Why Do I Teach? To Learn Something of Course!

Christopher G. Hill | Construction Law Musings | September 9, 2019

A week ago on Thursday and Friday August 29 and 30, 2019, I had the pleasure of co-teaching a two day module on Contract Administration for the Project Manager Development Program created by the Associated General Contractors of America. This was my favorite kind of class, a class for mostly young construction professionals looking to learn something practical about how contracts affect “on the ground” project management.  While I presented the “legalese” and a construction lawyer’s perspective on the legalities of construction contracting, mechanic’s liens, agency and the like, my co-presenter, Paul Stiles of The Bell Company, told war stories and gave them the benefit of his construction experience to bring this to the practical level for them.

The class covered everything from notice requirements, “killer clauses,” and preparation of claims, to a primer on arbitration/litigation, privity and payment issues.  As always seems to occur, the attendees asked questions that neither Paul or I anticipated.  Their relatively new eyes on the construction management world gave them a perspective that at least I, as a relatively cynical (yes I admit it, the Murphy’s Law governed world of construction has created a bit of cynicism) construction attorney, do not have.  As I always do, I learned from teaching.  Answering these fresh eyed questions taught me as much as imparting the information taught them.

Not only did I have to brush up on how to best explain concepts that I have internalized and know to the point I don’t have to think too much about what they mean (for instance privity) but I also had to think outside the box to answer the questions and respond to the scenarios that these folks have faced in the past or may face in the future.  Further, these teaching opportunities force me to apply the legal concepts (many of which are discussed here at Construction Law Musings) to every day situations that construction pros deal with on a daily basis.  All of the above makes me a better lawyer and counselor.

In short, I truly enjoy teaching classes, whether to young attorneys or in particular for those that I represent on a day to day basis.  I have fun on “Hawaiian Shirt Friday” as shown in the photo accompanying this post (that’s me in the back with the red floral one), but I always come away from the experience having learned something new.  Thanks to my friends at the AGC of Virginia for the opportunity.

4th Annual Midwest Construction Defect & Dispute Conference Agenda Announced

Jeff Childs | Construction Defect & Dispute Conference | January 31, 2019

The 4th Annual Midwest Construction Defect & Dispute Conference will be one that should intrigue legal and insurance professionals across the country. Set in the center of our nation in Chicago, IL and will be held at the highly recognized Loyola University Chicago.

Top professionals and experts from across the country will be presenters and in attendance. The cost of $297 will include a continental breakfast, lunch, a post conference networking reception. Attendees will be able to earn up to 6.5 CLE/CE credits through a number of interesting and anticipated topics.

Here is a look at our presenters and course descriptions:

Grant Austin is President of American Valuation in Florida. He will be speaking on Forget Stigma Damage for Your Next Construction Defect Case: Switch to “Impaired Marketability”.

This course addresses the typical roles and valuation methods of real property appraisers in construction defects litigation plus the addition of new analytical methods that will strengthen the construction litigator’s case. While appraisers are regularly retained to provide opinions on the damage or impairment to a property, their timely retention can also assist with an evaluation of many other critical elements in the construction litigator’s case. The author discusses each potential real property value impact of a construction defect (cost to remediate, delay damages, diminution in market value, marketability, stigma) and the available valuation methods. Experienced construction litigators will find new valuation methods that may prove to be valuable tools in their practice.

Les Robertson, a founding partner of Robertson & Associates in San Diego and Dermot Leech with Allianz Insurance Company in Chicago will cover Reservation of Rights in Property Damage/Construction Defect Claims.

Insurers frequently issue Reservation of Rights letters to their insureds who tender construction defect/property damage claims. Claims such as these seem to overlap and impinge on many portions of a typical CGL insurance policy. A tender of these claims commonly results in a long, verbose, overly inclusive Reservation of Rights letter. However, as can be seen from recent court rulings from around the country the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach is being questioned. In addition, the American Law Institute has recently issued a Restatement of Law, Liability Insurance which provides additional guidance for proper use of Reservation of Rights letters.

This topic will be addressed from the perspective of outside coverage counsel, claims professional, appointed defense counsel and policyholder counsel.

Reservation of Rights letters require a carrier to fairly inform its insured(s) as to why or on what basis it will be reserving its rights. From a carrier perspective a properly written reservation of rights letter will prevent waiver of coverage defenses, preserve the carrier’s right to control the defense and settlement of the tendered claim and finally to preserve the right to intervene to protect its own interests.

James Wideikis and Andrew Witik are highly regarded Chicago insurance coverage and construction defect attorneys. Their topic will be Litigating Complex Construction Defect Case When Your Client No Longer Exists.

What do you do?  How do you defend your client?  Key litigation decisions and Implementation of Defense Strategy.  First and foremost, who exactly is your designated corporate representative? These questions will be answered through real life case experience.

Alex Niederman is a Complex Claim Specialist, Casualty Claims at Ironshore Insurance, where he supervises and handles professional liability and casualty claims, with a focus on architect and engineer (A&E), design-build (DCPL), and construction defect claims. Design-Build Trends: Big Projects, Big Insurance Claims.

Design-build is becoming an increasingly utilized project delivery method.  The system continues to grow in popularity because when a single entity is contracted to provide both design and construction services on a project, the result is a streamlined delivery to the project owner, with benefits in the form of cost and time efficiency.  However, as design-build continues to become more common and prolific in the construction world, so are insurance claims arising from such projects.

