Hill County High School District No. A v. Dick Anderson Construction, Inc., 2017 Mont. LEXIS 38 (Mt. Feb 7, 2017)

This action arose out of the design and construction of a new roof for a high school in Hill County, Montana. The roof was built by Dick Anderson Construction, Inc. (“Contractor”) and designed by Springer Group Architects, P.C. (“Architect”). While the parties disputed whether the roof was ever completed to the School District’s satisfaction, the school was in full use by April 1998 and final payment was issued around that same time.

Problems emerged with the roof almost immediately. The Contractor and Architect worked with the School District to address the problems through October 2003 when the Architect informed the School District that repairs were finished and that no further work was necessary. But the roof partially collapsed in 2010 and the School District filed suit the following year.Continue Reading Montana Supreme Court Rules That Statute of Repose Is an Absolute Bar to Claims and Cannot be Tolled for Any Reason, Including Concealment

U.S. Pipelining LLC v. Johnson Controls, Inc., No. 16-00132 HG-RLP, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150767 (D. Haw. Oct. 31, 2016)

This action arose out of the renovation of a condominium complex on Maui (Project). Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) was the general contractor and U.S. Pipelining LLC (USP) was a subcontractor. While the parties disputed who was ultimately responsible for obtaining a license for the work, the Subcontract included a provision that required USP to “obtain[] all licenses and permits required for the prosecution of the Work.” Nonetheless, USP performed its work without obtaining a license from the State of Hawaii. During the Project, a dispute arose between the parties. USP filed a complaint alleging various claims against JCI and others, seeking payment for the additional work it allegedly performed.

Chapter 444 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes (the “Statute”) requires contractors to obtain a license before performing any renovation work on real property.Continue Reading Federal Court in Hawaii Holds that an Unlicensed Subcontractor May Pursue Contract Claims Against Contractor Notwithstanding Statute Precluding Unlicensed Contractors from Recovering in a Civil Action

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Board v. INET Airport Systems, Inc., et al., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 6646, 819 F.3d 245 (5th Cir. Apr. 12, 2016)

This action arose out of a construction project in terminal E of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (“DFW”), in which pre-conditioned air and rooftop air handling units were to provide conditioned air (cooling and heating) to passenger boarding bridges and aircrafts parked at terminal gates (the “Project”).  In August, 2009, following a competitive bidding process, owner Dallas Fort Worth International Airport Board (the “Owner”) entered into a contract with contractor INET Airport Systems, Inc. (the “Contractor”) to construct the Project. The plans and specifications for the contract included detailed drawings, the precise rooftop units and parts to be used, approved manufacturers and performance requirements.  Under the contract and these plans, the Contractor was obligated to install operational rooftop units that were required to use 30 percent ethylene glycol/water supplied through DFW’s existing piping system. The Contractor was not allowed to substitute products or designs for those agreed upon in the contract documents without authorization from the Owner. The contract also required that if anything in the agreed-upon plans needed to be changed, the Contractor would alert the Owner and the parties would collaborate to come up with a workaround that would be incorporated into the contract by written change order issued by the Owner with agreed prices for performing the change order work.Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Considers Allocation of Risk of Defective Plans and Specifications in Reversing $1.29 Million Judgment Entered in Favor of Contractor

Pavarini Construction Co. v. Ace American Insurance Co., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151247 (S.D. Fla. Oct. 29, 2015)

This action arose out of a construction project to build a 63-story luxury condominium tower located in Miami, Florida (“Project”).  Pavarini Construction Co. (“Pavarini”) was the general contractor for the construction of the Project.   Pavarini hired a subcontractor for the installation of the concrete masonry unit walls and certain reinforcing steel, and a second subcontractor for the supply and installation of reinforcing steel within the cast-in-place concrete columns, beams, and sheer walls. The work performed by both of these subcontractors was deficient.  A significant amount of reinforcing steel was either omitted entirely or improperly installed, including within important concrete structural elements, resulting in destabilization throughout the building.  This, in turn, caused stucco debonding and cracking on the walls of the building, worsening cracking of cast-in-place concrete elements, and cracking in the mechanical penthouse enclosure on the roof, which led to water infiltration.Continue Reading OCIP Liability Insurer Required to Indemnify Florida Contractor for $23M in Property Damage Arising Out of Defective Subcontractor Work

Davis Group, Inc. v. Ace Electric, Inc., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83368 (M.D. Fla. June 26, 2015)

This action arose out of a construction project to build a new Radar Approach Control Facility at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina (“Project”). The United States Army Corps of Engineers (“COE”) contracted with general contractor Davis Group, Inc. (“TDG”) to construct the Project. TDG entered into a subcontract with Ace Electric, Inc. (“Ace”) to perform the electrical work on the Project (the “Subcontract”).

