Negotiating Construction Liability Claims: Architects, Engineers, and Other Design Professionals

Evolving Theories of Liability and Defenses, Minimizing Risk Through Contract Provisions and Project Documentation

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This CLE course will provide counsel with a review of the scope of risks facing architects, engineers, and construction design professionals, discuss recent trends and developments in theories of liability and defenses, and provide proactive approaches to minimize the risk of liability through effective contract provisions and project documentation.


Innovations in project delivery models, including design/build, building information modeling, integrated project delivery, and green construction, have presented significant new challenges for design professionals and a varied landscape of potential pitfalls and claims.

Recent trends in the expansion of liability claims include an increase in fiduciary claims against architects and engineers. Claimants carefully parse the design professional's engagement letter for language that may be used to imply a fiduciary relationship.

Generally, third-party tort claims against design professionals for defective design are precluded by the economic loss rule. However, applying the economic loss doctrine to the construction arena is evolving, and court interpretation of the rule and its exceptions vary significantly from state to state.

Through careful contract drafting and negotiations, counsel can identify and minimize certain risks by clearly defining the scope of professional services, limiting liability to third parties, disclaiming warranties, requiring additional insured endorsements, and attempting to limit contract damages.

Listen as our authoritative panel of construction practitioners looks at the scope of risks facing architects, engineers, and construction design professionals and discusses recent case law developments in theories of liability and defenses. The panel will impart practical approaches to minimize the risk of liability through effective contract provisions and project documentation.



  1. Overview of scope of risks in various project delivery methods
    1. Design/build
    2. BIM
    3. IPD
    4. Green/sustainable
  2. Theories of liability
    1. Contractual
    2. Tort
    3. Breach of fiduciary duties
    4. Third-party beneficiaries
    5. Trends in the expansion of liability
  3. Defenses
    1. Economic loss doctrine
    2. Statute of limitations/repose
    3. Comparative negligence
    4. Trends in liability defenses
  4. Minimizing risk through contractual and project documentation


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • How have project delivery models that integrate design professionals into the construction process impacted the scope of design professional liability?
  • What case law developments have resulted in the adoption of a fiduciary duty obligation for design professionals?
  • How is the economic loss doctrine being applied in the construction defect arena?
  • How can design liability for construction claims be minimized through strategic project documentation?


David M. Adelstein

Kirwin Norris

Mr. Adelstein represents general contractors, subcontractors, design professionals, developers, associations,...  |  Read More

Broghammer, John
John D. Broghammer

Sims Lawrence & Arruti

Mr. Broghammer specializes in insurance coverage disputes and the representation of design professionals. His practice...  |  Read More

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Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. All formats include course handouts.

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