Becker & Poliakoff Attorney Steven B. Lesser Praises Gov. Crist’s Veto of Bill Exempting Design Professionals from Negligence Suits

Becker & Poliakoff Attorney Steven B. Lesser Praises Gov. Crist’s Veto of Bill Exempting Design Professionals from Negligence Suits

For Immediate Release
Media Contact:

Alan Penchansky
The Pen Group Communications
Tel: (305) 529-1944
email: 
alan@thepengroup.com

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL, JUNE 10, 2010 – Becker & Poliakoff, P.A. today made public a letter to Florida Governor Charlie Crist from shareholder Steven B. Lesser, head of the firm’s Construction Law Practice, praising the Governor for his veto of SB 1964, a bill that would have created an exemption for design professionals from negligence suits filed by homeowners and community associations.

Becker & Poliakoff, P.A. today made public a letter to Florida Governor Charlie Crist from shareholder , head of the firm’s , praising the Governor for his veto of SB 1964, a bill that would have created an exemption for design professionals from negligence suits filed by homeowners and community associations.

Becker & Poliakoff and attorney Lesser spearheaded the statewide campaign in opposition to the bill, organizing members of the Community Association Leadership Lobby, a condo advocacy group, to telephone and email the Governor’s office and demand that he veto the legislation. Mr. Lesser also published an Op/Ed in the Sunday, May 16 Orlando Sentinel in which he detailed the reasons the bill should not be enacted.

The bill would have taken away the rights of property owners to sue engineers, architects and other design professionals for economic damages caused by their negligence. The exemption from liability also would have applied to a wide variety of government projects including roads, parks and museums.

The Governor’s veto letter for SB 1964 noted that the bill would grant unique privileges to design professionals. Other professionals, including accountants, doctors, and lawyers, cannot similarly limit their professional duty of care.

“An error in design may create significant economic damages to both business and homeowners,” the Governor’s letter stated. “I am concerned this bill fails to provide any alternate remedies and shifts the losses for design defects to consumers.”

In his letter to Governor Crist, Mr. Lesser noted, “By vetoing this bill, you protected Floridians who rightfully expect all professionals to be accountable for their work. An error by a design professional can be devastating to homeowners… In addition, with major infrastructure projects under way in the state, local governments (and in turn, taxpayers) would have also paid the price for neglect by design professionals.”

The full text of Mr. Lesser’s letter appears below:

 

The Honorable Charlie Crist
Governor
The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Re: Veto of Senate Bill 1964

Dear Governor Crist:

I am writing to thank you for and applaud your veto of Senate Bill (SB) 1964. Your veto message strongly stated the uniquely harmful effects caused by limiting the liability of design professionals.

By vetoing this bill, you protected Floridians who rightfully expect all professionals to be accountable for their work. An error by a design professional can be devastating to homeowners who rely on architects and engineers to safely design their homes and improve their property. In addition, with major infrastructure projects under way in the state, local governments (and in turn, taxpayers) would have also paid the price for neglect by design professionals.

In an alert sent to more than 4,000 condominium and homeowner associations that our firm represents throughout Florida, we notified board members and other residents that they owe you their thanks for standing up for the people.

I must admit that I am personally gratified by your veto. I am the attorney who helped establish the economic loss doctrine in Florida while representing homeowner Phillipe Moransais in the Florida Supreme Court case, Moransais vs. Heathman , 744 So. 2d 973 ( Fla. 1999). That decision confirmed years of well-established legal principles making design professionals accountable for their own negligence, like all other professionals such as lawyers, physicians and accountants.

Thanks to your veto of SB 1964, all professionals in Florida must maintain their professional duty of care to their patients, clients, and customers.

Sincerely,

Steven B. Lesser
Board Certified Construction Attorney
Chair, Construction Law Practice Group

About Becker & Poliakoff
Becker & Poliakoff is a diverse commercial law firm with more than 125 attorneys in 13 Florida offices, New York City, New Jersey, Nassau (Bahamas), Prague and affiliated international offices. Celebrating its thirty-seventh (37th) year of serving clients, the firm has seven primary areas of practice: Real Estate, Construction, Community Association, Customs & International Trade, Commercial Litigation, Corporate & Securities, and Government Law & Lobbying.