The Carolina AGC has put together a coalition opposing a Senate-passed bill that would make it much more difficult to take legal action against designers. Senate Bill 435, which passed the Senate and now is in the House Select Committee on Tort Reform, would make it much more difficult to take legal action against architects or engineers.
Under the proposal, before anybody could file a malpractice suit against an architect or engineer, a fellow architect or engineer holding the same type of license and practicing in the same area of practice would first have to certify in writing that the plaintiff’s proposed litigation had merit. More specifically, the plaintiff would have to certify in the complaint that the retained expert had reviewed all the available documents and was willing to testify that the designer in question had in fact breached the applicable standard of care. This would include third-party claims and cross claims as well.
CAGC says it is often difficult to find an architect or engineer who is willing to take such action against a peer, to say nothing of testifying that there had in fact been malpractice before all the facts and evidence are fleshed out in discovery. Thus, this proposal would put up a significant and costly hurdle just to initiate the civil action against a designer.
The effect of SB 435 would be far-reaching for anybody who needed to take legal action against services provided by an architect or engineer, including local and state government, retailers, homeowners, contractors, subcontractors and building owners. Physicians are the only other group granted this type of protection. There is no justification to impose these hurdles on claimants seeking relief in any other type of case. CAGC requests industry leader contact members of the House Select Committee on Tort Reform to urge them to oppose the controversial SB 435 in this short legislative session. Members of the committee are listed here.