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Court Denies ‘Not an Architect’ Argument

Monday, September 21, 2015

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A botched renovation project in the Bahamas has left the designer behind it claiming he is “not a professional.”

A Manhattan-based man attempted to dismiss a malpractice suit brought by a former client by arguing he wasn’t a licensed architect, according to reports and court documents.

© / mihalec

The clients, Henry and Karen Silverman, were led to believe Yianni Skordas, of Skordas Design Studio Inc., was a licensed professional architect, court documents allege.

Yianni Skordas, of Skordas Design Studio Inc., claimed he is not liable for a shoddy renovation project because he is simply “not a professional architect.”

The Manhattan Supreme Court Judge disagreed.

“Defendants who hold themselves out as licensed professionals when they are not may nonetheless be liable for malpractice,” Judge Saliann Scarpulla wrote in her opinion Sept. 4, ordering Skordas to face trial.

The Case Details

The designer had been hired by businessman Henry Silverman and his wife, Karen, to oversee an $8 million addition to their estate in Nassau, Bahamas.

The Silvermans were led to believe Skordas was a licensed architect, court documents say.

The parties’ contract, signed in April 2014, indicated that Skordas would perform “traditional architectural services...coordinat[ing] all architectural, structural, MEP, and design drawings,” the court documents stated.

© / piccaya

The case revolves around a renovation project in the Bahamas, where the Silvermans say Skordas built a "jail-like fence around the property," and installed a "door to nowhere."

In addition to agreeing to act as an architect, the Silvermans said Skordas agreed also to act as the owner’s representative and project manager for the renovation which included extensive work to the existing 14,000-square-foot residence, as well as construction of a guest house and staff residence.

'Door to Nowhere'

However, the couple alleges Skordas charged the couple $145,000 and performed shoddy work.

The man “was responsible for many construction defects, including using inferior materials, installing a ‘jail-like fence around the property,’ constructing a ‘door to nowhere,’ and for failing to maintain proper records or make plans for some of the materials purchased,” the plaintiffs alleged in the complaint.

The Silvermans further alleged that he was “dishonest during their relationship,” retaining money intended for contractors.

2 Claims Dismissed

The complaint against Skordas alleged breach of contract, professional malpractice, negligence per se, breach of fiduciary duty and conversion.

While he was unsuccessful in moving the court to dismiss the professional malpractice claim using his “not a professional architect” argument, Skordas was granted a motion to dismiss as to the negligence per se and breach of fiduciary duty causes of action.

The plaintiffs had alleged that Skordas’ lack of valid license and failure to obtain proper building permits for the property constituted negligence per se, or created absolute liability. The court disagreed.

“The alleged statutory violation of failing to obtain a [architect] license does not establish a standard of care that relates to working without a license, and therefore the negligence per se cause of action is unsustainable.”

Further, the judge dismissed the breach of fiduciary duty cause of action, as it was duplicative of the breach of contract action.

Skordas could not be reached for comment Friday (Sept. 18). His firm's website says Skordas has "an excellent sense of aesthetics and over 20 years of experience in custom design."

The case is Silverboys LLC v. Skordas.


Tagged categories: Architecture; Color + Design; Construction; Lawsuits; North America; Renovation

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