Categories
Lease Disputes Lien Law

Can You File a Lien on Lease Property?

When one works on leased property, they may only they be able to lien the leasehold interest in some circumstances. The mechanic's lien law, F.S. 713.10, allows a landlord to protect his property from liens from lessee's construction by following a two-step process: One, having a provision in his lease which prohibits liens from attaching; and Two, recording that lease in the county where the property is located. This puts all interested parties on "notice" and protects the property from liens unless the improvement constitutes the "pith" of the lease. Thus, even though a lessor follows the steps above, his property may still be subject to a lien if the improvements are considered the "pith" of the lease. In such cases in Broward County, it is advisable to retain a Fort Lauderdale lien lawyer to fight on your behalf. When considering an attorney, always choose someone who also specializes in resolving legal matters between landlords and tenants – also known as lease disputes.

Determining Factors in Broward Courts

There is no clear definition of when the construction is the "pith" of the lease; however, there are a number of factors. If the construction is an integral part of the lease, where the lease requires the construction, then this may make it the pith of the lease. If it is obvious that the lease would not have been entered into without the improvements contemplated, this may subject the property to liens. Another factor is the character of the property. When the lease refers to improvements to be made and the property is vacant or partially improved and not suitable for its intended use, this may make it subject to liens. The lessors conduct is also important if the lessor is actively involved in the construction process, his lien prohibition in the lease may be deemed a fraud on lienors and make the owners interest liable. The fact that the lessor knows or approves of the construction is not enough by itself, even if the lessor approves construction plans. These are just several of the factors considered by the courts.

If one can not lien the owners interest, what can one lien? The answer is the leasehold interest. This is not much security, especially if the tenant defaults on the lease. The point is that one must know who all the parties are, not just whether one's client is reputable. If one is going to work on leased property which is properly protected or seems to be, try to get a personal guarantee from one's client or the general contractor. This is a very complex area of the law, as such it would be advisable to consult with your Broward Mechanic's lien attorney prior to working on a big job which is leased and where the lessor is not the party who contracted for the improvements in Fort Lauderdale or Hollywood.

Categories
Construction Law

Florida’s Statutes of Limitations: Construction Cases

If you’re weighing legal action against a contractor, subcontractor, construction company or property owner in Fort Lauderdale or Hollywood, don’t make the mistake of thinking you have forever to file a construction lawsuit. Any such litigation in Broward County is subject to rules set forth at the Florida state level, and once the state-mandated period of time – known as the statute of limitations – has passed, it will be extremely difficult for your construction litigation lawyer to successfully file action on your behalf.

Florida's 2017 statutes can be confusing, and vary depending on the type of construction litigation case. It is imperative to know how your case is likely to be classified, and the best way to know with any degree of certainty is to ask an attorney who specializes in this area of law. Any construction lawyer worth his or her salt will offer you a free, no-obligation case evaluation to gain a better understanding of the facts behind the action.

Current Florida statutes

According to Florida Statute 95.11, the following deadlines apply to construction-related lawsuits, and are for "actions other than for recovery of real property:"

Four years: This includes action against contractors or construction companies for "design, planning, or construction of an improvement" resulting from defective materials. If the defects are deemed to be latent, the statute of limitations could be extended to 10 years. Also included in this time period are personal injury claims stemming from accidents that occurred at the construction site.
Two years: This deadline applies to the filing of wrongful death lawsuits caused by catastrophic accidents on the construction site.
One year: This is for cases involving foreclosures or lien filings. If a property owner refuses to pay a contractor or sub-contractor for services rendered per the terms of an agreed-upon and executed contract, a lawyer could file for a mechanic's lien against the property, forcing its sale and potentially distributing the proceeds to those who were not paid as promised in writing.

Statutes of limitation can be tricky, and there might be some overlap, depending on the unique circumstances surrounding your case.

