The 22nd edition of Pillsbury's Newsletter: Perspectives on Real Estate features articles on energy consumption data reporting (AB1103 and 531), construction and risk management, new foreign tax withholding forms, chapter 9 and public-private partnerships.
On November 20, 2012, the California Contractors State License Board posted an Industry Bulletin alerting licensees and applicants alike to a recent scam involving fraudulent calls asking licensees or applicants for their credit card information over the phone in connection with renewing their licenses, obtaining continuing education credits, or taking licensing exams. CSLB Registrar Steve Sands has confirmed that at least one "unscrupulous company" has used information from the CSLB's website to contact licensees or applicants "to mislead and scam them." The CSLB confirmed that it "will never ask for credit card information over the phone, nor will they process any payment over the phone." CSLB fees are only payable through the mail via check or at CSLB headquarters via cash, check, or credit card. Moreover, there are no continuing education requirements to renew a CA CSLB license.
The CSLB confirmed that although California Business and Professions Code § 7080.5 requires it to make public the name and address of every accepted application for a license, and that it intends to continue to post this information, it could change its process if applicants continue to be preyed upon by unscrupulous companies. To read a copy of the Industry Bulletin, click here. To read additional CA CSLB 2012 Industry Bulletins, click here.
In deciding Westfield Insurance Company v. Custom Agri Systems, Inc., 2012 Ohio 4712, the Ohio Supreme Court recently held that defective construction or workmanship is not a covered "occurrence" under a commercial general liability ("CGL") insurance policy, even if the defective work was performed by a subcontractor of the insured contractor. In that case, a contractor sought defense and indemnity from its insurer related to allegations of damages arising from a steel grain bin which had been defectively constructed by a subcontractor. The insurer argued that the claims against the contractor were not for "property damage" caused by an "occurrence," or, alternatively, that the claims were removed from coverage by the policy's contractual liability exclusion.
In rendering its opinion, the court stated that faulty workmanship was not fortuitous and therefore not an accident or occurrence under a CGL policy. Because it held that defective construction was not an occurrence, the court did not address question of whether such claims were excluded by the contractual liability exclusion. The dissent, however, noted a "strong recent trend in the case law" which interprets the term occurrence to include unanticipated or unintentional damage to non-defective property resulting from faulty work. The dissent went on to criticize the majority opinion as being too broad because it foreclosed the possibility of defective workmanship constituting an occurrence under any circumstance.
Courts throughout the country are split on whether defective workmanship is an occurrence under a CGL policy. Ohio is simply latest state to weigh in on the debate. The Westfield decision will not be well-received by contractors but is likely to be celebrated by insurance companies who may rely on it in refusing to defend claims.
The replacement of the eastern span of the Bay Bridge is a process many here in the San Francisco Bay Area have had a first-hand view of, as the new span is being built next to the old span. According to Caltrans, the new span will be the longest Self-Anchored Suspension span in the world. Here CalTrans explains the fascinating process by which the weight of the new bridge is transferred from the falsework which has supported it during construction to the new suspension cable. The load transfer process is scheduled for completion this month, with the new span slated to open Labor Day 2013.