This presentation will address the types of insurance policies available to design-builders, including practice-based and project-specific policies, as well as unique endorsements to those policies.  We will also discuss the typical disputes that arise on design-build projects, and how such disputes can lead to allegations against the design-builder and an ensuing insurance claim.  Then we will present a detailed overview of the design-build claims process – when and how such matters are reported to insurance carriers, the information that carriers require in order to analyze coverage on design-build claims, a carrier’s coverage analysis process, and how such claims are handled at the adjuster level.  We will also discuss recent coverage and claims trends in the design-build world.

Robert Franco is a Chicago litigator and Eugene Peterson is a construction defect expert witness and Xactimate expert who will be covering a Construction Defect Resolution Template. 

With their many years of experience they will guide you through the litigation of construction non-conformance claims. They will break down the process through understanding the trolling process, claim triage and issue identification, experts, leadership, litigation, document discovery, depositions, and trial. You will have some key takeaways to help you in your next construction defect case.

The final course will be an insightful panel of three Circuit Court of Cook County judges: Judge Jean Golden, Judge Brigid Mary McGrath, and Judge Lynn M. Egan where they will lead a unique discussion on a judges view of Complex Construction Defect Litigation – What Does It Look Like.  

They will cover aspects involving – owner/developer, architect, gc, subs, and condo associations. Frequent issues that arise could include legal issues, coverage issues, risk transfer/contractual indemnity and settlement, arbitration and mediation. Finally they will cover case management with its discovery issues, experts, dispositive motions and key trial issues – jury instruction, witnesses and exhibits. This should prove to be an excellent discussion.

The conference will then end with a networking reception where attendees and presenters will be able to mingle, ask questions, enjoy food and drink, etc.

We look forward to seeing you at the conference. Mark your calendar and get registered today!

New Speakers Added to 4th Annual Northwest CDDC

Jeff Childs | Advise & Consult, Inc. | October 31, 2018

Due to some unfortunate health issues with two of our speakers, we have had to substitute with two new speakers and topics.

David L. Mefford will address the topic of Replacement Cost Estimates vs. Reality. This course is designed to help us understand estimating, how mistakes occur, how reality increases repair costs, and how to protect clients and help them deal with unexpected repair costs.

Jeff Childs discusses the Top 5 Key Factors to Consider for More Effective Online Writing. Do you write online articles or have you thought about creating an online presence? Through this course we will better understand how the internet looks at our articles and how to write with these factors in mind to maximize our efforts and make it easier for our readers and the internet to read and understand our online articles.

With top-notch speakers and an enthusiastic crowd, it’s sure to be a good time. There isn’t a better way or time to get 6 CLE/CE credits (including 1 ethics credit) and have a great time doing it. For the cost of $147 you will get those credits, networking, knowledge as well as a delicious lunch!


Check out this awesome agenda!<-

8:30 AM – Check-in begins

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Insurance Issues Arising from Construction Defect Claims
Thomas Lether | Lether & Associates

10:05 AM – 11:05 AM
Adjusters Beware: New WA Case Law on Suits Against Claims Professionals
Betsy Gillaspy | Gillaspy & Rhode

11:10 AM – 12:10 PM
Visualizing Your Construction Defect Case for Mediation or Trial
Tyler Weaver and David Filippini | Cogent Legal

12:10 PM – 12:45 PM

12:45 PM – 1:45 PM
Replacement Cost Estimates vs. Reality
David Mefford | DLM, Inc.

1:50 PM – 2:50 PM
What Happens When Lawyers Get into Trouble and 
How to Prevent it From Happening to You
Janette Keiser | J. Keiser & Associates LLC

2:55 PM – 3:55 PM
Top 5 Key Factors to Consider for More Effective Online Writing
Jeff Childs | Advise & Consult, Inc.


November 16th, 2018 | Washington State Convention Center

Time is Running Out For 6.5 CLE Credits in New Orleans!


4th Annual Southeast Construction Defect & Dispute Conference


Come one, come all to our annual conference in the Big Easy – New Orleans October 12th! With top-notch speakers, tasty treats and an enthusiastic crowd, it’s sure to be a good time. There isn’t a better way or time to get 6.5 CLE/CE credits (including 1 ethics credit) and have a great time doing it. For the cost of $197 ($247 at the door) you will get those credits, networking, knowledge as well as a continental breakfast, delicious lunch and a post-conference reception!

Check-in and continental breakfast will start at 8:15 a.m. with the first session beginning at 8:45 a.m. The last session will end at approximately 4:25 p.m. with the reception to follow until approximately 5:30 p.m.

Check out these awesome topics!

Criminal Statutes for Contractors

How to Evaluate a Delay Claim from General and Subcontractors

Based on Changing Design and Site Conditions

Proving Damages in Construction Cases

Claims Against Architects and Engineers/Design Professionals

Ethics Challenge

Do Right to Repair Statutes “Suit” an Insurance Company’s Duty to Defend?

Wild Wild West of Louisiana Lien Law: Engaging Discussion of New Public and Private Work Acts Opinions

Friday, October 12th, 2018

Loyola University College of Law

For more conference info visit