A Final Answer on E-Verify? Can it be?

We’ve monitored the federal government’s potential E-Verify requirement for nearly a year now.   After a number of delays starting in 2008 and continuing until this summer, the E-Verify requirement was finally given the green light in July 2009.

While backed by the new President and slated to take effect on September 8, 2009, there seemed to be just one more hurdle:   The litigation challenging it.

Today, AGC’s Smart Brief reports that a federal district court has ruled on the legality of the controversial E-Verify requirement, holding that the requirement is legal.

On September 8th, therefore, systems are a-go for the E-Verify requirement.

Louisiana the Greenest??? It Certainly is the Brightest

Well we may not be the most “green” state in the union; but according to Green Scene Magazine we are the most favorable and offer the best rebates on solar additions to your home.

According to the magazine the Louisiana Legislature in 2007 enacted some of the most progressive legislation in the country giving up to a 50% rebate on your taxes on solar and wind systems installed (up to $25,000 per system).  The best part is that if you reach how much you owe in taxes, then the state will send you a check for the rest. This is truly remarkable and seems almost too good to be true.

For more information See La. R.S. 47:6030 and its subparts.

This 50% savings from the Louisiana government can be lumped with the 30% by the Federal government as provided by the recent economic stimulus bill.

There are two Louisiana companies that are leading the way in this solar revolution, Gulf South Solar and South Coast Solar. These two leaders are experienced with the technology and they can aid in the paperwork regarding the refunds.

WWL recently wrote an article on the Louisiana Legislature offered refund.  According to this article the new legislation opened the door, not only to residents but to developers and third parties to get the credit. WWL describes somewhat of a lease to own system whereby you lease and pay the solar company a monthly bill until a certain amount then you simply purchase the system for a dollar.

This is an effort to help spur developers when they are planning communities in the future. Who would have ever thought that Louisiana would be a pioneer in re-useable and renewable resources. The only way that we will ever see the benefits of this legislation is to get out and take advantage of it before it is too late. So instead of complaining about the heat all the time, try making it work for you and let the Sun save you cash.

This article was originally posted on Wolfe Law Group’s topic-specific Louisiana Green Building Law Blog.

Are Chinese Drywall Losses “Uninsured?”

Late in July, “ClaimsJournal.com” published an online article titled:  “Chinese Drywall:  Builders and Subs Face Huge Uninsured Losses.”   The article’s author takes its reader through a number of hot-button issues related to the insurance coverage available to homeowners and builders for Chinese Drywall damages.

Calling the per house damages “astronomical,” the article warns that many builder and homeowner polices may exclude damages based on the pollution exclusion or the “your work” exclusion.

In the past, we’ve discussed insurance coverage issues and the pollution exclusion here at the Chinese Drywall Blog.

From our experience in dealing with homeowner and builder claims, it seems the insurance industry is positioning itself to deny coverage for contaminated drywall exposure.   But more troubling than this is that many homeowners and builders are taking this position as a matter-of-fact.

While there are certainly legal challenges to recover against insurance companies for these losses, the insurance companies face legal challenges in excluding coverage.   Homeowners and builders have two things on their side:  (a) The insurance company has the burden of proving the applicability of its exclusion; and (b) Any ambiguities will be interpreted against the insurance company.

Homeowners and Builders should not consider the exclusion of coverage as a foregone conclusion, and should place their insurer on notice of the claim.   While litigation may result in coverage applying to this loss, without a timely claim and a lawsuit to enforce the same, builders and homeowners will lose their rights.

In Louisiana, with a one-year prescriptive period ticking very quickly against drywall claims, the insurance company’s best argument against coverage is soon-to-come.

This article was originally posted on Wolfe Law Group’s topic-specific Chinese Drywall Blog.

Mechanics Lien – Is it like a Mortgage? Yes and No.

In most states, contractors and suppliers can file “Mechanics Liens,” whereby they acquire a privilege against the construction jobsite’s property.    The liens usually work like a mortgage on the property, such that it must be satisfied before a property is sold, transferred or refinanced.

While liens act a lot like mortgages, they certainly are not identical to mortgage instruments.

First, in most states, mechanics liens themselves expire.    Most states require that the contractor file a lawsuit to “enforce” or “foreclose” on the lien within a certain time period (sometimes short), to extend the life and effectiveness of a lien.   Here are some example timeframes:

In Louisiana, liens must be enforced within 1 year from filing.  In Washington, lien foreclosure is due within 8 months of filing.  In California, you must foreclose within just 90 days of filing!

Second, depending on the state, liens are given more or less “priority.”    Lien priority effects the order the instruments are paid in the event of a property sale or foreclosure.   In other words, if a property is foreclosed upon but sold for an amount less then the sum of all liens, and there are two mortgages and a mechanics lien on record, who gets paid and who doesn’t?