Why you shouldn't file suit right away

There is no set period of time that one must wait before filing action in Broward County court. That said, it might save you time, money and sanity to attempt a few alternatives to litigation before embarking upon the lengthy – and potentially costly – fight in court. For example, one strongly worded demand letter from your Fort Lauderdale construction attorney could be enough to show the other party or parties that you are serious about litigation. We have witnessed – time and time again – how that one document could be all that's needed to light a fire under the other parties get you paid. Why file suit if there's a chance to resolve the matter quickly and without the hassle?

Why you should never wait till the last minute

It's startling how many would-be plaintiffs drag their feet when it comes to filing, only to find out the hard way that they misunderstood and miscategorized their case, and that the statutes of limitations for their true case type have already expired, neutralizing any claim to money they were sure would come someday. Time also tends to shroud evidence, and potential witnesses who could be instrumental to your case could become harder and harder to track down. Construction lawyers in Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale tend to stay busy, and there is no guarantee that counsel will have room on the schedule for a last-minute case, especially if said evidence and witnesses need to be gathered and tracked down.

David S. Tupler, P.A. has proudly represented Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale for more than 25 years. If you're involved in a construction dispute in Broward County, let us work to get you paid. Our initial consultation is absolutely free. Call today and discover why our law firm is the best fit for your unique case type.

Categories
Construction Law Lien Law

The Miller Act’s Impact on Fort Lauderdale Contractors

What is the Miller Act?

In 1893, the United States government enacted a law known as the Heard Act. This Act stated that any construction company performing work for the U.S. government must carry a performance bond. Later, this Act was changed to include a bond securing payment for all subcontractors performing on the contract. When these changes took place, the law became known as the Miller Act.

The Miller Act was established to protect the government from unexpected costs relating to construction projects due to non-performance or delays caused by the contractor. In addition, the government offered protection to all Florida subcontractors under this law in an effort to keep construction costs low. Subcontractors, under Sovereign Immunity, cannot have their Fort Lauderdale attorney place a lien on a government owned building for labor and material costs. The Miller Act guarantees that these subcontractors are paid for their supplies and services.

Construction contractors must comply

The first thing that every Fort Lauderdale or Hollywood construction company that bids on government jobs must understand is that complying with the Miller Act is mandatory. There are no exceptions. Broward County contractors who are awarded construction projects valued in excess of $100,000 that are meant to construct, alter or repair a Federal building will be required to meet the following obligations:

Performance Bond. The amount of the bond will be determined by the contract officer and will be based on the overall value of the contract and other relevant facts. Part of this bond must include coverage for payroll taxes. This bond must name the contact officer as the recipient of the bond if the terms of the contract are broken.

Payment Bond. A payment bond in the value of the entire contract must be taken out to protect employees, suppliers, and subcontractors from non-payment of monies due. The contractor has the ability to request a lower bond amount, based on actual anticipated costs of materials and labor. However, it is at the discretion of the contract officer to determine the amount of the bond necessary to cover all necessary payments.

Contracts that are values between $30,000 and 100,000 dollars have similar requirements for bonds. However, it is very important for contractors to verify the bond requirements prior to bidding on the job. Once a job has been awarded to a specific company, these bond requirements will go into effect. Failure to comply will cause the contractor to lose the contract and may ban them from future contract opportunities.

It should be noted that the Miller Act applies to Federal construction projects only. Construction contracts concerning state and local government entities will have their own bond requirements for their contracts.

Enforcement of the Act

Under the Miller Act, any party that hasn't received wages for work performed under the contract by the main contractor, or any supplier or subcontractor that has not received payment for their goods or services after 90 days of last providing those goods or services, has the right to sue for payment against the bond.

These lawsuits will name the U.S. government indirectly since it holds the bond. However, it will be the bond itself which is sue and will ultimately pay these outstanding balances. The insurer who issued that bond may seek damages against the contractor once the debts are paid. The U.S. government in no manner will be held accountable for these debts.

Understanding your obligations before You bid

The Miller Act plays a very significant role in any construction or renovation project that is conducted for a federal agency. Understanding how this Act affects your bidding is very important. Contractors seeking government work should become very familiar with this law as well as others that may apply for government contracts.

The federal government will strictly enforce all parts of their contract. It is mandatory that you understand every part of the bidding and acceptance process before submitting your bid. If you are unfamiliar with any part, speaking with a Hollywood or Ft. Lauderdale construction lawyer might be in the best interest of your construction firm.

