As I write this review, the Rogers Townsend Construction Law Blog has achieved number one place in this year’s Best Construction Blog popular vote. Most of the votes arrived in a flurry of activity — I expect after supporters received a “get out the vote” email. This is quite okay within the competition’s rules and helps the blog achieve finalist status, though independent judges will look at other aspects to determine the competition’s winner.
Nevertheless, I think this blog is a worthy contender, in part because of its relevant focus. The blog doesn’t try to be everything to everyone; it focuses on South Carolina construction law, and does this with sufficient depth that you can really learn important details about the rules in this state — and this knowledge certainly will be important if you are based or do any work there.
Several recent postings focus on indemnification, a topic that may seem dry — until you discover you’ve been served with a writ for work you thought you had completed some time ago, under the indemnification clause.
In general, indemnity may be defined as a “form of compensation in which a first party is liable to pay a second party for a loss or damage the second party incurs to a third party.” Rock Hill Tel. Co. v. Globe Communs., Inc., 363 S.C. 385, 389 (2005) (quoting First Gen. Servs. of Charleston, Inc. v. Miller, 314 S.C. 439, 442, 445 S.E.2d 446, 449 (1994)). The right to indemnity arises by operation of law in cases of imputed fault or where some special relationship exists between the first and second parties. Id. In other words, a right of indemnity exists whenever the relation between the parties is such that either in law or in equity there is an obligation on one party to indemnify the other, as where one person is exposed to liability by the wrongful act of another in which he does not join. Id. (citing Stuck v. Pioneer Logging Mach., Inc., 279 S.C. 22, 24, 301 S.E.2d 552, 553 (1983) (citations omitted)).
A construction professional may never care about the word indemnification…until they are sued. Suppose you are a general contractor. You have just completed a job, you’ve been paid, and you’ve moved on to your next project when you suddenly receive a summons and complaint. It seems that the owner of the completed project alleges that their air conditioning unit in the attic was not installed correctly, has leaked, and caused thousands of dollars in damage. The general contractor knows that he hired a HVAC subcontractor to install that unit and he believes the subcontractor should be held responsible for any damage. However, the owner has only sued the general contractor and not the subcontractor. How is the general contractor going to try and ensure that he doesn’t bear all the liability in the lawsuit? Enter the indemnification cause of action.
Note that the lawyers are careful to advise that you shouldn’t rely on the blog for legal advice; but clearly you will be much more informed with the knowledge you can learn here — and while the information has been designed in a state-specific format, the general principles apply wherever you operate.