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Kristopher focuses his practice on construction-related matters. He counsels and represents owners, construction managers, EPC contractors, general contractors, and subcontractors in all phases of the construction process and on a wide range of projects including process plants, mass transit systems, highways, transmission lines, locks and dams, and other commercial and government construction projects. He represents clients in state and federal court litigation and alternative dispute resolution proceedings.

United States Army Corps of Engineers v. John C. Grimberg Co., Inc., No. 2019-1608, 2020 BL 215269 (Fed. Cir. June 9, 2020)

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a decision by the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (“Board”), which had found in favor of a contractor on a Type I differing site condition claim. The Board had held that, even though the contractor’s interpretation of the contract documents was unreasonable, it was more reasonable than the government’s. The Federal Circuit reversed, holding, as a matter of law, that the contractor’s unreasonable interpretation of the contract documents barred its claim.
Continue Reading Federal Court Holds the Reasonableness of the Government’s Interpretation of Geotechnical Data is Irrelevant to Differing Site Condition Claim

Rad and D’Aprile, Inc. v. Arnell Construction Corp, No. 502464/14, 2019 BL 131606 (NY. Sup. Ct. April 3, 2019)

In June of 2001, Arnell Construction Corp. (“Arnell”) entered into a prime contract to build two sanitation garages in Brooklyn for the New York City Department of Sanitation (the “City”).  Arnell subcontracted the project’s masonry work to Rad and D’Aprile, Inc. (“Rad”).  After execution of the subcontract, Rad was informed that the start of work would be delayed because the City had not yet obtained ownership or access to all portions of the site.  When its work did commence, only limited portions of the site were available.  This caused inefficiencies in Rad’s work and caused it to incur increased costs.

Continue Reading New York Court Holds Contractor’s Failure to Timely Pass Through Subcontractor Delay Claim to the Owner Constitutes Breach of the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing

James Talcott Construction, Inc. v. United States, No. 14-427 C, 2019 BL 72711, at *1 (Fed. Cl. Mar. 4, 2019)

In May of 2010, the United States, acting through the Department of Defense (the “Government”) awarded a contract to James Talcott Construction, Inc. (“Talcott”) to replace existing housing for military families at the Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana.  Talcott was required to construct thirteen buildings, each comprising seventy housing units.  Each building was to be constructed with concrete foundations and wood framing, and the project’ design called for wooden floor joists and subfloor decking to be enclosed in crawlspaces.  The contract stated that the “structural drawings and specification represent the finished structure… [but] do not indicate the method of construction.  The contractor will provide all measures necessary to protect the structure during construction.”  The plans and specifications were silent as to ventilation of the crawlspaces.

Continue Reading Court of Federal Claim Rejects Spearin Claim and Holds Contractor Responsible for Failure to Prevent Mold Growth

IES Commercial, Inc. v. Manhattan Torcon, A Joint Venture, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164973 (D. Md. Sept. 26, 2018)

In 2009, the Army Corps of Engineers hired Manhattan Torcon Joint Venture (“MT”) as general contractor to build a biological research facility at Fort Detrick, Maryland.  MT subcontracted with IES Commercial, Inc. (“IES”) to perform the electrical system work.

In August 2013, after IES had completed over 90% of its work, a fire destroyed or damaged more than half of the facility, including significant portions of IES’s work. MT ordered IES to perform significant fire remediation work in addition to the remainder of its base contract work. In November 2013, IES and MT entered into a subcontract amendment referred to as the “Fire Rider,” which included an agreed rate schedule for the fire remediation work, along with a procedure by which IES would perform work at MT’s direction, submit daily work tickets and monthly invoices, and be paid within ten days after MT received payment from its insurer.
Continue Reading A Fire Destroying More Than Half of the Project Is Not a Cardinal Change Where the Parties Entered into a Separate Agreement to Cover the Fire Remediation Work

Connelly Constr. Corp. v. Travelers Cas. & Surety Co. of Am., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123009 (E.D. Pa. July 24, 2018).

This post was published in the October 4, 2018 issue of eNews published by National Association of Credit Management (NACM).

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of General Services undertook a project for the construction of a new maximum security prison facility in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  Walsh Heery Joint Venture (“WHJV”) was the prime contractor and it retained Connelly Construction Corporation as its masonry subcontractor.

The prime contract permitted the Commonwealth to withhold retainage from WHJV until completion of the project.  Similarly, the subcontract permitted WHJV to withhold retainage from Connelly in proportion to the retainage held by the Commonwealth.  The subcontract also included a pay-if-paid clause under which Connelly agreed that it was not entitled to payment unless, as an express condition precedent, WHJV was paid by the Commonwealth.

Completion of the project was delayed for more than two years.  As a result, the Commonwealth continued to withhold retainage from WHJV, and WHJV thus withheld more than $200,000 in retainage from Connelly, long after Connelly completed its scope of work.
Continue Reading Federal Court in Pennsylvania Holds Pay-If-Paid Clause Unenforceable Where Prime Contractor’s Inadvertent Delays Contribute to the Owner’s Withholding of Payment

Fraser Eng’g Co. v. IPS-Integrated Project Servs., LLC, 2018 US Dist. LEXIS 51392 (D.N.H. March 27, 2018)

IPS-Integrated Project Services, LLC (“IPS”) was the general contractor on a project to design and construct a manufacturing facility in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. IPS subcontracted with Fraser Engineering Company (“Fraser”) for the project’s mechanical and plumbing scope of work. Shortly after award, IPS notified Fraser that it may be directed to accelerate its work. In response, Fraser put IPS on notice that acceleration would result in labor inefficiencies for which it expected to be reimbursed.  Thereafter, IPS directed Fraser to accelerate and Fraser complied by using extra overtime over the next several months. During that time, the parties communicated numerous times about Fraser’s claim for labor inefficiencies.

