The AIA A201 General Conditions at §15.2 mandate that any claim be submitted to the Initial Decision Maker (“IDM”) before a claim may be mediated, and ultimately resolved in arbitration or litigation. The IDM is often the Architect, but can be anybody selected by the parties.

In a recent Florida case, the parties in their contract selected a building department official as the IDM, but neither party – owner or contractor – submitted their dispute to the IDM. When the owner filed suit against the contractor, the contractor moved to dismiss because the contract mandated arbitration (after an unsuccessful mediation). The Court of Appeals ruled that both parties waived arbitration by failing to submit the dispute to the IDM in the first place. Leder v. Imburgia Construction Services, Inc., 2021 WL 3177338 (Fla 3d DCA July 28, 2021).

This case reinforces the point that any party that wishes to preserve a claim for additional time or money under the AIA documents needs to timely submit the claim to the IDM.