New Jersey Construction Law & Litigation
Construction Lawyers for Community Associations, Owners and Other Parties
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Experienced Trial Lawyers Can Make the Difference
Community associations and other owners that have endured leaky roofs, bad elevators, cracking walls, and sinking driveways, along with token fixes by the developer or builder, are often faced with difficult questions:
- What is a construction defect?
- How do I know which professionals to hire for a damage assessment?
- How do I know if my community is experiencing the effects of construction defects?
- Did I run out of time to file a claim?
- How much will it cost?
- Did the contractor commit fraud?
- What if the builder named a shell company as the contractor?
Our attorneys have helped associations and owners answer these questions for over 40 years. We will guide you through the difficult process of selecting experts and analyzing their reports to help you determine the value of your claim and whether it is worthwhile to pursue. At this critical time, it is essential to rely on knowledgeable and experienced attorneys, who specialize in construction defect litigation and have a track record of success.
We provide real value to our clients and offer a variety of fee arrangements to accommodate different needs. And we will always offer an initial consultation without charge and without obligation.Get in Touch
1776 on the Green
67 Park Place East, Suite 702
Morristown, New Jersey 07960
The 2021 edition of Construction Executive’s “Top 50 Law Firms” recognizes Becker in the top 25 of construction law firms nationally. Chambers USA has also recognized the firm’s Construction group every year it has published its global law firm ranking guide. A ranking in “Band 1” by Chambers indicates the very top of the field according to clients and peers.
Does Becker try every case? Absolutely not.
But when it is unavoidable, and our clients are prepared to ‘suit up,’ Becker’s New Jersey Construction Litigation & Law team is relentless in pursuit of a favorable settlement. Our reputation for fearless client advocacy encourages developers to settle construction defect cases without trial and, sometimes, to even avoid litigation altogether.
In the last ten years, our team has won more than $100,000,000 in settlements and judgments for construction clients in New Jersey. Some notable achievements include:
- $24 million-dollar settlement for Gold Coast condominium (excessive settlement, water infiltration, code compliance).
- $20 million-dollar jury verdict, including treble damages under Consumer Fraud Act and along with a verdict piercing corporate veil of the worthless nominal developer.
- $18.5 million-dollar settlement for Meadowlands condominium (stucco, stone, siding and roofing installation defects resulting in water infiltration and structural damages).
- $13 million-dollar settlement Hudson Waterfront Condominium for excessive settlement and water infiltration.
- $10 million-dollar settlement for an age-restricted community located in Clifton/Woodland Park for building deficiencies resulting in water infiltration.
- $6 million-dollar settlement for Cedar Grove condominium to pay for structural damage, mold, and insect infestation resulting from water infiltration.
- $5.3 million-dollar settlement for a high-rise Jersey City condominium that experienced damage to its parking garage, building façade, balconies, windows, doors and interior building components.
- $1.4 million-dollar settlement for an age-restricted condominium in Flemington suffering from water infiltration due to improperly installed building components and damage to concrete walkways from improper backfill. Whether you’re already facing a construction defect claim, or simply want to ensure your new project avoids that possibility, Becker’s New Jersey Construction Litigation & Law team offers you the guidance, counsel, and collaboration to fearlessly move forward.
What is a construction defect?
Generally, this is defined as a flaw in the project’s design, workmanship, or materials/systems that results in the failure of a component part of a building or structure, causing damage to a person or property and resulting in financial harm to the owner. Many defects can appear obvious to the untrained eye, while others are latent and need a trained professional to analyze.
How do I know which professionals to hire for a damage assessment?
Not sure where to find the licensed professionals needed to evaluate your project? Becker’s New Jersey Construction Litigation & Law team has them on speed dial. Our industry partners provide objective and undisputable evaluations and regularly deliver expert opinions and testimony in court. We can offer recommendations and help you build the right team to move your project (or dispute) forward.
How do I know if my community is experiencing the effects of construction defects?
