P.A.L. Environmental Safety Corp. v. North American Dismantling Corp. Et Al., No. 19-11630, 2020 BL 198779 (E.D. Mich. May 28, 2020)

A Michigan federal court partially granted Consumers Energy Company’s (“CEC”) motion to dismiss P.A.L. Environmental Safety Corporation’s (“PAL”) complaint alleging numerous causes of action in connection with its suit against CEC and contractor North American Dismantling Corporation (“NADC”) for outstanding payment stemming from asbestos abatement work at a CEC-owned power plant in Essexville, Michigan (the “Power Plant”).

According to the decision, CEC, as owner, and NADC, as prime contractor, entered into a written contract whereby NADC agreed to abate, dismantle, and demolish the Power Plant.  In turn, NADC subcontracted with PAL to perform abatement of all asbestos containing material at the Power Plant.  While the subcontract price was $7,996,331, PAL alleged entitlement to an adjusted price of $23,841,833 in unpaid labor and materials for its asbestos abatement work.  Specifically, PAL alleges that it performed additional work not accounted for in the subcontract including fly ash and coal dust removal, refractory brick abatement, and extra asbestos removal.

While PAL’s complaint included numerous counts against Defendants NADC, CEC, and labor and material payment bond surety North American Specialty Insurance Company (“NASIC”), the opinion is most notable for its treatment of CEC’s motion to dismiss several counts against it including: (i) quasi-contractual claims; (ii) a third-party breach of contract claim; and (iii) a negligent misrepresentation claim.
Continue Reading Michigan Federal Court Permits Subcontractor’s Quasi-Contractual Claims to Proceed Despite Existence of Express Contract Covering the Same Subject Matter

Chinese Hosp. Ass’n v. Jacobs Eng’g Grp., Inc., 2019 BL 330340, 2 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 03, 2019)

This case arises out of the alleged breach of contract and defective design for the construction of a new hospital in San Francisco.  During construction, property owner and plaintiff Chinese Hospital Association (“Chinese Hospital”) became aware of alleged defects involving the designs provided by its subcontractor, architect-defendant Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. (“Jacobs”).  Chinese Hospital terminated its contract with Jacobs for convenience mid-construction.

Continue Reading Owner Did Not Waive Right to Damages by Terminating Design Contract for Convenience

Precision Hydraulic Cylinders, Inc. v. Manufacturing. Technology, Inc., No. 7:18-CV-203-FL, 2019 BL 344743, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156670 (E.D.N.C. Sept. 13, 2019)

Precision Hydraulic Cylinders, Inc. (“Precision”) issued a series of purchase orders to Manufacturing Technology, Inc. (“MTI”) to weld steel components together to create hydraulic cylinders. MTI agreed to develop welds for Precision’s small and large cylinders under two separate purchase orders.

Continue Reading North Carolina Federal District Court Dismisses Tort Claims Based on Same Duty and Breach Alleged in Plaintiff’s Contract Claims

United Illuminating Company v. Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. v. Cherry Hill Construction Co., Inc., et al. v. GEI Consultants, Inc., et al., 3:18-cv-00327-WWE (D. Conn. 2019)

In 2010 The United Illuminating Company (“UI”), an electric utility company, and Whiting-Turner, a construction contractor, entered into a general contractor agreement for the construction of the United Illuminating Central Facility Project (the “Project”) in Orange, Connecticut.  The Project required construction of an office building, an operations building, and related parking lots and common driveways.  Whiting-Turner and Cherry Hill Construction Co. (“Cherry Hill”), a heavy civil construction contractor, then entered into a subcontractor agreement which required Cherry Hill to perform site work.

