Sometimes, when you’re a defendant in a commercial litigation action, success is measured by the ability to avoid liability and avoid paying any damages. Other times, though, the possibility of paying $0 in damages is not realistic. Even then, there are still important goals to reach; namely, avoiding paying more in damages than the law says you really should owe. As a defendant, whether you are seeking a defense verdict or just to minimize the damages you owe, be sure to retain a skilled South Florida commercial litigation attorney to help you reach your goals and protect your business interests.
A concrete contractor from Davie was one of those commercial litigation defendants. The recent case revolved around the construction of a new airport taxiway, and several other improvements, at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport. The owner, Broward County, hired several entities to handle the work, including the entity from Davie, which served as the general contractor.
There were problems with the new taxiway’s construction, as the county spotted flaws on the taxiway’s surface. Eventually, the county ended up hiring a different engineering firm to reconstruct the taxiway, costing the county millions of dollars. That led the county to sue several contractors involved with the allegedly defective initial construction of the taxiway. The trial court found that the county had suffered $6 million in damages and ordered the general contractor to pay the county $900,000.
Several parties appealed the decision. The general contractor’s argument on appeal was that the trial judge used the wrong measure of damages to calculate the amount of the county’s damages. Having the amount you owe calculated based on the wrong measure of damages can mean you being ordered to pay more than you really should under the law. Generally, when you are involved in a construction defect case in Florida, the correct calculation of damages is to assess “the reasonable cost of construction and completion in accordance with the contract, if this is possible and does not involve unreasonable economic waste.”
Your breach does not give the other side carte blanche in remedying that breach
Just because your business made mistakes on a job and those mistakes contributed to defects, that does not give the client unlimited freedom to redo the project any way it wants to, at any amount of expense, and still hold you responsible for all the costs it racks up. Instead, the amount of damages to which the client is entitled is “limited to what would have been the reasonable cost of repair according to the original design.” This is also sometimes called “benefit of the bargain” damages.
In this airport taxiway case, the proper measure of damages that the general contractor owed should have been based on “the cost of repair” of bringing the taxiway into “its bargained-for state,” as stipulated under the agreement. That’s not what happened at trial, though. Instead, the trial judge set damages based on the county’s expenses in redesigning and reconstructing the taxiway in accordance with an entirely different design than what was contemplated by the original contract. This was an incorrect assessment of “damages based upon an improper measure of the County’s expectation interest.”
Because of that, the general contractor won a reversal of the damages award against it and a new hearing on the proper amount it owed.
Whether you find yourself as the plaintiff or the defendant in a commercial breach of contract action, you need the right legal representation to make certain your business interests are protected to the fullest extent of the law. To get that sort of powerful and effective legal representation, depend on the experienced commercial litigation attorneys at Stok Kon + Braverman. Our team of skilled litigation attorneys is here to give you the legal advice and advocacy you need. Contact us online or by calling (954) 237-1777 to schedule your consultation.