Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response and Resources

As the world continues to deal with uncertainties surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, Donovan Hatem is working collaboratively with one another and our clients to adapt quickly to unprecedented challenges. However, our commitment to our clients and our communities remains the same.
Below is a wide range of content pertaining to COVID-19 that we will be regularly updating. Please see the information below and contact us if you have further questions.

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Jon Cowen highlighted in Mass Lawyers Weekly cover article on case of first impression before Supreme Judicial Court

Mass Lawyers Weekly highlighted the recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision holding that the state’s Lis Pendens statute mandates an award of appellate attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party on a special motion to dismiss:
DeCicco makes clear that there is risk to litigants who are of a mind to tie up pieces of real estate in the hopes of negotiating a better deal, said the defendant’s attorney, Jon C. Cowen of Boston.

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Donovan Hatem Client Entitled to Appellate Attorney’s Fees against Frivolous Claim of Title

On May 11, 2020, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided a matter of first impression, holding that the state’s Lis Pendens statute mandates an award of appellate attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party on a special motion to dismiss. The Lis Pendens statute, M.G.L. ch. 184, section 15, provides a mechanism for persons with a legitimate claim to title or use of real property to record a notice with the registry of deeds, putting the world on notice of its claim.

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Donovan Hatem files Amicus Brief with Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Urging Court to Uphold Statute of Repose

On April 14, 2020, Donovan Hatem, LLP filed an Amicus (friend of the court) brief with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) in the matter of D’Allessandro v. Lennar Hingham Holdings, LLC (, case number SJC-12891)  The brief was filed on behalf of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC) and the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA/MA).
In this case, the SJC will decide an issue concerning the application of the Statute of Repose to a multi-phase condominium development. 

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March Roundtable: Consent to Settlement: A Review of the Recent Supreme Judicial Court Decision

Jon Cowen gave an in-depth discussion on the Rawan v. Continental Casualty Co. case, recently issued by the Supreme Judicial Court, and how it affects the design community.
Topics included:

  • Protection of design professionals’ reputational interests
  • Impact on the handling of liability claims by professional liability insurers
  • Best practices in responding to claims while maximizing insurance coverage

For a copy of the presentation, 

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Donovan Hatem Clients Prevail!

The Donovan Hatem litigation team was able to achieve a favorable result for our clients, Blue Harvest Fisheries and Bregal Partners, clearing a path for Blue Harvest to close on a $19.3 million dollar transaction involving the purchase of 15 fishing vessels. Richard and Raymond Canastra say the reason they withdrew their competing offer to buy 15 of Carlos Rafael’s groundfish vessels, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, is because the lawsuit filed by Donovan Hatem on behalf Blue Harvest Fisheries scared off their backers.

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January Roundtable – A Look Back at What’s Ahead: A Review of 2019 and recent cases impacting Design Professionals

This new year to look back at what’s ahead!

Join us Wednesday, January 29, 2020,  for this timely case study presentation focused on common legal issues faced by design professionals including:

  • Statute of Limitations
  • Duty to Defend
  • Indemnification
  • Construction Control Affidavits

Jon C. Cowen, Partner, Donovan Hatem LLP


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Massachusetts SJC Rules “Consent to Settle” Provisions Enforceable in Professional Liability Insurance Policies

by Jon C. Cowen
On December 16, 2019, in the case of Rawan v. Continental Casualty Company, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued an important decision affirming the right of design professionals, and their insurers, to include a “consent to settle” provision in professional liability policies. Donovan Hatem, LLP had filed a so-called amicus (friend of the court) brief in the case, on behalf of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC/ MA) and the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA/MA).

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“Fixed Price Affects Engineers Too!” David Hatem Published in Latest Engineering News-Record

In his letter to the editor, David discusses how a previously written article, “Fixing Construction’s Fixed-Price Condundrum,” highlighting that fixed-price procurement used on design-build and P3 projects negatively impacts contractors, has major significance for design professionals as well. David argues that liability issues arising for architects and engineers working on projects with design-build and P3 delivery methods with fixed-price procurement combined with increased unreasonable and imbalanced contractual risk allocation will render these project delivery methods unsustainable.

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David Hatem to Speak at ACEC/NHDOT’s 6th Annual Winter Technical Meeting on Design-Build

David Hatem will be speaking at ACEC/NHDOT 6th Annual Winter Technical Meeting on January 10, 2020. This year’s theme is Design-Build.
David will discuss the Pitfalls of Design-Build as well as participate on a panel exploring Design-Build in New Hampshire.