Government contracts can be very lucrative for your Florida business. Once you have established yourself as a credible contractor, you will be able to bid on larger jobs that will increase your business size and profit. Approaching each of these bids carefully and with full knowledge will allow you to prosper as a government construction contractor.

REFERENCES

U.S. General Services Administration

Categories
Construction Accidents

Irma Causes Fort Lauderdale Crane Collapse

In our blog before Hurricane Irma hit last week, attorney David S. Tupler spoke of the construction accident risks associated with the unsecured cranes atop buildings in South Florida. Despite some manufacturers' claims that cranes are designed to remain upright in winds up to 145 m.p.h., three construction cranes collapsed in Broward and Miami-Dade counties after being pummeled by Irma's winds, including one at Auberge Beach Residences and Spa in Fort Lauderdale.

What's alarming here is that the winds in Fort Lauderdale and the rest of Broward County peaked at 109 m.p.h., well shy of the claims. Our pre-Irma blog mentioned that construction cranes rarely have been put to the test in a real-world setting, as replicating such strong winds for such large structures was very difficult. We have some idea now, as captured on camera by a Twitter user:

Though there were no immediate reports of casualties as a direct result of the crane collapses, there were early signs of damage, as reported by NBC 6:

The crane collapses will undoubtedly spark debate once again over the need for better testing and stronger regulations regarding crane construction and safety. In 2008, Miami-Dade passed an ordinance requiring that construction cranes be able to sustain winds of up to 140 m.p.h., but the legislation was thrown out on a legal challenge. There no doubt will be a lot of finger-pointing and calls for renewed legislative action in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

The images we saw on television reminded us of the dangers that could result from a construction site that is not properly secured prior to a major storm. Unfortunately, the threat is far from over. Workers returning to the site should exercise extreme caution to prevent injuries from Irma-related construction accidents. The owners of construction companies are responsible for ensuring that the site is secure and safe for their workers' return, but this process sometimes is rushed and safety protocols go unfollowed.

If you're a worker who was injured under these or similar circumstances in Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in Broward County, seek the guidance of a construction accident lawyer to learn your legal options.

Categories
Lease Disputes

Can Commercial Leases be Terminated?

Update, January 5, 2018: Florida's new marijuana laws have raised many questions among landlords and tenants. Lease lawyer David S. Tupler addresses some of the biggest concerns in this blog.

In Florida, a commercial lease may be legally "broken" or prematurely terminated by a Broward County landlord or a tenant when the lessor or lessee fails to honor something previously agreed upon according to the agreement, or when the landlord or tenant fails to obey an applicable law which justifies termination of the lease in Fort Lauderdale or Hollywood. Although you should always consult with a Broward lease attorney prior to taking legal action, here is some general information to get you started.

When a landlord or tenant fails to do something agreed upon a commercial lease, this is called a "breach" of the agreement. A basic and simple example of a breach of lease is when a lessee fails to pay rent. When this happens, a lessor usually has the right to terminate the agreement after written notice and opportunity to cure the default has been provided to the tenant in accordance with Florida statutes. Another example of a breach might be if a landlord fails to make promised repairs to a leased property and the agreement specifies that the lessor will make certain repairs within a specified time period.

Written notice of a breach and the opportunity to cure are essential prerequisites prior to termination of a commercial lease. For example, one of the conditions of a commercial lease may be that the lessor promises to maintain a certain amount of liability insurance on the leased property. If the landlord fails to comply with this condition, the tenant must notify the lessor in writing of the breach and give the landlord sufficient time to obtain the promised liability insurance before seeking to terminate the lease.

Breach Isn't Always Grounds for Nullification

Breach of one condition of a commercial lease does not mean that termination of the agreement will always be legally justified. If a breach does not cause sufficient harm or damage to the interests of one party, a termination of the document may not be warranted in the eyes of Broward courts. A lease dispute lawyer must prove that the breach caused a material prejudice to the party seeking the termination. In addition, the court must consider whether forfeiture of the property would result in an unconscionable, inequitable or unjust eviction from a dwelling in Fort Lauderdale or Hollywood.

