December 13, 2019
January 15, 2021 Update – Bryan W. Black, Esq.
In June 2020, at the Fourth District Court of Appeals, Appellant/Plaintiff sought plenary review of the final “Order on Defendant’s Motion for Final Summary Judgment”. Appellant argued that (1) the lower court erred in granting final summary judgment in favor of Appellee/Defendant since failure to comply with the notice requirement of Fla. Stat. 558.004 is not dispositive of an action requiring dismissal with prejudice and (2) that the lower court erred in granting final summary judgment in favor of Appellee since Appellant substantially complied with the notice requirement of Fla. Stat. 558.004. Appellee/Defendant timely responded with its Answer Brief describing how “Plaintiff has no evidentiary basis for a claim for damages and has no disputed issues of fact to be determined by the jury” pursuant to Fla. Stat. 558.004(11).
On January 14, 2021, the Fourth District Court of Appeals Affirmed Per Curiam the Trial Court’s ruling. The Fourth District also granted Appellee’s Motion for attorney fees conditioned on the Trial Court’s determination that Appellee is entitled to fees under section Fla. Stat. 768.79. The ruling is not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Boca Raton, Florida Homeowner alleged in a Complaint that Defendant Roofer’s Stone-Coated Steel Roof and flat deck TPO installation was defective, violated Florida Building Code, violated workmanship standards and breached its Contract. The defective installation allegedly resulted in significant water and mold damage to the home’s interior. Homeowner allegedly suffered compensatory damages in excess of $100,000, incidental and consequential damages, and sought attorney’s fees.
Defendant moved for Final Summary Judgment arguing that Plaintiff failed to provide Defendant with the mandatory statutory Notice and Opportunity to Repair/Cure, as required by Florida Statute §558.004 and, therefore, pursuant to Florida Statute §558.004(11), Plaintiff was prohibited from going to trial against Defendant on any “unnoticed” defects. After hearing argument, the Court found that Plaintiff failed to comply with Fla. Stat. §558.004(1)(a), and pursuant to Fla. Stat. §558.004(11) the court shall allow the action to proceed to trial only as to alleged construction defects that were noticed and for which the claimant has complied with this chapter and as to construction defects reasonably related to, or caused by, the construction defects previously noticed. As a result of Plaintiff’s failure to comply with the mandatory requirements, Plaintiff had no evidentiary basis for a claim for damages and had no disputed issue of fact to be determined by the jury. Therefore, Final Judgment in favor of Defendant was granted.
December 2, 2019
On February 7, 2015, a fire ripped through a 5 Napkins Restaurant on South Florida’s popular outdoor retail strip on Lincoln Road in South Beach. The damages to the building were extensive and ultimately caused the restaurant to close. Michael B. Stevens, Esq., and Mary Grecz, Esq., from Derrevere Stevens Black & Cozad filed a subrogation lawsuit on behalf of the landlord’s carrier, Zurich American Insurance Company, against a number of contractors involved with the maintenance and installation of the hood system, fire suppression system, and its insured’s tenant, Puccini, LLC. The tenant immediately moved to dismiss the Complaint on the basis that, while not a named insured under Zurich’s insurance policy, they should be considered an implied co-insured and, therefore, Zurich should be barred from subrogating against them. The trial court ultimately agreed with the tenant and dismissed Zurich’s lawsuit with prejudice. An appeal was then taken by Zurich to the Third-District Court of Appeal.
On appeal, Zurich’s primary argument was that the trial court had used the wrong standard to evaluate whether the tenant should be considered an implied co-insured under the Zurich policy. In dismissing the Complaint, the trial court had relied heavily on the fact that part of the tenant’s rent was used to pay a portion of the premiums for the Zurich policy. The trial court all but ignored the remainder of the lease which placed the risk of loss for a fire on the tenant and never shifted it back to the landlord. The Third-District Court of Appeal, in reversing the trial court, utilized the “Case-By-Case” approach, and found that when looking at the lease as a whole, even though a portion of the premium was paid for with the tenant’s rent, it was clear that the intent of the parties was for the tenant to bear the risk of loss in the event of a fire. The tenant thereafter sought review by the Florida Supreme Court which ultimately declined jurisdiction on September 10, 2019, thereby sending the case back down to the trial court for Zurich to continue its pursuit of the tenant.
August 24, 2018
Michael Stevens and Mary Grecz will both be presenting at the 2018 National Association of Subrogation Professionals’ (“NASP”) Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.
Mr. Stevens will be presenting on the topic of Ethical Management, which will cover managing employees on both the insurance carrier and law firm sides.
Mrs. Grecz will be presenting on the topic of Marine Subrogation Claims, which will focus on best practices for marine loss investigations and avoiding potential legal pitfalls.
Additional detail can be found on the NASP website here.
November 2, 2017
The West Palm Beach-based law firm of Derrevere Hawkes Black & Cozad has recently changed its name to Derrevere Stevens Black & Cozad. Along with the name change, Michael B. Stevens has become the Managing Partner for the firm’s new satellite office in Boston, Massachusetts. Mr. Stevens manages the Insurance Subrogation and Real Estate Divisions for the firm.
In addition, Derrevere Stevens Black & Cozad would like to welcome Attorney Marjorie Levine to the firm. Ms. Levine is the sixth member of our Architect and Engineer Professional Liability Division.
November 1, 2017
Attorney Bryan Black will be speaking at next year’s XL Catlin Adjuster Webinar.
Mr. Black will be speaking about Pre-Suit Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Clauses.
September 13, 2017
Michael Stevens and Teddy Stevens will be speaking at the National Association of Subrogation Professionals Annual Conference in Austin, Texas on November 7, 2017.
