A New Jersey court recently reversed a variance issued by a zoning board to a building designed to achieve LEED Gold certification.  The owner of the planned office building sought and obtained site plan approval and a height variance from the zoning board.  Among other things, the zoning board found that the landscaping plan “conserves natural resources and prevents degradation of the environment,” that the site plan fulfilled planning goals of reducing impervious coverage, and that achieving the LEED Gold standard for energy use, recycling and waste disposal “promotes the [land use law’s] purpose of promoting utilization of renewable energy resources.” (more…)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has issued an important opinion that is good for contractors making claims on general liability policies, and not so good for the insurers issuing those policies.  Specifically, the Eleventh Circuit reversed the District Court’s decision in favor of the insurer, and directed that judgment be entered in favor of the contractor establishing that the insurer was obligated to satisfy a $350,000 judgment entered against the contractor and in favor of the property owner in a separate lawsuit. (more…)

OSHA recently finalized revisions to its recordkeeping rule that have greatly expanded the requirements for reporting work-related fatalities and severe injuries. The new rule, which becomes effective January 1, 2015, requires that all employers under OSHA jurisdiction report all fatalities, in-patient hospitalizations, amputations and injuries that result in the loss of an eye. This is a major expansion from the previous rule, which exempted employers with fewer than 10 employees or specifically identified low hazard industries (such as retail, service, finance, insurance or real estate industries) from this reporting requirement. Now, if an employer is covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, it must follow the reporting guidelines. (more…)