Design Responsibilities

D.W. Wilburn, Inc. v. K. Norman Berry Assocs., No. 2015-CA-001254-MR, 2016 Ky. App. Lexis 206 (Ky. Ct. App. Dec. 22, 2016)

This case arose out of a construction project in which the Oldham County Board of Education (the “Board”) was the owner, K. Norman Berry Associates (“KNBA”) was the architect and D.W. Wilburn (“Wilburn”) was the general contractor. The Board’s contract with Wilburn provided that: (i) change orders must be signed by the architect, contractor, and owner; (ii) claims for additional time, money or delay damages must be submitted within twenty-one days of the event giving rise to the claim; (iii) change orders resolved all claims for time and money relating to the scope of the change order, and (iv) the contractor’s acceptance of final payment waived its claims, except those identified in writing as unsettled at the time of final application for payment.  Pursuant to the contract, the parties executed twenty-one change orders and Wilburn submitted a final payment application and closeout form.

Later, Wilburn was sued by one of its subcontractors for delay to the project. Wilburn then sued KNBA in a third party complaint asserting that KNBA was liable for the delay as a result of its defective plans and specifications.  The trial court granted KNBA summary judgment, dismissing Wilburn’s claim for lack of contractual privity.  Wilburn appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed.

Continue Reading Kentucky Appellate Court Holds That a Contractor May Pursue Claim of Negligent Misrepresentation Against Architect Despite Lack of Contract, the Economic Loss Rule, and Project Waivers

Wax NJ-2, LLC v. JFB Constr. & Dev., 13-cv-4537, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74508 (S.D.N.Y. June 9, 2015)

Wax NJ-2, LLC (“Wax”) hired the architectural firm GF55 Partners (“GF55”) to design and then inspect construction of a store that Wax planned to open in New York City.  The building which Wax was preparing to lease for the store had been leased as two separate commercial spaces.  Wax had the option of moving a partition wall between the two spaces and thus increasing or decreasing the amount of square footage leased for its store.  In designing the layout of Wax’s store, GF55 reported to Wax that the footprint called for 1235 square feet.  Wax then entered into a lease agreement with the owner for 1235 square feet of the building at $125 per square foot.  Construction commenced, and GF55’s remaining obligations under its contract with Wax included inspection of the contractor’s work to ensure compliance with the building code.

Continue Reading Federal Court in New York Applies Scope of Duty Analysis in Deciding Claim for Architectural Malpractice

American Towers LLC v. BPI, Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106724 (E.D. Ky. Aug. 4, 2014)

American Towers LLC (“American Towers”), which operates wireless and broadcast communications towers, undertook a project to construct a cell tower in Prestonburg, KY, along with a tower compound and access road.  American Towers selected BPI, Inc. (“BPI”) as general contractor for the project, and the parties executed a contract.

The contract contained a number of provisions that allocated the parties’ responsibilities with respect to design and construction.  In particular, the contract provided that American Towers was to provide BPI with drawings, specifications, and instructions.  BPI, for its part, was responsible for “all construction means, methods, techniques, sequences, and procedures[.]”  Moreover, BPI was to complete its work in a “workmanlike manner and with the highest degree of skill and care exercised by reputable contractors performing the same or similar services[.]” In performing its work, if BPI recognized any problems with American Towers’ design, the contract provided that BPI was to stop work and inform American Towers of the problem.  American Towers would then “issue written instructions” to BPI about how BPI should proceed.

Continue Reading U.S. District Court in Kentucky Holds that Contractor Which Proposed Design Solution During Construction Might Be Liable for Failure Notwithstanding Owner’s Obligation to Provide Designs and Instructions