Certain conditions of a commercial lease may be implied even if they are not expressly spelled out in an agreement. One implied condition in a commercial lease is the right of a tlessee to quiet and peaceable possession and enjoyment of property. If a landlord’s actions make it essentially impossible for the tenant to have quiet and peaceable possession of the leased property, a tenant may be justified in seeking to break the lease even if there is no language in the agreement specifically prohibiting the lessor's actions.

Each commercial lease is unique to the individuals and entities involved. Prematurely breaking a commercial lease without legal grounds to do so will likely have lasting negative legal ramifications and result in damaged business relationships. An individual or entity seeking to prematurely terminate a commercial lease should promptly consult with legal counsel. A more favorable and cost-effective solution for premature termination of a commercial lease may be to attempt negotiation, through counsel, of a mutually satisfactory agreement to terminate. If you are considering the termination of a commercial agreement, you should contact an attorney experienced in disputes involving leases in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and throughout Broward County.

Categories
Construction Accidents

Hurricane Irma: Construction Accident Risks Skyrocket

Fort Lauderdale residents and businesses were given plenty of notice this week regarding the potential perils of Hurricane Irma. A week before projected landfall, we have been lectured repeatedly about the hazards associated with storm surge, heavy winds and flooding. Throughout South Florida, property owners are racing to shutter their windows, stock up on supplies and secure their properties in anticipation of the monster storm. Many construction sites in Ft Lauderdale, Hollywood and across Broward County went on "lockdown" several days before Irma hit, meaning workers were allowed on the site, but limited to securing or removing items that could be turned into projectiles by Irma's herculean winds. That was a massive undertaking, and many construction companies worked diligently to minimize the risk of injury.

Unfortunately, as is often the case before such storms when businesses are short on time and manpower, it is highly likely that some construction companies didn't do enough. Not only would this pose danger to the general public in the form of injuries from flying or falling debris, sites that aren't properly secured could resemble missile launchers during a storm, not only endangering the general public, but the workers who will return afterward.

ACCIDENTS DURING THE STORM

In a category 4 or 5 hurricane, virtually nothing is "hurricane proof." Construction cranes, for example, pose a massive injury threat to anyone inhabiting nearby buildings, as they are not able to be tied down or otherwise secured, leaving them at the mercy of the winds. While cranes are designed to remain upright in winds up to 145 mph, this has rarely been tested in a real-world setting. We caught a glimpse of it on live television in 2012, as Hurricane Sandy caused the collapse of a crane in midtown Manhattan. The accident was triggered by minimal hurricane-force winds which barely registered 85 m.p.h. With Irma hitting Florida as a Category 4,  packing maximum sustained winds of 145 mph and gusts up to 170, New York's crane collapse has stoked fears of potential disaster for anyone riding out the storm near any of the dozens of cranes in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County and throughout the region.

Construction companies that fail to secure large objects like metal beams, scaffolding and wood all but ensure that they'll become projectiles during a major hurricane. Smaller objects; however, could pose an even bigger threat, as they can be hurled farther and faster. Even the tiniest of objects – like a nail – can become a dart in a split second. Materials of any size that are not properly secured on higher levels of a high-rise site could be thrown great distances at very high speeds.

Suffice to say, a whole lot of cleanup and preparation is critical to preventing accidents during the storm. If a construction company didn't do enough to prevent your injuries or the death of a loved one, retaining the services of a construction injury attorney greatly increases the chances of a favorable outcome in court. You or your family might be entitled to significant compensation if it can be proven that someone's negligence caused the accident.

WORKERS' INJURY RISK BEGINS AFTERWARD

Workers returning to a construction site after a hurricane could be at great risk if the company didn't properly secure the site before the storm. Unbeknownst to them, large items could have shifted, leading to partial structure collapses and falling debris. Risk of electric shock due to live wires is also increased, especially near standing water. Toxic chemicals that were not properly secured might have spilled or leaked, leading to dangerous exposure to the unsuspecting worker.

