Litigation & Alternative Dispute Resolution



When a client faces a construction or commercial disputes, Zetlin & De Chiara becomes their unwavering advocate. We recognize issues quickly and advocate proficiently on technical matters because we combine our focus on the legal and business issues that are inherent to construction with previous experience in architecture, engineering, construction and real estate.

Zetlin & De Chiara successfully obtained pre-answer dismissal of numerous litigations against design professionals, including wrongful death and substantial property damage claims.

Zetlin & De Chiara brings this depth of experience to every dispute resolution forums--- courtroom trials, mediations, arbitrations, appeals and administrative proceedings. We develop strategies that mitigate potential damages and outline practical solutions in the most effective terms.  We frame the issues not just in legal terms, but how will the potential outcomes impact their project, business and future livelihood. Our attorneys deliver persuasive, cost-effective presentations at both the state and federal levels in a broad range of construction claims.


Zetlin & De Chiara understands the taxing effects of long-term litigation, which is why the firm is dedicated to offering its clients alternative forms of dispute resolution. As a third-party mediator, Zetlin & De Chiara is ready to resolve issues fairly for all parties in a timely and professional manner. We leverage our extensive understanding of the legal landscape and recognize the importance of personal, human interactions to award all parties a swift resolution without resorting to litigation.

Representative Legal Actions

  • Complex contract claims
  • Scope of services
  • Changed conditions
  • Property damages
  • Errors and omissions
  • Construction defects
  • Design and delay claims
  • Construction safety claims
  • Fee claims
  • Surety claims
  • Construction-related disputes between adjacent property owners
  • ADA and FHA Claims (Department of Justice)


Representative Matters

News & Events


  • news
    New York Real Estate Journal

    Twenty years ago, the New York Law Journal published an article about a then little-used law that authorized courts to grant a license to a property owner or developer unable to make repairs or improvements to its property without entering onto a neighbor’s property (See Little-Used Law Helps Developers Held Hostage, N.Y.L.J. Aug. 14, 2002).  The law in question, Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (“RPAPL”) Section 881, authorized a judicial license where a neighbor refused permission to access its property for necessary construction and repairs.  It also provided the court with flexibility to set conditions on the license upon “such terms as justice requires.”

  • news

    In a major victory for real estate developers and New York City, a New York State Appellate Court has overturned a decision preventing the completion of a new 55-story condominium building at 200 Amsterdam Avenue.

  • news
    Steel Institute of America

    Construction sites close down for emergencies—whether or not everyone involved is ready. The COVID-19 lockdown adds new forms of operational and legal uncertainty. Yet a shutdown needn’t be a disaster: it’s time to plan, anticipate potential problems, and upgrade procedures.

  • news

    Billy Joel's litigation with a former contractor over work performed in his Long Island home was featured in an article in Newsday. The rockstar is being represented by Zetlin & De Chiara LLP. The firm is quoted in the article.  


  • event
    The Harmonie Club, 4 East 60th Street, New York

    Michael Zetlin Esq. (Moderator) - Senior Partner, Zetlin and De Chiara LLP

    Don Naber - EVP, Safety, Risk and Insurance, Gilbane Building Company

    Jack Frasier - SVP, American Global LLC

    Brian Palmer - AVP, Claims Advocate Lead, Alliant Insurance Services/Construction Services

    Nadeem Mir - Clinical Director, First Care

    Michael Zetlin, Senior Partner at Zetlin & De Chiara LLP, moderated a panel discussion hosted by the New York Building Congress -"ADR" Alternative Dispute Resolution: A Legal Alternative to Workers Compensation Insurance for Infrastructure and Construction on July 14th, at the Harmonie Club, 4 East 60th Street, New York.

  • event

    Loryn Riggiola, Partner

    Loryn Riggiola, Partner will speak as a member of a panel at The Dispute Resolution Board Foundation 25th Annual Connections Conference on November 8-10, 2021. The conference will address The "New" P3: Past, Present and Post-Pandemic DBs.

    The panel, Champion or Challenger - How the DRB Process is Viewed Through the Lens of the Designer and Engineer will address how engineers / designers think about the DRB process.

    We often hear from project owners, CMs, and contractors, but what do the engineers / designers think about the DRB process? A panel of major project designers will discuss this perspective.


    Ali Chaudhry, Senior Vice President, AECOM

    Ed Hunter, Technical Advisor, HNTB
    Matthew Neuringer, Senior Associate, Orrick Law Firm
    Loryn Riggiola, Partner,Zetlin & De Chiara LLP
    David Ryan, Senior Vice President-Boston, AECOM

  • event

    Loryn Riggiola, Partner

    Loryn Riggiola, Partner, Zetlin & De Chiara LLP,  joins a panel on June 10, 2021, 1:30-2:30 entitled Understand the Arbitral Decision-Making Model and What Advocates Can Do to Protect the Award. This panel will dicuss the differing arbitral decision-making philosophies and recent challenges to arbitral awards. The application of law, equity, fairness, and justness can serve as a means by which an arbitrator can reach a decision. Each model has its own unique characteristics, and understanding these approaches and their limits is key to avoiding improper or frustrating outcomes in arbitration. Along with the arbitrator, advocates have a role to play in the rendering of an enforceable award, and all participants should have an appreciation for the nature of recent challenges to arbitral awards. The panel will also offer practical tips for drafting arbitration agreements, conducting discovery, and the presentation of evidence to assist arbitrators in making enforceable awards.

