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Subject: Florida Canal pipe erosion
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Author Messages
VictorD1
(Florida)

Posts:5


08/29/2021 9:07 AM  
When our association was built in 2004 we had canals running in front of our entrance. The permits that were drawn to allow us to put a road leading into the canal called for Reinforced Contract. What was put in was corrigated tubing. Now, 17 ears later the tubing has collasped and the county has said that the HOA is responsible for the repair and replacement. The inspector, back in 2004 signed off on the permit, stating that it had passed what the permit called for. It did not. The cost of replacing all that has collasped is in the range of $300,000 to $500,000 and this will have to be born by the 86 homes in this community.

My question to this forum is: Has any other community experienced this and what was their outcome?

AugustinD


Posts:1585


08/29/2021 9:54 AM  
VictorD1,

First, how come you are not going after the contractor who installed the corrugated tubing instead of reinforced concrete, with said reinforced concrete being required by the permit?

Second, I think what you are really asking is: What are the chances of the HOA prevailing in a lawsuit against the city because the city appears to have improperly issued a permit, due to a city inspector's alleged negligence?

For discussion of litigation of this nature, try googling on the following set of words:

"negligence" "sue" "permit" "inspector"

See for example:

https://www.mikameyers.com/news/article/building-inspector-not-liable-for-improperly-constructed-residence

https://scholarship.law.campbell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1302&context=clr

In the courts, the main question that arises seems to be whether there is a certain "duty" owed by the city (via its inspector's activities) to a land or building owner. The courts seem to say, "Nope, there is no such duty that would allow a land or building owner to prevail in a lawsuit against a city for negligence by its inspectors." But I have not checked Florida case law. Post back if you want some Florida case law.

I am posting to help prepare your HOA board for a meeting with an attorney. The more preparation you have, the less the HOA may end up paying the attorney.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:17710


08/29/2021 12:39 PM  
If the road is private, then regardless if the inspector was careless or not, the Association has the responsibility of maintenance and repair of the road (which should have had money set aside for in the reserves).

You can certainly check legal options to try and recoup some or all of the repair costs but these things can be very costly with zero guarantee of results.

Has other communities experienced a repair that wasn't planned for and expected?
Yep. Outcomes that I can recall have been loans (with increase in assessments to pay for the loan), special assessments and (worst case) bankruptcy followed by receivership to pay the debts.
VictorD1
(Florida)

Posts:5


08/31/2021 11:07 AM  
The road is not private. It is owned by the county.
VictorD1
(Florida)

Posts:5


08/31/2021 11:08 AM  
Our association does have an attorney but she says we are responsible for the road. Please check for Florida Law.
LoriM15
(Florida)

Posts:29


08/31/2021 11:17 AM  
Have you looked at the orignal plat for the subdivision? It will tell you whether or not the road is public or private. The plat and the land deeds will show who has responsibility for the road.

The main road may be public, but it sounds like the road that goes over the pipe, into your neighborhood, is a private road that you are responsible for. My community in Florida has a road like that - open to the public but it's actually a private road and we are responsible for maintenance and replacement.

Your lawyer may have looked at the land records (we can find ours online at the county clerk's office) and determined that it is a private road. In that case you don't have any choice. And if the developer was the one that built the roads originally, you might have a case against them for substandard construction, but depending on how long it's been that may not be easy.
LoriM15
(Florida)

Posts:29


08/31/2021 11:17 AM  
Have you looked at the orignal plat for the subdivision? It will tell you whether or not the road is public or private. The plat and the land deeds will show who has responsibility for the road.

The main road may be public, but it sounds like the road that goes over the pipe, into your neighborhood, is a private road that you are responsible for. My community in Florida has a road like that - open to the public but it's actually a private road and we are responsible for maintenance and replacement.

Your lawyer may have looked at the land records (we can find ours online at the county clerk's office) and determined that it is a private road. In that case you don't have any choice. And if the developer was the one that built the roads originally, you might have a case against them for substandard construction, but depending on how long it's been that may not be easy.
AugustinD


Posts:1585


08/31/2021 7:29 PM  
I am not an attorney. The following is my layperson's sound bite examination of the case law addressing the OP's question about whether a city inspector and city in the state of Florida may be liable for an improper permit.

The specific issue Florida courts (and likely all courts nationwide) appear to consider is:

What duty, if any, do city inspectors in Florida owe an individual citizen?

For Florida, and speaking only as a layperson, I think the most important case law on this is probably:

Trianon Park Condominium v. City of Hialeah, 1985, Florida Supreme Court, https://law.justia.com/cases/florida/supreme-court/1985/63115-0.html

From the Trianon decision, as quoted in the 2011 (non-binding) decision at https://cases.justia.com/federal/district-courts/florida/flmdce/8:2011cv01106/258391/25/0.pdf?ts=1428884954

"The government." which includes Counties of Florida, "has no responsibility to protect... or ensure the quality of buildings that individuals erect or purchase."

From this 2020 non-binding decision, https://cases.justia.com/florida/fourth-district-court-of-appeal/2020-19-1537.pdf?ts=1591801694 :
In Trianon, a tort suit, a plurality of the Florida Supreme Court answered the following certified question in the negative: "Whether a governmental entity may be liable in tort to individual property owners for the negligent actions of its building inspectors in enforcing provisions of a building code enacted pursuant to the police powers vested in that governmental entity.”


An attorney would have a lot more to say on this (doh).
VictorD1
(Florida)

Posts:5


09/03/2021 4:15 PM  
Thank you for your reply. It is most helpful. All the pipes in the canal outside of our development are failing and the county says we are on the hook for repair. The original platt map shows we are not. Also the original permit called for Reinforced Concret Pipes but the inspected allowed the developer to put it thin corregated pipes that are all now failing;(and the inspector signed off as having be completed correctly); inside and outside of our development. We are looking at least several millions of dollars in repairs; maybe even more. We are only 86 homes. We are looking at options at this time. You help is greatly appreiated.

Vic Diaz
HOA Board Director
VictorD1
(Florida)

Posts:5


09/03/2021 4:16 PM  
Thank you for your reply. We have looked at those documents.

Vic
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