Inspecting Engineers Found Personally Liable
Kegler Brown Construction Newsletter February 1, 2000
In this case, an engineering corporation, through its engineer employees, conducted a home inspection prior to its purchase. After purchasing and occupying the home, the plaintiff learned of substantial structural defects that rendered it uninhabitable. The plaintiff sued the registered engineers in their individual capacity, despite the fact that he had hired the engineering corporation. In Florida, as in many states, the fact that a registered engineer practices through a corporation or a partnership does not relieve the engineer from personal liability for negligence, therefore the court allowed the suit to proceed against the engineers in their individual capacity.
The Florida Supreme Court also ruled that the economic loss rule (which basically states that you cannot sue someone that you do not have a contract with if the alleged negligence does not result in personal injury or property damage) did not apply to claims for professional malpractice and therefore did not bar the plaintiff's suit against the individual engineers.
This case presents a personal liability risk for inspecting engineers in Florida and other states who have ruled similarly. See Moransais v. Heathman, No. 92, 199, 1999 Fla. App. LEXIS 1134, 1999 WL 462629 (Fla. July 1, 1999).