It’s true that properties can have ‘personality’, but those quirks can quickly move from amusing to dangerous if left unchecked. A few indications of some more serious construction defects include:
- Water leaks and damages
- Problems with mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems
- Poor landscape and soil conditions
- Improper drainage and ponding of water
- Foundation, floor, wall and roof cracks
- Dry rot
- Structural failures
If any of these sound familiar, we invite you to contact Becker’s New Jersey Construction Litigation & Law team to discuss transition or potential construction defect issues. We’d be happy lead a thorough site evaluation of each building and structure on your property and provide a professional opinion on deficiencies that may exist.
Did I run out of time to file a claim?
Timing is critical when it comes to discovering, reporting, and preserving evidence that may be used in settlement negotiations or trial. New Jersey is subject to two laws that limit the time within which an association may commence a lawsuit.
The Statute of Limitations. This generally requires that the lawsuit be filed within six (6) years after the issuance of the certificate of occupancy.
The Statute of Repose. This essentially limits the timeframe in which a lawsuit can be filed to ten (10) years from the substantial completion of each component of the project.
This may be tolled by the “discovery rule” – meaning a date when the association knew or should have known that a defect existed – but it’s not always the case. Previously, New Jersey’s courts held that the limitations period could not commence earlier than when the owners took majority control of the board. A recent New Jersey Supreme Court decision made this approach less certain, suggesting that it is possible that the limitations period may stop tolling if the developer representatives on the board knew of the defect.
NOTE: Some of which may be completed in advance of the issuance of the first certificate of occupancy for a home or unit – and is a complete bar even if the owner or association did not know of the particular defect.
Since various components of a project are completed at various times, the Statute of Repose provides a rolling limitation, starting with the earliest completion date and continuing until substantial completion of the final component.
Confused as to how your construction project measures up to these two statutes? Let Becker’s New Jersey Construction Litigation & Law team help you clarify your next steps and move forward.
How much will it cost?
Becker’s New Jersey Construction Litigation & Law team understands that litigation can be a significant investment. From the initial site review and testing by engineering and architecture professionals, to legal depositions and up through trial, the fees and costs can be burdensome.
As such, we collaborate with our clients to establish a fee arrangement that benefits your community and incorporates various strategies to avoid, if possible, placing a hardship on your residents via special assessments. In most cases, our team is able to offer contingency arrangements, hourly pricing, blended hourly-contingency fees, as well as competitive pricing and payment plans.
It is our practice to work with communities to bring a matter to a successful conclusion while limiting financial strain. It is our intent to seek full recovery from the developer, or other responsible parties, and return the community to the quality and appearance that was promised to the owners when they bought their homes. It is our practice to work with communities to bring a matter to a successful conclusion while limiting financial strain.
Did the contractor commit fraud?
In an effort to save time and money, developers have been known to ignore the recommendations of their own experts and build projects without adequate foundations, proper building materials, or compliance with applicable building codes, standards or manufacturer’s specifications. To determine whether your construction defect was caused by more than just shoddy workmanship, a detailed investigation of the construction process from the very start of the development is necessary.
Fortunately, the law in this state provides a remedy in the situations where fraudulent practices have been confirmed. Under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, a financial recovery can include an award of punitive damages equal to three times the cost of the actual loss plus attorneys’ fees, costs and prejudgment interest.
Although such awards can be difficult to obtain, Becker’s New Jersey Construction Litigation & Law team has been successful both in settling claims with strong evidence and through jury trial. We stand ready to provide strategic legal counsel to help you navigate these difficult issues.
What if the builder named a shell company as the contractor?
“Shell” companies are a dubious practice where a developer or contractor creates an entity under which to operate a major development, but ultimately strips that entity of assets after the project is completed and sold. This allows the construction professional to distance themselves from any repercussions stemming from their incompetence and can prevent even a successful claimant from recovering against the builder.
If you find yourself facing this scenario and are feeling defeated, don’t give up! Becker’s New Jersey Construction Litigation & Law team is adept at ‘piercing’ this corporate shield, particularly in instances where the corporate form has been abused to perpetrate a fraud or injustice. No matter how complex the network of subsidiaries may be, our team is relentless in its pursuit of justice and doggedly determined to help you successfully recover your rightful financial award.