Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Issues Decision Regarding Statute of Repose

On November 3, 2020, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued an important decision concerning the interpretation and application of the Statute of Repose. (The Statute of Repose bars claims asserted more than 6 years after an improvement to real estate is substantially completed or opened for use.) Donovan Hatem submitted an Amici Curiae brief to the Court on behalf of ACEC/MA and AIA/MA, representing the interests of the design professional community.

In the case, D’Allessandro v.

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The Design & Construction Management Professional Reporter: July 2020


“Florida Court Rules Architects Can Be Liable To Contractors For Negligence”
By: Michael Robertson

“Massachusetts High Court Rules that Consent to Settle Provisions in Professional Liability Policies are Enforceable”
By: Jon C. Cowen, Esq.

“District Court of Massachusetts Judge Certifies Question Concerning Statute of Repose Applicability to SJC”
By: Catherine Maronski

“Vigor Works Decision Demonstrates Certain Risks for Designers and Contractors in Design-Build Arrangements”
By: Jennifer Lincoln,

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David Hatem published in Tunnel Business Magazine

David Hatem was published in the June issue of Tunnel Business Magazine. His article, titled “Improving Risk Allocation on Design-Build Subsurface Projects,” addresses some root causes that have lead to the increasing concerns surrounding fixed-price contracting and how improving your risk allocation can help the efficiency of Design-Build projects.  To read the entire article, click here.

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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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Article Authored by Jon Cowen Highlighted in ACEC/MA Winter 2020 Insights

Jon Cowen’s article on the recent SJC decision on consent to settlement was recently highlighted in the ACEC/MA quarterly newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. You can also view the original post here.
Jon also hosted a Roundtable webinar in conjunction with ACEC/MA highlighting major points in the case and how it affects Design Professionals. Click here, to view the presentation pdf.

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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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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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The Design & Construction Management Professional Reporter: May 2019

Inside This Issue:
“Protection Under A ‘No Damages For Delay’ Clause In Contract Between Contractor and City May Not Be Extended To Third-Party Architecture Firm”
By: Shaun Loughlin
“Designers Utilizing Drones in Development Require Plans for Regulatory Compliance and Risk Management”
By: Jennifer A. Lincoln
“Florida Appeals Court Finds Consequential Damages Waiver Provision Valid in Design Contract”
By: Catherine A. Maronski
To read our May 2019 issue,

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The Design & Construction Management Professional Reporter: Summer 2018

Inside This Issue:
“A Project Manager May Owe a Duty of Care to a General Contractor Without Privity of Contract”
“No One Would Buy the House: Tennessee Court Holds That Defendant Has Burden of Demonstrating Cost of Repairs to Damaged Real Property in Certain Circumstances”
By: Jennifer A. Lincoln
“Practice Tips for Engineers Facing Ethical Dilemnas”
“U.S. District Court Finds “Faulty Workmanship” Exclusion in Professional Liability Policy Precludes Coverage for $894,671.97 Award”

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The Design & Construction Management Professional Reporter: April 2018

Inside this Issue:
Colorado Court of Appeals Rules On Implementation Of Settlement Setoff
By: Joseph M. Gesker
Federal District Court Dismisses Cross-Summary Judgment Motions in Copyright Action
By: Z. Michael Gu
Massachusetts Appeals Court Reverses Dismissal of Complaint Under Anti-Slapp Statute
Penzel: Missouri Court of Appeals Applies Spearin and Modified Total Cost Damages in Two Instances of First Impression
By: Jennifer A. Lincoln
Recent Case Highlight: Third Party Claims
By: Brian C.

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The Design & Construction Management Professional Reporter: December 2017

Inside this Issue:
Design-Build & Public-Private Partnerships: Managing Cost Overrun Risk for Project Owners On Infrastructure Megaprojects
By: John Reilly P.E., C.P.Eng. and David J. Hatem, PC, Esq.
Cost overrun risk for owners has been a significant concern, prompting development of a number of best practices to more realistically identify and quantify risks that impact cost and schedule on megaprojects and to prudently allocate those risks among project participants.
Design-build (DB) and public-private partnership (P3) projects present owners with the opportunity to transfer substantial design and construction risks to private sector participants.

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Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency Considerations In Design: Professional Liability Risk Issues for Consulting Engineers

By: David J. Hatem, PC
Climate change, sustainability and resiliency (CCSR) considerations are increasingly becoming important in the design process. Project owners are being presented and challenged with a range of  legally permissible decisions regarding design options reflecting greater or less sensitivity to CCSR considerations. That field of options and range of corresponding owner decisions present professional liability risk issues for consulting engineers.
Read the entire article on page 1 in the Fall edition of ACEC Insights.

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California Legislature Modifies Indemnity Obligations for Design Professionals

By Gwen P. Weisberg, Esq.

The California Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 496 which significantly modifies California Civil Code section 2782.8 (“Code”). The Code, as modified January 1, 2011, provided that any design professionals entering into a public contract or contract amendment had a duty to defend a public agency under an indemnity agreement and pay the public agency’s costs of defense associated with the design professional’s negligence, recklessness or willful misconduct; there was no limitation on the payment of the costs of defense. The Code provided further that all contracts and all solicitation documents between a public agency and design professional were “deemed” to incorporate those indemnity and defense requirements by reference.

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Update: Maryland Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal in Duty of Care Case

By Gwen P. Weisberg, Esq.

In the April 2016 edition of the Design & Construction Management Professional Reporter, Donovan Hatem LLP reported that the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, Maryland’s intermediate appellate court, issued a ruling that, in the absence of a contractual relationship on a public construction project, a design professional does not owe a duty of care to a contractor for purely economic losses. The Court declined to apply a “privity equivalent” analysis or impose an extra-contractual duty on the design professional since, as is the case with design-bid-build contracts, both the design professional and the general contractor were sophisticated businesses which had ample opportunity to define and allocate their risks in their contracts with the government owner.

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Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency: Design Professional Roles and Risks

By David J. Hatem, PC

Climate Change, Sustainability, and ResiliencyThe need for design professionals to take climate change, sustainability, and resiliency (“CCSR”) into consideration in project design is growing. Of equal importance is the aspirational goal of educating owners to adopt CCSR objectives in project programs. These objectives need to be achieved in a process that adequately accounts for the management of design professional risks.

Roles in the Design Development Process

Design professionals, through their professional skill, acumen, and experience, provide services (including design) to their clients (typically private and public owners, and sometimes contractors and others) in making recommendations as to how to design a project that will achieve the programmatic objectives of their clients. Those recommendations typically emerge from studies that the design professional provides to its client. The scope and quality of those options and recommendations derive from the scope of services that the client engages the design professional to perform.

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The Design & Construction Management Professional Reporter: June 2017

Inside this issue:

Massachusetts Federal District Court Applies Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b) Heightened Standard of Pleading to Negligent Misrepresentation Claim

By Molly E. Manson, Esq.

Good Neighbor Design Practices: How Prudent Design Decision-Making Can Increase Project Success and Limit Professional Liability Exposure

By David J. Hatem, PC and Molly E. Manson, Esq.

Construction Control Affidavits and the Importance of Defining Design Professional Scope of Work

By Bryan R. Wieland, Esq.

Recent Case Highlights Important Business Lesson

By Brian C. Newberry, Esq.

Massachusetts Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal of Complaint Against Design Professionals Based Upon the Three-Year Statute of Limitations

By Patricia B. Gary, Esq.

Divergent Outcomes in Massachusetts Cases Demonstrate the Effect of a Comprehensive Bar Against Damages in a Subcontract

By Jennifer A. Lincoln, Esq.

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