Court Upholds Ruling Over Dispute Concerning Sick Hospital

In mid-January, the Ohio Second Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling against NBBJ regarding a dispute between the architect and Miami Valley Hospital and its corporate arm devoted to the health-care sector, Premier Health Partners. In the suit, the hospital made no allegations of design negligence regarding the hospital's 12-story Heart Patient Tower, designed by NBBJ. At issue was the commercial general liability coverage under its contract with NBBJ. The dispute was triggered by an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in 2011 at the then-new facility. One of the 11 patients infected died. In her decision, Judge Mary C. Donovan wrote that NBBJ was in breach of contract because the firm failed to procure commercial general liability insurance that protected NBBJ and the hospital from responsibility for "bodily injury caused by a biological agent or bacteria." NBBJ declined to comment because litigation may be pending.

This article was revised on 2/23/2015

Proposal Would Limit Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed regulations that would place limits on commercial use of airborne drones. It is a technology that has drawn interest from, but only a few permits to, surveyors and industry firms like Trimble. The proposal, announced Feb. 15, would apply to drones weighing less than 55 lb, restrict flights to daylight hours and require that operators keep the devices within their line of sight. Drones' maximum altitude would be set at 500 ft and their top speed would be 100 mph. Operators would be at least 17 years of age, would have to pass an aeronautical knowledge test and get an FAA certificate.

FAA's plan doesn't cover "micro" drones, which weigh less than 4.4 lb; nor does it apply to model aircraft. The agency will take public comments for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) called FAA's plan "a positive first step." He added, "We need to properly balance safety, privacy and access while ensuring the United States remains at the forefront of aviation technology."

Construction Jobless Rate Continues Seasonal Fluctuation

Construction began 2015 on an upbeat note, adding 39,000 jobs in January and pushing the industry’s unemployment rate down to 9.8%—well below the year-earlier level. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest monthly employment report shows that the construction industry’s jobless rate last month fell from January 2014’s 12.3% but was up from last December’s 8.3%. The month-to-month change likely reflected the industry’s usual winter work slowdown; the BLS rates are not seasonally adjusted. All construction sectors recorded increased employment last month. Buildings construction jumped by 19,500, specialty trades firms added 13,300 and heavy-civil construction gained 5,900, BLS reported. Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, notes that “construction added more jobs than all but one sector of the economy.”