The answer to this question depends on your state.   In Louisiana and Washington, liens take a junior priority to mortgages and similar instruments.  In other states, however, the rules are or, depending on circumstances, can be different.    In Virginia, mechanics liens have priority over construction loan mortgages.   In Minnesota, depending on when the respective instruments are filed, a mechanics lien can take priority over mortgage-type instruments.

This article was originally posted on Express Lien’s topic-specific Construction Lien Blog.

Chinese Drywall Class Action Trial in 6 Months? Doubtful.

Recently in Chinese Drywall legal news is Judge Eldon Fallon’s goal to try the first Chinese Drywall case by the end of 2009.   While I applaud Judge Fallon for his ambition, and do believe that the issues are time-sensitive and should be litigated quickly and aggressively, I think the promise is an empty one.

Trying a Chinese Drywall class action case in 6 months is frankly impossible, and homeowners should not let this news get their hopes up.

A class action specialist in Florida, Ervin Gonzalez, was quoted in an article about Judge Fallon’s intentions saying the following:

Fast-tracking is an understatement. It’s a rocket docket. And he means business.   He wants the first case tried by the end of the year, and he wants an inspection of every home. He wants to be able to get to the bottom of the problem.

Here’s the obvious problem:  He can’t get to the bottom of the problem in the next 5 or 6 months.

The problem is complicated, and the science is in its infancy.   Leading scientist are unsure of whether the problem can be remediated, or whether full replacement of sheetrock is required.   Leading scientist are also unsure about what is actually causing the problem, and whether even replacement of the contaminated sheetrock will be enough to solve the problems.

This is not to mention some serious legal hurdles:  (1) Discovery; (2) Getting all the Defendants on the same page; (3) Identifying all the Defendants; (4) Dragging foreign manufacturers into Judge Fallon’s court.

Judge Fallon’s recent statement is sensational news, but it is false hope for the homeowners, builders and suppliers who are struggling to resolve their Chinese Drywall problems.   The only thing that has happened in his court is the allocation of attorneys fees and attorney leadership – which has nothing to do with the substantive matters.

Deadlines to file suit against builders, subcontractors and insurers are ticking away.  Homeowners, Builders and Subcontractors are all affected by these deadlines, and it’s important that they all make their claims as immediately as possible to avoid the expiration of these claims.

There are problems with class action litigation as it relates to Chinese Drywall damages.  Judge Fallon’s impossible 6-month deadline only underlines those problems.

This article was originally posted on Wolfe Law Group’s topic-specific Chinese Drywall Blog.

Lessons about LEED from Hall Winery in California

Hall Vineyards in Napa Valley is one of our favorite wineries (and for you Krewe of Cork folks, they have participated in the NOWFE’s Royal Street Stroll the past few years).

They are building a new winery in St. Helena and just announced that they have obtained Gold LEED Certification.

I wouldn’t write about it here unless there was some applicability to green building in Louisiana, and there is.

In connection with the announcement, Hall Wines published a new website dedicated to educating its visitors about the LEED certification process, and what sustainable elements of its winery qualified for certification.

The website is noteworthy for two reasons:

First, you can watch videos of the construciton process and watch a live feed of the winery from the site.  Spending a bit of time on the webpage can help Louisiana builders learn more about the LEED process, and get some ideas they can incorporate into their Louisiana green building projects.

Second, it’s interesting that Hall Wines is turning its certification into an exhibit.   They offer LEED tours at the winery, and incorporate the sustainable site into its their brand.   Perhaps a launch like Hall Wines can justify the possible increased cost of green building.

This article was originally posted on Wolfe Law Group’s topic-specific Louisiana Green Building Law Blog.

“Green Building” Senate Bill 91 Pending in Louisiana Legislature

A May 2009 press release from Louisiana Senator Neil Gautreaux’s office explains that the proposal of Senate Bill 91 gained unanimous support after a group of fifth graders testified on behalf of the legislation and urged state legislators to “go green.”

While still pending in Baton Rouge and not yet on its way to the governor’s desk, the “green building” bill is one of the more aggressive green building tax credits proposed in the nation.

Senator Gauthreaux’s office sells the bill in their press release with the following:

This tax credit, combined with the federal tax credits, will make our state a leader in incentives for the promotion of alternative energy…Besides promoting the adoption of resources that generate safe, efficient and clean energy, the tax incentives will also be a boon to economic development by creating new “green jobs.”

Summary of Senate Bill 91

Summary:  Grants a transferable tax credit until January 1, 2013 for income and franchise franchise taxes of 25% of the costs and expenses attributable to the construction or for the installation of certain qualified energy systems on and after January 1, 2009 limited to $450,000 per system.

Status:  Pending in Conference Committee

Qualifying Energy Systems:  Wind, Solar Energy, Small irrigation power, Open-lop and closed-loop biomass, geothermal energy, and more.

Read the full text of Senate Bill 91.

This article was originally posted on Wolfe Law Group’s topic-specific Louisiana Green Building Law Blog.