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Contractor Termination Lawsuits:
The Architect's Risks and How to Manage Them

By Bryan Hale

Once an owner declares a contractor in default of a construction contract and the contractor denies fault, litigation is nearly certain. More often than not, the ensuing litigation involves every party to the construction project, including the project architect. The legal theories underpinning the architect’s alleged liability vary depending on who is making the claim, the existence of a contractual relationship, and the foreseeability of the harm alleged. A recent trend has courts permitting claims against architects to proceed based on negligence and contract law once universally unavailable. The purpose of this paper is to help architects understand the variables, including the parties likely to sue the architect, the claims likely to be made by particular parties, the stages of a construction project most likely to foster disputes, and the legal defenses available to the architect. Architects will gain a better understanding of defensive measures that they can employ in their practices and their contracts to lessen risk, avoid liability, and limit exposure.

Bryan Hale is a partner at Goforth Hale LLC in Birmingham, Alabama, and is licensed to practice in the state and federal courts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. Since graduating from Cumberland School of Law in 2005, Bryan has focused his practice on civil litigation. He represents clients in a wide variety of cases including business, construction, and commercial disputes; professional negligence actions; and employment disputes.

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