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…)

The Louisiana Public Works Act prohibits “no damage for delay” clauses in contracts for publicly bid projects. Recently, the State of Louisiana tested the boundaries of that prohibition by including a provision in a public contract that limited the contractor’s recovery of delay damages to situations where there was a complete stoppage of work solely attributable to the fault of the public entity/owner.  The Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal examined this provision and concluded that it was an impermissible attempt by the State to limit the contractor’s ability to recover delay damages to specific circumstances narrower than allowed in the Public Works Act.  (more…)