Like any employer in Florida, construction companies have an obligation to provide a safe work environment for their employees. After the storm, it is incumbent upon them to inspect, assess and secure the site again before their employees return. If they fail to do this and a worker is injured or killed as a result, they could be found liable in a court of law and ordered to pay damages to construction injury victims or their families.

If you suffered an injury on a site that you believe was related to lack of preparation for Hurricane Irma, it is imperative that you consult with a Fort Lauderdale construction accident lawyer immediately after the incident. With every passing day, evidence of the hazardous conditions that caused your injuries could disappear, as debris is removed and structures are fixed. This evidence often is critical to a successful judgment in court. All it takes is one call to get the ball rolling. Let a law firm get a jump-start on gathering evidence that will help you, while you focus on recovering.

Broward County construction accident attorney David S. Tupler, P.A. specializes in injury cases. Schedule a FREE consult at our Hollywood or Fort Lauderdale offices.

Categories
Contract Disputes

Can a contract be voided?

If two (ore more) parties sign a written agreement, learning that it’s voidable may be jarring. However, in Broward County and elsewhere in Florida, it can happen. Contract dispute attorney David S. Tupler, P.A. offers the following as possible grounds for nullification of a signed contract in Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood:

Cooling-off Period

Even after signing on the dotted line, both parties involved in a contract may still be entitled to have three days to consider canceling it in full or have certain goods and/or services removed on the agreement if over $25. Also, sold goods and/or service deals made during a home solicitation sale also get a three-day grace period to cancel. If the signed documents are not clear on the exact process to follow to cancel, consult a lawyer. Similar to warranty periods, if the contract cancellation is not submitted in the exact manner mentioned in the executed documents, legally, the disputing party may make it non-voidable.

Illegal Agreement

Illegal drugs and crime are obvious examples of why a contract would be voidable. However, petty crimes also may come into play. For example, if a bootleg movie seller is contracted and paid to acquire a certain film or a clear quality film, the buyer cannot take the bootleg seller to court for a poor quality film. The buyer also cannot legally fight in court if the seller doesn’t acquire the film at all. In the U.S., software piracy could lead to statutory damages of anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000, a felony charge and/or a five-year prison sentence. These charges include social piracy, counterfeit piracy and online piracy as well.

Mental Capacity

A contract law attorney and possibly law enforcement may be needed to prove an agreement is voidable in the case of mental capacity. It is altogether different for someone to sign an agreement without knowing what some legal terms mean versus being inebriated. For example, a marriage can be annulled if one or both parties is bullied into signing after a fraudulent act or misrepresentation, either party is drunk (from alcohol) or on Schedule I-level drugs , one of the parties is a minor, not honest about impotency, or the marriage is a joke. Contracts work much the same way.

Minors

In Florida, almost all legal rights (including jury duty and being sued in court) can happen at the age of 18 or older. If a contract is created that includes minors, there must be someone of adult age who can agree to the terms for goods and services. Should the minor still choose to opt out of the agreement, that minor cannot be punished in a court of law. For example, if a child actor decides to not participate in a film, his guardian may be held accountable for potential fees but this would not be something that could trickle down to the minor’s credit report.

Missed Deadline

If either party is concerned about when to file a contract lawsuit, seeking legal counsel may help answer that question. The time to file a lawsuit can range from anywhere to a year to five years. If a company does not correctly file within the legal time frame, the opposing party’s lawsuit may be dismissed and the agreement could be voidable. However, if one party chooses arbitration, that eliminates the right to a dispute by judge or jury.

Real Estate

Although there are some oral agreements that can be honored in Broward County court, real estate contracts are not among them. According to the Florida Bar, the sale of real estate cannot be completed if it is not in writing within one year’s time-frame, so time is of the essence. Consult with a Hollywood or Fort Lauderdale contract lawyer immediately after a discrepancy arises for the best chance of prevailing in court.

