Client Alerts & Publications

Florida Passes New Individual Liability Legislation For Design Professionals

On April 24, 2013, Governor Rick Scott approved Senate Bill 286 which will permit business entities providing professional design services to limit by contract the personal liability of their individual employees or agents who are design professionals. Effective July 1, 2013, newly created Florida Statute §558.0035 allows a “design professional” (de ned in the statute as an “architect, interior designer, landscape architect, engineer, surveyor, or geologist”) who is employed by a business entity providing professional design services to limit by contract individual liability for negligence occurring within the course and scope of a professional services contract if:

  • The contract is made between the business entity and a claimant or with another entity for the provision of professional services to the claimant;
  • The contract does not name as a party to the contract the individual employee or agent who will perform the professional services;
  • The contract includes a prominent statement, in uppercase font that is at least ve point sizes larger than the rest of the text, that, pursuant to §558.0035, an individual employee or agent may not be held individually liable for negligence;
  • The business entity maintains any professional liability insurance required under the contract; and
  • Any damages are solely economic in nature and the damages do not extend to personal injuries or property not subject to the contract.The term “business entity” is de ned in the statute to mean “any corporation, limited liability company, partnership, limited partnership, proprietorship, rm, enterprise, franchise, association, self-employed individual, or trust, whether fictitiously named or not, doing business in [the State of Florida.]”

Florida courts have long recognized that individual professionals may be held liable to third parties for negligence in the performance of their duties under a contract entered into by their employer. See e.g., Moransais v. Heathman, 744 So.2d 973 (Fla. 1999). In Moransais, the Florida Supreme Court held that:

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