  • event

    Michael De Chiara, Senior Partner

    Ted von Rosenvinge, GeoDesign Engineers

    A discussion of the lessons learned, both legal and technical, arising from the Millennium Tower project in San Francisco. The Millennium Tower is a 58 story luxury rental building, home to many high-profile profile that started to skink and tile after completion. One corner of the Tower descended at least 18 inches. The speakers were instrumental in resolving the dispute that ensued. 

  • event

    Michael K. De Chiara, Zetlin & De Chiara; Scott Frank-JB&B; Josephine Zurica-Dagher Engineering

    This program will present key aspects of ACEC New York's LL97 Reference Guide White Paper. Michael De Chiara will discuss design team liability.

  • event

    Michael De Chiara-Zetlin & De Chiara LLP 

    Jeremy Butkovich - Shannon & Wilson, Steve DeSimone - DeSimone Consulting Engineers, Leo E. Argiris - Arup, and George Leventis - Langan. Panel in formation.

    A New Paradigm for Pre-Construction Engineering Analysis

    Recent events in both New York and San Francisco have highlighted a much under-appreciated but enormous risk caused by most large construction projects in dense urban environments.

    The effects of major construction projects on adjoining properties are not sufficiently understood. When the unanticipated problems occur they often result in significant damages, which can equal the entire cost of the new project.

    The proper analysis of these effects involve advanced geotechnical and structural analysis, often not undertaken in large complex projects.

    We will cite several well-known situations which could have been avoided if this new level of pre-construction analysis was undertaken.

  • event

    Jaimee L. Nardiello, Partner, Panelist

    Jaimee Nardiello, Partner, will participate in a panel that will discuss Contract and Common Law Claims, Prosecution of Claims and Remedies. 

  • event

    Tara Mulrooney, Partner

    Join Tara Mulrooney, Partner, as she participates in an interactive discussion with a panel of lawyers, architects and construction professionals as they explore ways to navigate the issues facing projects in the age of COVID-19.

  • event

    James Terry, Partner and Timothy Hegarty, Partner

    How to Address the Impact on Development, Construction and Design: 

    Answers for the Construction Community

  • event
    The American Arbitration Association – International Centre for Dispute Resolution (AAA-ICDR)

    Loryn Riggiola - Partner

    Aisha Nadar - Consultant, Advokatfirman Runeland AB, Board Member, FIDIC; Levi W. Barrett - Senior Counsel, Peckar & Abramson, P.C.; Albert Bates, Jr. - Partner, Pepper Hamilton LLP; and Kenneth W. Cobleigh, Esq. - Managing Director and Counsel, The American Institute of Architects

    Partner Loryn P. Riggiola spoke on the panel “Understanding the Dispute Management Provisions Pursuant to the FIDIC and Other Industry Form Contract Documents and their Application to Mega Projects – An International and Domestic Construction ADR Overview ” at the American Arbitration Association – International Centre for Dispute Resolution (AAA-ICDR).


  • publication

    Zetlin & De Chiara senior partner Michael Zetlin moderated a thought-provoking panel discussion for the NY Building Congress on “Alternative Dispute Resolution as a Legal Alternative to Workers Compensation Insurance for Infrastructure and Construction” on July 14 at the Harmonie Club.

  • publication

    New York State has significantly expanded the requirements covering disclosure of insurance-related information in commercial litigation commenced on or after December 31, 2021.

    Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act into law on December 31, 2021, and signed a remedial law on February 24, 2022, to limit some of the more onerous and worrisome aspects of the new disclosure regime (together the “Act”).  The Act amends a subsection of the Civil Practice Law and Rules (“CPLR”) governing the scope of disclosure under CPLR 3101(f) and added certification requirements under CPLR 3122-b.

  • publication

    In recent weeks, there has been a long list of companies, from all industries spanning from construction/engineering to fashion and hospitality, that have announced that they are completely severing ties with Russia, while a host of others have announced a temporary halt. See Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, Over 400 Companies Have Withdrawn from Russia – But Some Remain, Yale School of Management (Updated Mar. 21, 2022), For those developers, EPC contractors, and design professionals (engineers and architects) who have construction projects in Russia, the question is, “How should we proceed?”

  • publication

    New York City developers collectively sighed with relief when 200 Amsterdam, a mixed-use, high-rise building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, was saved from the guillotine when a New York State intermediate appellate court reversed a lower court’s decision that retroactively revoked the developer’s building permit for an as-of-right development. The affirmance of the controversial ruling, issued by the New York County Supreme Court on February 27, 2020, would have resulted in the demolition of more than 20 top floors of the fully-constructed 668 feet high 55-story tower.

  • publication

    The Metropolitan Transit Authority (“MTA”) recently published and implemented revised regulations relating to “Contractor” debarment. 

  • publication

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the way we work--whether in an office or out in the field--has changed significantly, and in some cases in an extremely short amount of time--even overnight in some cases. Without available technology, this unprecedented shift would have been impossible. The abrupt, industry-wide transition to virtual working has led to a new understanding of the practicality and possibilities inherent in many new technologies. As construction sites throughout the U.S. begin reopening after shutdowns or ramping up after slowdowns or suspensions, these technologies may play an even larger role in a project's success.

    To read the article, please click here.

  • publication

    Following our webinar, COVID-19 Challenges to the Construction Industry, we assembled a Questions & Answers based upon questions participants posed and to issues we discussed.

  • publication
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