The title of the presentation is: Yes, but is it classy (ethical)?: A year in review of effective/ineffective communications and how to handle it with class. A re-education on how to communicate with each other in a way that is polite, respectful, effective, and especially – ethical.
Starting with ethical standards applicable to all attorneys, the session will go through real life anonymous examples of communications from the past year that show the highs and lows people have used to express themselves to opposing counsel, clients, third-parties, courts, the media, and others. This session will shed light on the dark side of poor communicators and help everyone handle those situations with more class, and in turn, greater success.
For more information, visit the event website.
April 21, 2017
Bryan Black Obtains Final Summary Judgment in Personal Injury Case involving claim against Architectural Company
December 7, 2016 – Smith v. Calvary, et al:
Counsel for Architect: Bryan W. Black.
This action arises out of personal injuries sustained by Plaintiff that occurred while Plaintiff was descending stairs in the center aisle of a theater on the Subject property.
Plaintiff sustained serious injuries to his legs which have led to multiple surgeries and extensive medical care. Plaintiff alleged that the Architect was negligent for failing to include handrails in its design of the center aisle in the theater.
At the time of Plaintiff’s fall, the design and construction of the property had been completed for more than four years, the Certificate of Occupancy had been issued and Owner had complete custody and control of the Property.
The Architect filed a motion for Summary Judgment based solely on the Slavin Doctrine. This doctrine stands for the position that liability is cutoff after the owner has accepted the work performed, if the alleged defect is “patent” which the owner could have discovered and remedied.
At the time of the hearing on Architect’s Motion, the only opposition asserted was from the Property Owner, who claimed the alleged dangerous condition asserted by Plaintiff was a “latent” defect. However, there was overwhelming evidence by way of correspondence to establish that the condition was open and obvious and Owner knew of and had previously discussed the stairs as a “safety concern”. These discussions included obtaining quotes for the installation of handrails, both before and after Plaintiff’s accident.
The Court granted Architect’s Motion holding (1) that Owner had standing to oppose Architect’s Motion and (2) that the alleged defect was patent and the Architect had no legal duty to Plaintiffs and cannot be found at fault or liable as a matter of law, citing Slavin v. Kay, 108 So. 2d 426 (Fla. 1979); Easterday v. Masiello, 518 So. 2d 260 (Fla. 1988).
After the entry of the Order Granting Summary Judgment, the Owner moved for Rehearing, which was denied.
April 21, 2017
Bryan Black Obtains Final Summary Judgment in Construction Defect case involving claim against Individual Architect
December 22, 2016 – 900 Biscayne Condominium Association v. 900 Biscayne, LLC, et al:
Counsel for Defendant Architect: Bryan W. Black.
This action arises out of claims asserted by 900 Biscayne Condominium against the Developer, Designers, Contractor and Subcontractors. 900 Biscayne, LLC (Developer) also filed cross and third party claims, including claims against certain individual Architects.
The Client, a principal of Architectural Firm, was one of the individually named architects sued in the action for professional negligence. The Client was not the Architect of Record who signed and sealed the Project design documents.
Final Summary Judgment was sought on the basis that under Florida Law, an officer, agent, member, manager or employee of a corporation of limited liability company is only professionally liable and accountable for negligent and wrongful acts of misconduct committed by that person, or by any person under that person’s direct supervision and control, while rendering professional services on behalf of the corporation. Fla. Stat. 621.07.
The Court found that the information submitted by the Developer, at best, established Client’s role was probably minimal in contract administration, but didn’t establish any violation of professional standards as an architect. The conduct claimed of is in the character of acting as a principal of Architectural Firm, as opposed to the acts of an individual architect in a professional capacity. Therefore, Final Summary Judgment was entered in favor of the Client as an individual architect, completely removing him individually from this action.
April 21, 2017
Attorney Bryan W. Black, an Allied Member of the American Institute of Architects, spoke at the organization’s Conference on Architecture on April 29, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. The event featured workshops, seminars, tours and events lead by industry-leading architects and design professionals.
Mr. Black, who represents architects and other designers throughout the State of Florida, participated in the conference alongside John Ehrig, FAIA and Martin Smith, AIA in a panel discussion titled “Let’s Make a Shady Deal: Understanding Ethics in Architecture.”
June 9, 2015
After a two week jury trial, and three hours of deliberations, a six member St. Johns County jury found Florida Rock & Tank Lines, Inc. to be primarily at fault for the fuel spill, fire and eventual explosion that destroyed The 5th Wheel BP gas station owned by Coomes Oil & Supply, Inc., and neighboring businesses on August 19, 2011. The jury awarded Derrevere Hawkes Black & Cozad’s client Coomes Oil & Supply, Inc. $800,000 in damages.
Florida Rock & Tank Lines, Inc., sued Coomes Oil and J.B. Coomes to recover the loss of its gasoline tanker truck that was destroyed after in the fire and explosion that ensued. Coomes Oil and J.B. Coomes countersued Florida Rock & Tank Lines, Inc., for the fair market value of the gas station and costs incurred for debris removal and environmental clean-up.
Jon D. Derrevere argued, and the jury conclusively found, that the Florida Rock driver, David Cowles, failed to comply with mandatory safety regulations by parking too close to the above ground storage tanks, failing to verify the available safe fill capacity of the tanks, and not remaining within close proximity to the shut off valves while unloading fuel. The jury found that J.B. Coomes was not personally negligent for the explosion. After being personally exonerated, J.B. Coomes was very satisfied with the verdict.
A clip from the Coomes Oil’s closing argument can be found on the link below.