Category Archives: Design Professionals (A&E)

IRS Warns CPAs: Beware of Phishing

Businesses are increasingly becoming the targets of sophisticated cyber-attacks, and professionals are no exception. When cyber-criminals breach a professional service firm, they not only may gain access to the firm’s corporate data, but also confidential information from the firm’s clients. Therefore, it is incumbent on all professionals to make data security a priority.

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Sign, Sign, Everywhere Assign

Professionals owe a duty to their clients to satisfy the standard of care commonly exhibited by others within their profession. Consequently, privity is often required to maintain a malpractice claim; i.e. it is often the client with the exclusive right to sue her professional. This narrow application of standing assumes, however, that clients have retained their exclusive right to sue. In fact, as with many torts, clients may freely assign their right to file malpractice actions to third parties, even those that are adverse to the client in the underlying litigation.

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Is it Tort or Contract? Both

Contract law is that body of rules that govern agreements between contracting parties. In contrast, tort laws govern situations where one person has harmed or injured another. Usually, professional liability claims grounded in one body of law or the other. There are various defenses available to the professional to ensure the claim against them falls in one of those categories (if any), but not both. A recent A&E decision would suggest otherwise, however.

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Avoiding Individual Liability for Corporate Acts

Incorporating a professional practice can help to avoid individual liability when a professional is acting within the course and scope of his employment. For instance, certain states provide statutory immunity to design professionals such as architects and engineers who are acting in a corporate capacity. However, individual immunity from claims may be waived if the professional makes a representation, even inadvertently, in contracts or design plans that could be construed as accepting individual accountability for negligent acts.

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Does the Implied Warranty of Habitability Extend to Architects?

First recognized in 1972, the implied warranty of habitability protects building buyers and owners from latent construction defects by permitting recourse from builders and sellers. In a case of first impression, the Illinois Appellate Court recently held that this theory does not extend to the work of an architect. The decision significantly impacts the defense of design professionals in Illinois and is worth considering for all design professionals and the attorneys who defend them.

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When Negligence = Murder: Follow-Up Report

On February 26, 2013 we posted this piece regarding an architect facing manslaughter charges arising from the death of an LA firefighter. At the time we posed this unprecedented issue: Can defective design lead to criminal liability? We’re now in a position to definitively answer that question: “yes,” given that the architect just received a one-year jail sentence.

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3-D Liability? New Printing Technology Means New Exposure

As 3-D printing continues to grow in popularity, PL Matters wonders how this technology will impact the professional malpractice community. Now 3-D users may bring any virtual object to life by directing it to a specialized printer that prints in layers of rubber, plastic, paper or other materials. Once cost-prohibitive and mainly utilized by the medical field (to create prosthetics), the machines are now available to the public for personal and commercial use. But as the machines are more readily available, what happens when the end-product causes harm or injury?

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Legal Implications of Philadelphia’s Deadly Building Collapse

On June 5 two Philadelphia buildings collapsed, killing 6 and injuring at least 13 others. Contractors were in the process of demolishing an empty building when a four-story wall unexpectedly tumbled into the neighboring Salvation Army thrift store leaving a pile of debris and a cloud of smoke. Philadelphians, and beyond, are searching for answers and debating over who is to blame.

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Up-tick in Housing Market Means Increased Risk

The good news is that April typically marks the busy season for home sales and the housing market continues to gather strength. The bad news is that increased activity may mean additional professional liability risks face architects and engineers, designers, agents, inspectors and all real estate professionals. With all signs suggesting that the housing market is picking up momentum, and that trend is expected to continue, real estate professionals will find themselves with more work but they must proceed with caution.

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When Negligence = Murder: Building Defects Result in Manslaughter Charges

An architect faces criminal manslaughter charges arising from the death of an LA firefighter who died attempting to control a blaze that engulfed the defendant architect’s multi-million dollar home. This case raises an unprecedented issue: Can defective design lead to criminal liability? Apparently, the answer is “yes” if the defect is the result of gross negligence.

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