Under its subcontract with IPS, Fraser was required to submit lien waivers with each of its payment applications. According to the court, the waivers at issue “do not merely release lien rights, but also ‘all claims, demands, or causes of action . . . which [Fraser] has, or might under any present or future law, assert against [IPS] or [the owner] relating to the Partial Payment and/or the labor services, materials or equipment for which the partial payment has been made.’” During its work, Fraser submitted eight such waivers.


Continue Reading Federal Court in New Hampshire Holds That Subcontractor May Pursue a Mechanics’ Lien Despite Signing Written Lien Waivers and Releases Because General Contractor Had Actual Notice of Subcontractor’s Intent to Claim at Time Waivers Were Executed

Adams v. Barr, 2018 VT 12, 2018 Vt. LEXIS 10 (VT 2018)

On February 24, 2016, Barr Law Group (“Barr”) filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association to recover $40,000 in unpaid legal fees from its client, Adams Construction VT, LLC (“Adams”).  Adams responded by filing an answer and counterclaim, seeking to recover $97,000 in damages from Barr.  Thereafter, Adams and Barr each actively participated in the arbitration, including arbitrator selection, preliminary conferences, extensive discovery and motion practice over a period of more than five months.  At the request of Adams, the matter was set for a three day hearing.

In October of 2016, just one week before the three day hearing was set to begin, Adams filed an objection and motion to dismiss the arbitration, arguing that the arbitration clause in its fee agreement with Barr was unenforceable.  Specifically, Adams argued that Barr, as Adams’ counsel, owed a fiduciary duty and ethical obligations that required it to disclose to Adams the rights it would forego by signing the agreement.  According to Adams, Barr had failed to explain the legal implication of the arbitration clause and failed to advise Adams to obtain independent counsel before signing the agreement.  However, Adams’ objection and motion to dismiss was the first time it had raised any objection to the arbitration proceedings.


Continue Reading Supreme Court of Vermont Holds That Contractor Waived its Right to Challenge the Validity of Arbitration Agreement by Actively Participating in the Arbitration for Six Months Before Raising an Objection

Pritchett Controls, Inc. v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192182, 2017 WL 5591872 (D. Md. Nov. 21, 2017)

James W. Ancel, Inc. (“JWA”) was the prime contractor on a project for the Maryland Transit Authority in Baltimore.  JWA subcontracted a portion of the work to Pritchett Controls, Inc. (“Pritchett”).  The subcontract contained a forum selection clause requiring any disputes to be “brought in the District or County where Contractor’s  principal office is located….”  JWA’s principal office is located in Towson, Maryland, which sits in Baltimore County.

As required by Maryland’s Little Miller Act, JWA, as principal, executed a payment bond with Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. (“Hartford”), as surety.  This case involves Pritchett’s claim against Hartford for payment under the bond.

While performing its work on the project, Pritchett submitted twelve (12) payment applications to JWA totaling $744,799.  It completed its work on March 16, 2017 but never received any payment for its work.  On May 11, 2017, Pritchett submitted a notice of claim to Hartford.  When that claim remained unpaid by July 25, 2017, Pritchett filed this action against Hartford in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.


Continue Reading Use of the Word “in” Indicates Geography; Use of the Word “of” Indicates Sovereignty: Federal District Court in Maryland Holds That Venue Is Proper in Federal Court in Maryland Where Forum Selection Clause Requires Action to be Brought “In the District or County” Where the Prime Contractor Is Located

Fogelson v. Bozzone, 2017 N.M. App. LEXIS 58 (July 26, 2017)

In May of 2008, Wallen Development, LLC (“Wallen”) entered into a written agreement to construct and sell a new home to David and Corinne Fogelson (“Fogelson”).  But, after Fogelson paid Wallen in excess of $165,111 under the agreement, Wallen went out of business as a result of financial difficulties.
Fogelson filed an arbitration action against Wallen and ultimately obtained a default judgment after Wallen failed to appear.  Thereafter, Fogelson filed a complaint in court against various individuals affiliated with Wallen.  As relevant here, Fogelson asserted a claim under New Mexico’s Unfair Practices Act, NMSA 1978 §§ 57-12-1 to -26 against one of Wallen’s owners, Mark Bozzone (“Bozzone”).  Bozzone filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that “construction services”, such as those provided by Wallen, do not fall within the scope of the Unfair Practices Act.  The trial court granted Bozzone’s motion.

The major issue on appeal was whether the doctrine of res judicata applied to an arbitration proceeding.  After a very lengthy discussion covering over half of the opinion, the Court of Appeals ruled the res judicata did apply to the arbitration result against Wallen.


Continue Reading Appellate Court Holds That the New Mexico Unfair Practices Act Applies to a “Services” Contract for the Construction of a Home, But Does Not Apply to a “Sales” Contract for the Sale of a Completed Home

City of Phoenix v. Glenayre Elecs., Inc., 2017 Ariz. LEXIS 121 (Ariz. May 10, 2017)

Between 1960 and 2000, Carlos Tarazon (“Tarazon”) performed work installing and repairing water piping for various contractors and developers in the City of Phoenix, Arizona (the “City”).  In 2013, after developing mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos while working on these projects, Tarazon filed a personal injury suit against numerous defendants, including the City and the various contractors and developers for whom he had worked.

The City filed a third-party complaint against the contractors and developers, alleging that they had agreed to defend and indemnify the City against negligence claims relating to these projects.  With respect to the contractors, their various contracts with the City each expressly required the contractor to indemnify the City from all suits arising from their work.


Continue Reading The King’s Time Is Up: Arizona Supreme Court Holds That the Statute of Repose Bars Untimely Claims by State Entities and Overrides the Doctrine of Nullum Tempus Occurrit Regi