Categories
Lien Law

Changes: 2013 Lien & Foreclosure Laws

As the state with the largest inventory of backlogged foreclosures, Florida also has one of the longest foreclosure timelines in the country. In 2013, the State Legislature took steps to remedy the slow pace and mounting backlog by passing House Bill 87, also known as the Florida Fair Foreclosure Act (FFFA). The bill expanded the foreclosure process, thereby making it impossible for Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood homeowners to recover their property after a judgment lien in certain instances. The law also requires lenders to produce the mortgage note when filing their mechanic's lien and places new limits on deficiency judgments in Broward County.

About Foreclosures in Florida

In the Sunshine State, foreclosures are handled judicially; therefore, the lender who wishes to begins the process must file a mechanic's lien in state court. After a complaint is file with the court, the complaint and a summons are served to the borrower. If the lender wins the court case, the judge will enter a judgment of foreclosure, and the property can be sold to satisfy the borrower's debt.

Criticisms of the FFFA

Florida's Fair Foreclosure Act has been criticized by many as being unfair to distressed homeowners. The law's expansions allow third-party lien holders such as homeowner associations to expedite the foreclosure process. As a result, the homeowner may have less time to seek a loan modification. The law also states that foreclosure judgments are final. Legal remedy, limited to monetary compensation, may be sought if the homeowner was not properly served in the foreclosure action, a final judgment was entered, the appeals period has been exhausted, and the home has been purchased by a party who is unaffiliated with the lender and previous owner.

Ways FFFA May Help Homeowner

Legislators who favored Florida's Fair Foreclosure Act argued the law would offer consumers protection by requiring banks and lenders to prove they own a mortgage before filing a foreclosure action. Before the 2013 law was enacted, lenders could simply file a foreclosure action without proving they actually owned the note on the property. The absence of requiring proof led to many wrongful foreclosures against homeowners. Today, lenders must produce a promissory note or other document as evidence of current ownership of the note. While courts may accept the documents on their face as true, homeowners may offer contrary proof that the mortgage does not belong the lender whose Fort Lauderdale mechanic's lien attorney has filed action in Broward County court.

The 2013 foreclosure act also reduces the statute of limitations on deficiency judgments. A lender may pursue a personal judgment against the homeowner for the difference between the amount the house is actually worth and the amount the homeowner owes on the mortgage. This type of award is known as a deficiency judgment. Prior to enactment of FFFA, the statute of limitations for filing a deficiency action was five years. The new law reduced the time frame to one year. Moreover, deficiency judgments may not exceed the difference between the foreclosure judgment and the fair market value of the house on the day it was sold.

The Florida Fair Foreclosure Act made changes that impact the overall timeline of a foreclosure as well as who may file a claim against a homeowner. Therefore, distressed homeowners should contact a knowledgeable Broward County construction lien lawyer very early in the foreclosure process to increase the likelihood of remaining in their home and to ensure their rights are protected from the beginning.

Categories
Lien Law

What is a Notice of Commencement?

Chapter 713 of the Florida Statutes covers construction liens, or mechanic's liens. This law has certain requirements specified that protect contractors, subcontractors, sub-subcontractors and suppliers with provisions for timely payment and for enforcing liens on property in the event of non-payment. There are also safeguards for property owners from having to pay more than once for work or supplies. A crucial document found in this statute is the Notice of Commencement.

What is the Purpose?

The purposes of the Notice of Commencement are to signify the start of project and to provide basic contact information for the property owner, contractor, lender and about the surety. A Notice of Commencement is often a necessary document in order to obtain a building permit in Broward County.

It acts as notification to all contractors, subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, laborers and materialmen that the work will start on the project. A Notice of Commencement is an important tool that helps to prevent the owner from being required to pay more than once for work and helps to ensure suppliers and subcontractors are paid.

At the beginning of a project, owners must sign a Notice of Commencement, stating that they are the owner; list their contact information, give the legal description of the property, state the contractor's name and address, state surety information, identify the lender, describe the work being done and provide an expiration date of the Notice of Commencement. The document also allows the owner to appoint a designee who receives lien-related documents and notices.

The Notice of Commencement is recorded in public records and must be posted at the job site. It lists all the information necessary for workers needing to complete a Notice to Owner. Any potential lienor should serve a Notice to Owner to secure their right to enforce a lien. Correspondingly, property owners are advised to get a written lien release waiver each time a payment is made to the contractor.

