: Florida Community Association Construction Law Blog
ECONOMIC LOSS RULE EXCLUSION FOR PROFESSIONALS APPLIES TO SURVEYORS
By Alan E. Tannenbaum
In Florida, under the "economic loss rule", a party is precluded from suing a party with whom it has contracted for negligence absent personal injury or property damage. One exception carved out by the Florida Supreme Court has been for the negligence of "professionals", although the court did not specifically define what a "professional" is. In the construction context, there has been no doubt that architects and engineers are "professionals." Claims against them are not subject to the economic loss rule. But what about land surveyors?
The issue of whether land surveyors are "professionals" excluded from the economic loss rule was decided by the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal in Estate of Joanne Rocks v. McLaughlin Engineering Company, 49 So. 2d 823 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010). They are. In deciding this, the appellate court cited state statutes referring to land surveyors as professionals and relied in addition on the following attributes:
1. surveyors are engaged by clients to perform a skilled service solely under their control and competence;
2. the service performed by a surveyor is one requiring special education, training, experience and skill;
3. the typical client is not competent to perform surveying personally nor direct that it be performed in a particular way; and
4. the client/surveyor contract gives the client no power of direction and leaves performance up to the skill and expertise of the surveyor.
Shooting Fish in a Barrel The Economic Loss Rule British Petroleum's oil spill in the Gulf certainly provides ample opportunities to teach or, at this point in the semester, to test the Economic Loss Rule. In fact, it is such a great candidate for an exam hypothetical, it is like shooting fish in a barrel, if you'll pardon the expression...