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

On April 17, the California Court of Appeal decided Crosno Construction, Inc. v. Travelers Casualty & Surety Company of America,1 effectively narrowing the scope of enforceable “pay-when-paid” provisions in construction subcontracts to the extent the subcontractor seeks recovery against a general contractor’s payment bond surety. Although the Crosno case involved a public works project, the rationale and holding should apply with equal force to private works projects. Basing the bulk of its decision on the Wm. R. Clarke Corp. v. Safeco Insurance Co.2 case, the court found that an open-ended “pay-when-paid” provision in a subcontract is not enforceable against a subcontractor that seeks to recover on a public works payment bond claim. This article discusses the Crosno decision and the implications for contractors on both sides of the contract moving forward.
Continue Reading California Appeals Court Provides Guidance on ‘Pay-When-Paid’ Provisions in Construction Subcontracts

COVID-19 has created a severe disruption to the construction industry. Certain jurisdictions, including Boston, San Francisco and Pennsylvania, have placed restrictions on construction projects deemed “nonessential” and require waivers for certain projects to continue. Owners, contractors, suppliers and others may currently have more questions than answers. This article addresses some important concerns, and provides links to additional resources that more specifically address these concerns.
Continue Reading COVID-19 and the Construction Industry: Important Considerations

Decker Constr. Co. v. Wesex Corp., No. 2:18-cv-727, 2019 BL 232653 (S.D. Ohio June 24, 2019)

In Decker Construction Co. v. Wesex Corporation, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio declined to dismiss a cause of action for fraudulent misrepresentation against Third-Party Defendant Mark Schrader (“Schrader”), the former Chief Financial Officer of Wesex Corporation (“Wesex”).  Wesex served as the general contractor on a construction project in New Albany, Ohio (the “Project”).  In its claim against Schrader, Third Party Plaintiff CCL Label, Inc. (“CCL”), the construction manager on the Project, alleged that Schrader signed affidavits included in Wesex’s payment applications that falsely certified Wesex’s subcontractors had been paid for their work on the Project.  Schrader sought dismissal on the basis that the Court lacked personal jurisdiction over him and that CCL failed to state a claim.

Continue Reading Ohio Federal Court Declines to Dismiss Action Against the Officer of a General Contractor Who Allegedly Submitted False Certifications Regarding Payments Made to Subcontractors With Payment Applications

Skanska USA Building, Inc. v. J.D. Long Masonry, Inc., No. 1:16-cv-00933, 2019 BL 336852, (D. Md. Sept. 9, 2019)

On September 9, 2019, a Maryland federal court awarded Skanska USA Building, Inc. (“Skanska”) compensatory damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, and litigation expenses including attorney and expert fees in its suit against subcontractor J.D. Long Masonry, Inc. (“Long”) for defective masonry work at a Johns Hopkins University research facility.

Continue Reading Maryland Federal Court Upholds Contractual Indemnity Clause and Awards Judgment Interest and Attorneys Fees in Masonry Suit

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

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

Winger Contr. Co. v. Cargill, Inc., No. 17-1169, 2019 BL 132092 (Iowa Apr. 12, 2019).

On April 12, 2019, the Iowa Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling which held that, inter alia, the Iowa mechanic’s lien statute would not permit the attachment of mechanic’s liens to the property of a lessor in connection with a contract to supply materials and labor to a lessee.

Continue Reading The Lessor of Two Evils: Iowa Supreme Court Holds That Mechanic’s Liens Will Not Attach to the Property of a Lessor for Work Authorized by a Lessee

Westfield Ins. Co. v. Weaver Cooke Constr., LLC, 2019 BL 129431 (E.D.N.C. Apr. 11, 2019)

This case arises out of the alleged defective construction of a condominium complex in North Carolina.  In 2009, the developer on the project filed suit for the alleged construction defects.  This related coverage lawsuit then ensued between the parties’ insurers regarding a duty to defend the general contractor.

Continue Reading Federal Court in North Carolina Enforces Insurers’ Duty to Defend a General Contractor as an Additional Named Insured Under the Subcontractor’s Commercial General Liability Policy

A.E. Rosen Elec. Co. v. Plank, LLC, No. 07862-7, 2019 BL 113951 (Sup. Ct. Mar. 01, 2019)

On March 1, 2019, the Supreme Court of New York, Albany County, granted a subcontractor’s motion for summary judgment on a payment dispute involving a “pay-when-paid” contract provision.

Defendant Plank, LLC (“Contractor”) entered into a construction contract with Dutch Village, LLC (“Owner”) to act as the general contractor for the construction of four apartment buildings (“Project”).  Thereafter, Contractor entered into a subcontract with Plaintiff A.E. Rosen Electrical, Inc. (“Subcontractor”) for electrical work on the Project.  After nine months of work on the Project, a payment dispute arose between the Owner and Contractor.  At that time, Contractor directed the Subcontractor to cease work on the Project.

Continue Reading New York Supreme Court Granted Summary Judgment for Subcontractor Where Contractor Attempted to Utilize Contractual “Pay-When-Paid” Provision to Unreasonably Withhold Payment from Subcontractor