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October 2019 Roundtable: Design-Build – Professional Liability Risks for Design Professionals

These days, nearly half of the nation’s projects are delivered using the design-build method. It is projected to increase by 18 percent by 2021. There are perceived advantages: The Owner manages only one contract, the engineer and contractor work together as a team, and it is perceived that there are fewer negligence claims against the engineer.
Not true. The number of claims against the engineer is increasing and represents a significant concern for the profession.

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The Design & Construction Management Professional Reporter: July 2019

Inside This Issue:
“Changing Professional Liability Practice Insurers: Perils for Consulting Engineers Involved in Design-Build Projects”
By: David J. Hatem, PC
“The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Reaffirms Ruling that the Statute of Repose Permanently Bars All Claims”
By: Gwen P. Weisberg
To read our July 2019 issue, please click here.

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September 2019 Roundtable: State of the Union – Design Professional Education

Join us on Thursday, September 5, 2019, as David Hatem leads a discussion with top industry educators to explore the status of education for design professionals.
Topics include:

  • Current trends, including admissions processes, areas of concentrations, adequacy of supply of talent
  • Establishing diversity in the industry through the student body
  • NAAB, P.E and other relevant licensing requirements
  • Current curriculums and their impact
  • New ways of teaching and expanded educational offerings,
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June 2019 Roundtable: I Really Should Patent That!

Intellectual property impacts every industry, including architects, engineers and related creative professions. New technologies and discoveries are changing the ways that we design and build our roads, bridges and plants. Innovations are making our buildings more energy efficient. New 3D printing and additive manufacturing techniques are being scaled and applied to the construction of concrete structures while advanced composites are being retrofitted to strengthen deteriorating supports and foundations.
Securing intellectual property – patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets –

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May 2019 Roundtable: The Good, the Bad and the Here We Go Again

In 2018, the Design and Construction industry was very busy.  This is great, but in our review not all the news is good.  There are topics of interest to discuss from 2018 that impact design professionals in 2019.
Join us on Thursday, May 2nd as Sue Yoakum leads this discussion and reports on what we learned last year, and how your services may be impacted in 2019, how to include if good, how to avoid if bad and how to get off the “here we go again”

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April 2019 Roundtable: Contract Provisions and Relevance to Claims and Defenses

To adequately manage risks in the design and construction phases of projects, professionals need to understand how contracts provisions can affect the performance of services and liability exposure.

Join us on Thursday, April 18th to hear Donovan Hatem Attorneys Brian Newberry and Eric Howard discuss the important role that contract documents play in providing professional services and how best to anticipate and plan for disputes and conflict management.

Topics include:

  • Pre-Bid
  • Standard of Care
  • Ownership of Documents
  • Indemnification
  • Limitation of Liability
  • Claims and Dispute Resolution

And more!

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NY April 2019 Roundtable: The Good The Bad and The Here We Go Again

In 2018, the Design and Construction industry was very busy.  This is great, but in our review of 2018, not all the news is good.  There are topics to discuss of interest from 2018 that impact design professionals in 2019.  Such topics include; standard of care, indemnity, limitation of liability, fiduciary duty, personal liability, and claims arising from construction costs and schedule delays.
Join us on Thursday, April 11th as Sue Yoakum leads this discussion as well as report what we learned in 2018,

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March 2019 Roundtable – Do Design Professionals Own the Risk of Climate Change?

Join us on March 6th to learn how climate change relates to the professional standard of care, and how effective risk management strategies incorporate resilience measures into design.
Our panel and topics include:

  • Patricia B. Gary
    Patricia will discuss how climate change is redefining professional liability risks, the limitations of FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps to identify flood risk, how this relates to the professional standard of care, and why new modeling tools inform best practices.
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September Roundtable: The Eternal Triangle- Constructor Claims Against the Owner: Design Professional “In the Middle” or “Front and Center”?

Consider this relatively simple hypothetical (but very real and frequent) claim scenario:
The Constructor on a design-bid-build project asserts claims against the project owner for substantial additional costs and delays allegedly due to (a) design errors and omissions and (b) owner failure to pay for contract and extra work, and interference with the Constructor’s performance of the Work. (Assume all of (b) is unrelated to alleged performance deficiencies of the Owner’s Design Professional.) The project design was prepared by the Design Professional,

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Mediation for Design Professionals: Mediator Perspectives

Preparing for a dispute involving liability claims requires careful planning and consideration. Learn whether a dispute is “right” for mediation and get an insider perspective from a panel of experienced mediators. This program will offer recommended steps for a successful mediation with a focus on design professionals, including how to effectively present positions, issues to consider during preparation, and creative solutions to reach a resolution. Along with providing the ingredients for a successful mediation, the program will also address how to reduce time and expense and how success should ultimately be defined in the mediation process.

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