clause.

In Indian Harbor, the insurance company issued a policy providing for $10 million in pollution and remediation coverage over a 10 year term. The policy covered 12 different sites, including locations that a predecessor company to F&M was required to remediate. The coverage limits of the policy were subsequently increased to $14 million in exchange for additional premium. When Indian Harbor made its offer to renew, it reduced the coverage to $5 million and the term to one year. The only site for which a claim was made on the previous policy was also excluded from coverage.

Tips On Getting Paid For Your Construction Work

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

There is at least one universal truth in businesses of all kinds: no one likes to work for free. The risk of non-payment in the construction industry can be greater than in others because of the significant financial outlay that is required just to perform the work. Reimbursement for labor and material costs are required just to avoid losing money (not profit) on a job. And we all know what happens to companies that don't at least break even most of the time.

Change Order.pngOne way to control the risk of non-payment is through the contract. There are a number of clauses - some obvious, others not as obvious - to review carefully with regard to payment issues. Here are a few to consider:

(1) The Payment Clause - Does it contain contingent payment language? If it does, is it "pay-if-paid" or "pay-when-paid"? It's also important to be sure how soon after invoice you will be paid. These time frames can vary depending on the project and need to be matched up with when you are expected to pay subcontractors and suppliers.

(2) The Change Order Clause - What is the process for obtaining a change order? Can the party with whom I am entering the contract direct changes in scope to be done without an executed change order? Inquiring with the other party about financing to be sure they have sufficient funds to cover change order work is a good idea too.

Did you know?

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

Did you know that the Liebherr LTM 11200-9.1 telescopic crane (pictured below) is one of the biggest pieces of construction equipment in the world? With a lifting capacity of up to 1,200 tons, a boom of 126 meters, and a reach of 126 meters more, it gets from place to place on a nine-axle suspension system.

World's Biggest Crane.jpg

Consider using this for those "hard to reach places".

Karin Corbett: The Rest of the Story

Karin Corbett.jpgKarin Corbett is an Associate in our Construction Law Department. Her experience includes litigating various types of construction disputes, negotiating contracts and providing general advice to business owners.

It is pretty well known that, away from the practice of law, Karin is an avid and life-long equestrian. She used the power of her natural born persuasive skills at just seven years old to convince her (very hesitant) parents to sign her up for weekly riding lessons. Never looking back, Karin soon owned her own horses and competed with them in both local and United States Equestrian Federation recognized horseshows.

When the time came to head to college, it was no coincidence that Karin chose to attend one of the coveted seven sister schools, Mount Holyoke College, known in part as one of the winningest Equestrian teams in the Country. Karin's horses attended college too, living on campus just up the road from her dormitory. Although the horses' "higher education" ended there, as Karin sadly sold her horses to focus on law school, Karin continued riding for a Central Pennsylvania show barn during the week and training and competing with her Eastern Pennsylvania trainers throughout the East Coast on weekends. After law school, Karin acquired, trained and showed several horses (including one adorable pony, rescued from slaughter).

Veteran's Day

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

Iwo Jima Memorial.jpg

Kaplin Stewart and all of its employees are acutely aware of how much has been sacrificed by members of our Armed Forces through the years in order to keep us safe and defend the freedom we all hold dear. Each year we pause to recognize all those who serve this great nation: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.

Army logo.png

              Marine Corps logo.jpg               Navy logo.png

                    Air Force Logo.png                    Coast Guard logo.png

So much is given and so little asked in return. A simple thank you goes a long way. So from our family to American military veterans and their families everywhere...


Pew Study Finds "Councilmanic Prerogative" As Strong As Ever In Philly

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

It has long been the custom in Philadelphia that individual City Council members have the final say on land development and zoning issues within the bounds of the districts they represent. Even projects that are good for the City as a whole and supported by a majority of City Council members can be stopped by a single member of council when this unwritten rule is invoked.

Councilmanic prerogative - which is effectively full-fledged veto power - permits a member of City Council to control how the land in their neighborhoods is developed. This is particularly the case with ground owned by the City itself. A number of widely known projects have been impacted by this custom over the years. Among them are Sugar House Casino and the Liacouras Center on Temple's campus.

Liacouras Center.jpg

FINAL UPDATE: House Bill 874 Becomes Law

Posted by:  Josh Quinter  (jquinter@kaplaw.com)

Defying the conventional wisdom on how he would handle the recently passed union intimidation bill that was sent to him, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed the legislation into law. In a short press release that can be found here, the Governor indicated that he agreed it was time to close the loophole in the law "that allowed both employees and employers" to engage in harassment without penalty when in a labor dispute.

PA Governor Tom Wolf.jpgThe law, which goes into effect immediately, now permits law enforcement officers and prosecutors to intervene in appropriate circumstances to prevent harassment, stalking, or threats to "use weapons of mass destruction".

This final step brings to a close a long road for supporters of the legislation and adds some common sense back into the criminal code.

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