General Archives

On behalf of Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, P.C. posted in Construction Industry News on Jan 9, 2018.

Earlier this month, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania decided a construction matter that focused on two issues: 1. Whether the subcontractor waived any potential claims against the general contractor by signing the periodic releases and change orders; and 2. Even if so, whether statements made by the general contractor’s employees waived the general contractor’s claim to rely on the releases and change orders. The Court concluded that the general contractor never waived its right to rely on the releases and change orders, which themselves barred the subcontractor from asserting certain claims against the general contractor, and consequently ruled in favor of the general contractor.  The case may be found at this link: http://www.paed.uscourts.gov/documents/opinions/18D0005P.pdf  

First Impressions

On behalf of Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, P.C. posted in Construction Industry News on Jan 9, 2018.

In a case of first impression, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the majority members of a limited liability company owe a fiduciary duty to the minority members that is breached if the majority sell the LLC’s assets to a new LLC controlled by the majority members.  The opinion may be found at this link: http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Superior/out/Opinion%20%20ReversedRemanded%20%2010334626430440435.pdf  

Philadelphia Atlas

On behalf of Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, P.C. posted in Construction Industry News on Nov 8, 2017.

Philadelphia is set to launch Atlas, a  comprehensive database which provides deed information, permits, 311 data, crime statistics, zoning appeals, and the registered community organization (RCO) for Philadelphia properties.  https://philly.curbed.com/2017/11/7/16617296/philadelphia-properties-land-vacant-lot-atlas-map-tool  

Service Rules for Mechanics’ Liens in Pennsylvania must be Strictly Followed

On behalf of Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, P.C. posted in Construction Industry News on Nov 8, 2017.

The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas decision in Bertino v. Clark-Dougherty, 2017 WL 4330687 (2017) is a reminder that the service rules for mechanics’ liens in Pennsylvania must be strictly followed.  In Bertino, the court granted preliminary objections and struck a mechanics’ lien claim because service of the notice of filing of the lien was made improperly, even though the property owner actually received the notice.  The Court found that service on the out-of-state property owner by regular mail, after a certified mailing went undelivered, was improper. Further, the lien claimant failed to file an affidavit of service within twenty days of the supposed service, as required by the mechanics’ lien law.  Due to the very technical nature of the lien law’s requirements, and because these requirement will be strict enforced, potential lien claimants should always consult counsel before attempting to perfect lien rights. “Hat-tip to Lynne’s Westclip distribution”  

Under what circumstances will a non-signatory to an arbitration agreement be bound to arbitrate?

On behalf of Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, P.C. posted in Arbitration/Mediation on Nov 8, 2017.

Two recent decisions deal with this sometimes perplexing problem.  In Burns v. Sky Zone, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s order denying preliminary objections seeking to enforce an arbitration agreement against an injured party whose spouse had signed an arbitration agreement in his name.  To be bound to arbitrate, the Superior Court ruled, the non-signatory must have had an agency relationship with the signatory based upon (1) express authority, (2) implied authority, (3) apparent authority, and/or (4) authority by estoppel.  Finding no proof of agency under any of these bases, the Superior Court held that the non-signing spouse had no duty to arbitrate. In Scottsdale Ins. Co. v. Kinsale Ins. Co., the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania compelled an insurance company to arbitrate under an arbitration clause in another insurer’s policy.  The Court observed that a non-signatory cannot be bound to arbitrate unless it is bound under traditional principles of contract and agency law to be akin to a signatory of the underlying agreement, and that equitable estoppel in this context arises when a non-signatory to an arbitration clause knowingly exploits the agreement containing the arbitration clause despite having never signed the agreement.  These two cases underscore the complex factual and legal issues to be analyzed in deciding whether and when a non-signatory must arbitrate.

“Integrated Project Delivery: Collaborative Innovation in the Construction Industry”

On behalf of Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, P.C. posted in Construction Industry News on Oct 24, 2017.

On October 23, 2017, Kevin Amadio, a principal in Kaplin Stewart’s Construction Department, presented a program on “Integrated Project Delivery: Collaborative Innovation in the Construction Industry” for the Subcontractor’s Association of the Delaware Valley and moderated a panel discussion with a group of construction industry representatives about their experiences with IPD projects in the Philadelphia area.  

Service Rules for Mechanics’ Liens in Pennsylvania

On behalf of Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, P.C. posted in Construction Industry News on Oct 17, 2017.

The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas decision in Bertino v. Clark-Dougherty, 2017 WL 4330687 (2017) is a reminder that the service rules for mechanics’ liens in Pennsylvania must be strictly followed.  In Bertino, the court granted preliminary objections and struck a mechanics’ lien claim because service of the notice of filing of the lien was made improperly, even though the property owner actually received the notice.  The Court found that service on the out-of-state property owner by regular mail, after a certified mailing went undelivered, was improper. Further, the lien claimant failed to file an affidavit of service within twenty days of the supposed service, as required by the mechanics’ lien law.  Due to the very technical nature of the lien law’s requirements, and because these requirement will be strict enforced, potential lien claimants should always consult counsel before attempting to perfect lien rights.  

Pennsylvania Superior Court Decided

On behalf of Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, P.C. posted in Construction Industry News on Oct 6, 2017.

On September 27, 2017, the Pennsylvania Superior Court decided that the Bilt-Rite case, which held that an architect could be liable to a contractor for negligent misrepresentation, applies to other professionals as well.  The Court therefore reversed a trial court decision in favor of an accountant, stating that: “We find the court applied a too narrow reading to Bilt-Rite in determining that the case only concerns disputes involving an architect/contractor scenario. Rather, we conclude Bilt-Rite can be applied to other factual scenarios where a party is providing professional information that is designed to be relied upon by a third party.”  The case may be found at this link: http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Superior/out/24161563.       

Celebrating Labor Day

On behalf of Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, P.C. posted in General on Sep 5, 2016.

Wishing all those who work so hard to help build this country and make her great a wonderful Labor Day. Thanks for all you do and for letting Kaplin Stewart be part of your great industry.

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