If there is no Notice of Commencement posted or recorded, subcontractors or sub-subcontractors, who have not received full payment, can face challenges getting the appropriate information needed to file a mechanic's lien. Florida's mechanic's lien law allows certain individuals involved with the project to enforce their claim against the owner if they do not receive payment for services or materials. The potential result is the sale of the property, against the wishes of the owner, to pay the lienors.

Is a Notice Required?

The property owner or property owner's agent is the one who must file the Notice of Commencement. Florida law states that a Notice of Commencement must be submitted to the clerk's office in order to apply for a building permit with contracts having a value greater than $2,500. The exception is for permits related to the repair or replacement of heating and air-conditioning systems. In this case, the document is needed if the contract value is greater than $7,500. The Notice of Commencement is recorded in the county's property records prior to any permit inspections.

A Notice of Commencement is a key document involved with construction projects. Not only is it beneficial to those participating in the project, in many situations, it is often required. The Notice of Commencement is especially helpful to contractors, subcontractors, sub-subcontractors and material suppliers who may need the information on this document to complete a Notice to Owner to ensure they receive payment.

In Broward County, A Hollywood or Fort Lauderdale mechanic's lien attorney can answer all of your questions about Florida's construction lien laws and the Notice of Commencement.

Categories
Contract Disputes

Are contracts valid if signed when drunk?

People routinely make incorrect decisions when they're under the influence of alcohol. In some instances, an intoxicated person may sign a contract while under the influence only to later regret entering into the agreement. Fortunately, Florida law often grants recourse to individuals who sign a contract while intoxicated, and the first step toward maximizing your chances of success in court is hiring a Fort Lauderdale contract attorney to assist you with your dispute.

Elements of a written agreement in Broward County

Generally, an agreement must meet a few specific criteria before Broward court will consider the agreement to be a legally-binding contract. First, an offer must be made by one party to another. Next, the other party must accept the offer. Both parties must then have a "meeting of the minds" and agree to the material terms. The agreement must also call for the exchange of something of value or "consideration." Finally, the contract must not involve an illegality, and the terms must be definite and clear enough to enable a court to sufficiently enforce the agreement. If one of the parties is intoxicated, courts will typically find that a meeting of the minds did not occur because a person who has been drinking may not be able to sufficiently understand the material terms of a contract.

Proving intoxication created impairment

Once a court finds that the an otherwise valid contract was entered into during the time frame in which one of the parties claims to have been intoxicated, the party who alleges intoxication must demonstrate to the court reasons the contract should not be enforced. Typically, the party must show that his or her intoxication was severe enough to create impairment. The party would then argue that the intoxication-induced impairment caused him or her to lack the required capacity to enter into a legally-binding contract. If the court finds that the intoxicated party lacked capacity, the judge may rule the contract voidable, meaning the intoxicated party may avoid the contract if he or she chooses to do so.

Recourse for the other party's lawyer

In some instances, when one party is seeking to avoid a contract by claiming intoxication, the other party may wish to enforce the contract to avoid suffering a loss. The party who wishes to enforce the contract may file a quasi-contractual claim in the interest of seeking a more equitable remedy. This type of claim allows parties who acted in good faith and performed as though a contract existed to be compensated for certain losses that may result from the contract no longer being enforced.

Possible criminal liability

Sometimes one party may deliberately attempt to create a contract with an intoxicated or otherwise impaired person. If someone is found to have been attempting to take advantage of another party's intoxicated state, the party who attempted to induce the intoxicated individual may face criminal charges.

Those who suspect they may have entered into a contract while lacking the ability to understand the terms of a contract in Hollwyood, Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in Broward County should contact a contract lawyer with a track record of successfully handling disputes regarding signed documents. While sinister intent on the other party's behalf is not a requirement for filing an action in court, there are also cases in which the impaired party is in dire need of protection from a party who deliberately exploited the impairment. Regardless, a contract dispute lawyer can determine whether the circumstances surrounding a contract are fair and ensure that your rights are protected.