Five legal cases everyone should know

An exploration of five lessons learned from the cautionary legal tales of architects and contractors

You have likely heard your attorney or insurance provider talk about the Spearin Doctrine or advise you to avoid responsibility for consequential damages. But do you understand why that is? And where did all this come from?

These concepts, which have an impact on the services you provide every day, come from case law. In the United States, our legal system is largely based on common law, a system of law built on legal precedent in the form of case law. In essence, our common law legal system—rather than relying on a complete set of statutes and other legislative materials to define all legal responsibilities and obligations—is defined by previous court decisions that have been made in cases having similarities to a present dispute.

The presentation “5 Legal Cases Everyone Should Know” was developed by members of the AIA Contract Documents Committee and AIA staff. It highlights five precedential cases to illustrate the importance of case law in our legal system, especially as it applies to architects. Each contains a story from your peers: architects and contractors who came before you and left their cautionary tale. The program will explore lessons learned from these cases, such as what to include or strike out in your contracts, how to navigate the submittal review process, how to supervise your employee’s work to avoid vicarious liability, and what projects you may be wise to reject.

This program is eligible for 1 HSW LU. Please contact Hasti Hejazi with your AIA member number and AIA Contract Documents course name to receive continuing education credit.

AIA has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice.

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