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A construction project can be fraught with complications. These complications can include issues like permitting, licensing, contract negotiation, contract breaches, construction defects, and non-payment in addition to numerous others. These issues can become problematic in any construction project, from the smallest residential renovation to the largest commercial project. The attorneys at Smith Ammons have experience in representing contractors, as well as property owners, in residential and commercial matters. Whether defending or prosecuting a mechanic’s lien, litigating a construction defect issue, or dealing with any other construction related legal matter, Smith Ammons can provide representation to help you resolve your construction case.
When a structure in South Carolina is damaged due to negligent design, construction, manufacturing or repair, the owner of the structure may have a claim for construction defects. A construction defect claim could be against one or any combination of the following: architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, materials suppliers, developers, or insurance companies. A claim for construction defects must be brought within three years of when the owner knew, or should have known, of the defects, typically not to exceed thirteen years from the time of completion of the construction of the structure.
To bring a claim for construction defects in SC, the structure owner must provide the contractor with a right to cure notice, allowing thirty days for the claim to be inspected, offered to be corrected, offered to be settled or denied. The attorneys at Smith Ammons have represented property owners and contractors in litigating construction defect claims, and they can help you through your construction defect claim or defense.
A mechanic’s lien is a legal mechanism by which someone who provided materials or labor for the repair, renovation, or construction of a structure upon real estate. The person who provided the labor or materials receives a lien against the structure and the interests of the owner to secure payment for the value of the labor and/or materials provided. Reasonable attorney’s fees may be recovered from the prevailing party, but the attorney’s fees may not exceed the amount of the lien itself.
To Perfect a mechanic’s lien, the lienholder must file notice of the mechanic’s lien with the Register of Deeds or Clerk of Court in the County where the property is located within 90 days of completion of the work. To enforce the lien, the lienholder must file a petition in the Court of Common Pleas in the County where the property is located within six months from the last date materials or services were provided to the subject property.
Let the capable and experienced attorneys at Smith Ammons prosecute your mechanic’s lien or defend your property against a mechanic’s lien.
Contract disputes are relatively common problem in the business, but they can create some of the most challenging legal issues. The lawyers at Smith Ammons have successfully guided clients through the many types of contract issues.
Breach of Contract
Breach of Contract occurs when a party to a contract fails to perform a contracted obligation. To bring a claim for breach of contract, the plaintiff must show that a valid contract exists, that the Plaintiff performed his or her obligations under the contract, that the Defendant failed to perform his or her obligations under the contract, and that the Plaintiff suffered injury because of Defendant’s failure to perform his or her contractual obligations.
Legal Remedies for a Plaintiff who successfully demonstrates a breach by the Defendant include:
- Compensatory damages for actual monetary losses
- Consequential/Incidental damages for foreseeable losses
- Liquidated damages when specifically provided for in the contract
- Attorney’s fees when specifically provided for in the contract
- Punitive damages when fraud or other unconscionable actions have been taken by the Defendant
- Recission or cancellation of the contract
- Specific performance can require that the Defendant perform his or her contractual obligations when monetary damages cannot adequately compensate the Plaintiff
The skilled attorneys at Smith Ammons can help you if you have been injured by another party’s breach of contract or if you have been accused of breaching a contract.
Homeowner’s Associations are established to help property owners in a common area maintain certain community and property standards. Often HOA’s are established in single family subdivisions, condominiums, and town home complexes. While the intended to goal of HOA is to help the property owner, sometimes property owners find themselves at odds with HOA over fee assessments and collections and other disputes involving the bylaws and restricted property uses. When such disputes arise, let the experienced attorneys at Smith Ammons help you through the process.
A non-compete agreement is covenant, typically entered between and employer and employee, whereby the employee agrees not to perform his or her trade for a specified period of time after the employment relationship has ended. Non-compete agreements are generally not favored in South Carolina courts, because they limit a person’s ability to practice his or her trade. The courts strictly construe such agreements against the employer, using specific standards for enforcing the agreement against the former employee. To be enforceable, a non-compete agreement must satisfy all the following criteria:
- Necessary for the protection of the legitimate interests of the business – punishment of an exiting employee, a desire to avoid competition, or desire to retain trained employees are not legitimate interests.
- Reasonably limited in time and geography – South Carolina courts do not favor non-compete agreements that last for too long a duration or span too wide of a geographic area. These factors can vary from case to case, depending on the industry, location, and other circumstances.
- Not unduly harsh or oppressive in curtailing the legitimate efforts of an employee to earn a livelihood – In determining whether a non-compete agreement is too harsh or oppressive, the court will consider the covenant’s restrictions in time and geographic location. South Carolina courts have ruled that a non-compete covenant must not unreasonably interfere with “the right of a person to use his talents to earn a living.”
- Reasonable from a standpoint of public policy – Public Policy in South Carolina generally does not favor restricting professionals such as doctors and lawyers from providing their services to the public.
- Supported by valuable consideration – continued employment is not sufficient consideration to satisfy this requirement for a current employee. Financial gain, status improvement, increased vacation, improved work hours, or other such consideration are required. An offer of employment could satisfy this requirement for a prospective employee.
If you find yourself amid a dispute over a non-compete agreement, the attorneys at Smith Ammons have the knowledge and experience to fight for you.
If you have had damage done to your real or personal property as a result someone’s negligent or intentional act in South Carolina, you may be entitled to a claim for property damage. The statute of limitations for bringing such a claim in South Carolina is three years from the date of the actions causing the damage, unless the actor is a State or government entity, then the statute of limitations is two years. When your property has been damaged, you may be entitled to actual damages (repair costs), loss of uses damages (damages from not being able to use property) and depreciation/diminution of value damages (because the property has lost value and repairs will not bring property back to original value). The attorneys at Smith Ammons can help you to be properly compensated when your property has been damaged.
UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES
The Unfair Trade Practices Act in South Carolina is adopted from the Federal Trade Commission Act. Its purpose is to protect consumers and discourage anticompetitive behavior in the marketplace by prohibiting unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices. Practices that could be considered unfair or deceptive include inflating repair or service bills and failing to disclose known defects in products. After proving that a trade practice is unfair or deceptive, one must show that the practice impacts a public interest by directly or indirectly affecting the people of South Carolina. In addition, the practice must occur in the conduct of trade or commerce. A person harmed by unfair trade practices may be entitled to actual damages, treble damages (three times actual), and attorney’s fees. The lawyers at Smith Ammons have successfully prosecuted and defended unfair trade practice claims.
Lemon law is an area of South Carolina law that provides the legal remedy for purchasers or lessees of automobiles that are defective. Under SC lemon law, a consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement, if a vehicle does not conform to the warranty and is unable to be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts. A nonconformity is defined as a defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle. Manufactures are required to repair any nonconformity reported within the first twelve months or 12,000 miles of operation, whichever comes first. The lawyers at Smith Ammons are well-versed in South Carolina lemon law and are prepared to help you with your Lemon.