The Subcontract included various provisions addressing delays in completion of the work. In particular, the parties agreed that Ace was entitled to a reasonable extension of time and/or additional compensation if its work was delayed, through no fault of Ace, by the COE, TDG or other subcontractors. If on the other hand, Ace was responsible for a delay in completion of the work, then the parties agreed that Ace would “reimburse [TDG] for the entire cost and expense suffered or incurred as a result of” the delay, including any liquidated or other damages the COE might assess against TDG for delays to the Project as a whole. The Subcontract further provided that, if “such damages are caused by [Ace] and another person or entity,” TDG could “reasonably apportion such damages between the parties, and any such apportionment shall be final and binding upon [Ace].”Continue Reading Federal District Court in Florida Holds that Contract Provision Giving General Contractor Discretion to Apportion Damages Does Not Confer Authority to Determine That Subcontractor Caused Delay

John Spearly Constr., Inc. v. Penns Valley Area Sch. Dist., 2015 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 337 (Pa. Commw. Ct. July 24, 2015)

This action arose out of the construction of a biomass boiler system for the Penns Valley Area School Districts (“District”) to house the District’s boiler plant  (“Project”).  The District contracted with general contractor John Spearly Construction, Inc. (“Contractor”) to construct the Project. The District entered into direct contracts with the Project Architect and other contractors responsible for other components of the work.

Construction began in July 2010 and was to be substantially completed no later than October 18, 2010.  From its inception, however, the Project was plagued with delays.  Project delays were caused by, among other things, delays by the District’s Architect in deciding on and responding to submittals relating to changes, disputes between the District and its HVAC contractor responsible for delivering the boiler, and work performed by a sewer contractor the District brought in toward the end of the Project to repair and replace storm water and sewer pipes. Ultimately, the Project was not substantially completed until August 11, 2011.Continue Reading Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Explains and Applies Active Interference Exception to No Damage for Delay Clause

G.T. Leach Builders, LLC v. Sapphire V.P., 2015 Tex. LEXIS 273 (Tex. Mar. 20, 2015)

This action arose after 2008’s Hurricane Dolly caused extensive damage to a luxury condominium project that Sapphire V.P., L.P. (“Developer”) was in the process of developing on South Padre Island (the “Project”).  In 2009, the Developer sued insurance brokers for negligence and breach of contract, alleging that they let the builder’s risk insurance policy expire eight days before the storm struck and be replaced by a permanent policy even though construction of the Project was not yet complete.  The Developer sought to recover millions of dollars for water damage and other increased building costs it alleged that the builder’s risk policy covered or should have covered but the permanent policy did not.Continue Reading Texas Supreme Court Holds Builder’s Limited Defensive Participation in Litigation Did Not Waive Right to Compel Developer to Arbitrate

KBW Assocs. v. Jaynes Corp., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18220 (D. Nev. Feb. 13, 2015)

This action arose out of the construction of additions to existing buildings at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada (the “Project”).  The United States Army Corps of Engineers (the “COE”) contracted with Defendant Jaynes Corporation, Inc. (“Jaynes”) to perform the work.  Jaynes then subcontracted with Plaintiff, KBW Associates, Inc. (“KBW”), to construct the metal framing and outer shell of the buildings.

Following construction delays, Jaynes found itself involved in two separate actions.  In the first action (the “Prime Contract Litigation”), Jaynes was defending against liquidated damages assessed by the COE under the prime contract.  In the instant action (the “Subcontract Litigation”), Jaynes was defending a Miller Act suit for contract balances brought by KBW.  KBW alleged Jaynes was responsible for the construction delay, through a “pattern of mismanagement”, involving failure to timely approve work, unilateral imposition of work beyond the scope of the subcontract and improper scheduling.  Jaynes asserted several affirmative defenses and filed counterclaims against KBW, on grounds that KBW failed to perform in accordance with the subcontract and failed to meet construction schedules.Continue Reading Federal District Court in Nevada Denies Contractor’s Motion to Stay Subcontractor’s Miller Act Suit Pending Resolution of Contractor’s Suit Against the Government

DCK TTEC, LLC v. Postel Industries, Inc., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 2775 (3d Cir. Feb. 25, 2015)

This action arose out of the construction of two maintenance hangars at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona (the “Project”).  The Navy hired DCK TTEC, LLC (“DCK”) as the general contractor for the construction of the Project.  In November 2010, Postel Industries, Inc. (“Postel”) submitted a bid to DCK to supply and erect fabricated steel for the Project, and in May 2011, Postel and DCK met and signed a letter of intent.Continue Reading Third Circuit Holds Subcontractor To Its Proposal On Grounds of Promissory Estoppel

An amended version of this post was published in the March 16, 2015 AGC Construction Law in Brief, the weekly newsletter for the Associated General Contractors of America.

Since 1994, Pennsylvania law has provided enhanced remedies for prevailing in a payment dispute arising out of a construction project.  The prevailing party in a recent jury trial discovered uncertainty in the precise contours of those available remedies.  There was no clear precedent governing recovery of fees of a testifying expert, necessary to overcome the complex accounting and delay claims asserted by the defendant in response to the invoice dispute, and the method of calculating pre-judgment and post-judgment interest and penalty interest under the statute.  Because of the large sums at issue, the difference in calculation methods was significant.  Entitlement to these matters was unclear in spite of 20 years of precedent under the Pennsylvania Contractor and Subcontractor Payment Act.Continue Reading Analysis: Prevailing Party In Jury Trial Finds Uncertainty In Remedies Available Under Pennsylvania Contractor And Subcontractor Payment Act