Continue Reading Courts Decline to Impose Liability on Subcontractor Where Contractor Could Not Prove Subcontractor’s Exclusive Control on Shared Project Site

DAK Americas Mississippi, Inc. v. Jedson Engineering, Inc. et al, No. 1:18cv31-HSO-JCG, 2019 BL 208838 (S.D. Miss. June 6, 2019)

This dispute arose out of the design and construction of a concrete storage slab at DAK’s polymer resin manufacturing facility located in Hancock County, Mississippi.  DAK hired Ohio-based Jedson to design and oversee the construction of a cement slab suitable for commercial operating loaders and other heavy equipment necessary to transport, unload, and stack shipping containers.  DAK allegedly discovered substantial cracking and chipping of the cement, and filed suit in federal court claiming Jedson failed to design a slab suitable for DAK’s intended purposes.  DAK asserted claims for negligent design, negligent construction management, and breach of contract.

Continue Reading Federal Court Finds That Ambiguous Limitation-of-Liability Clause Did Not Clearly Restrict Owner’s Claims

Arco Ingenierosm, S.A. v. CDM Int’l Inc., Civil Action No. 18-12348-PBS, 2019 BL 100779 (D. Mass. Mar. 22, 2019)

In November 2009, Tropical Storm Ida hit El Salvador, causing flooding, landslides, and the destruction of homes, roads, bridges, schools, health clinics, and other infrastructure.  The United States Agency for International Development (“USAID”) provided $25 million in funding to rebuild damaged infrastructure.  USAID retained Defendant CDM International Inc. (“CDM”) to conduct studies and assessment for the construction of eight schools and one health clinic (the “Projects”) and to create preliminary designs and technical specifications for these Projects.  These preliminary designs were intended to constitute at least thirty percent of final designs for the Projects.  Relying on the preliminary designs created by CDM, Plaintiff Arco Ingenieros, S.A. de C.V. (“ARCO”) submitted bids to act as the design-build contractor for the Projects.  USAID awarded the Projects to ARCO.

Continue Reading Contractor’s Third Party Beneficiary Claim Dismissed Against Designer Where Designer’s Contract with Owner Lacked Clear Intent to Benefit the Contractor

Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. v Guar. Co. of N. Am. USA, 2019 BL 97923 (Colo. App. Mar. 21, 2019).

This construction dispute involved rights and obligations under a performance bond supplied for an office building construction project in Denver, Colorado.  Whiting-Turner Contracting Company was the general contractor, and it subcontracted Klempco Construction to construct an anchor system for the project’s underground parking garage.  Klempco provided performance and payment bonds for the project from Guarantee Company of North America USA (“GCNA”).  When Klempco fell behind schedule, it stopped paying its sub-subcontractors and directed Whiting-Turner to assume responsibility for its work and sub-subcontractors.

Continue Reading Colorado Court of Appeals Finds Contractor Satisfied Conditions Precedent Under Performance Bond

Team Contractors, LLC v. Waypoint Nola, LLC, No. 16-1131, 2019 BL 96133 (E.D. La. Mar. 20, 2019)

The Eastern District of Louisiana recently denied the motion of a prime contractor (the “Contractor”) for summary judgment on its breach of contract claim against the owner (the “Owner”) of a construction project in New Orleans (the “Project”) where the primary issue involved whether a suspensive condition was enforceable.

Continue Reading Federal Court in Louisiana Upholds Suspensive Condition Not Subject Solely to Owner’s Whim

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

Skyrise Construction Group, LLC v. Annex Construction, LLC, 2019 BL 55071 (E.D. Wis. Feb. 20, 2019)

Subcontractor Skyrise Construction, Inc. (“Skyrise”) sued general contractor Annex Construction, Inc. (“Annex”) for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, negligent misrepresentation, and violations of Wisconsin and Illinois trade practices statutes.  Skyrise primarily based its claims on an assertion that the parties entered into a subcontract, which Annex breached when it removed Skyrise from the project and completed the work with an alternative subcontractor.  Both Skyrise and Annex filed motions for summary judgment.  The District Court denied Skyrise’s motion and granted Annex’s motion.

Continue Reading District Court in Wisconsin Finds That Counteroffer and Repeated Negotiations Concerning a Construction Contract Do Not Create Contractual Relationship