Montano Elec. Contractor v. United States, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 5928 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 13, 2015)

The Army Corps of Engineers (“the Corps”) hired a general contractor, who subcontracted certain electrical work to Montano (“Subcontractor”).  When Subcontractor was not paid for its work, Subcontractor sought assistance from the Corps’ contracting officer, who explained that he was unable to assist because Subcontractor did not have a contract with the government and the government was thus not a party to Subcontractor’s dispute; however, Subcontractor should pursue any claims it had against the general contractor in federal district court under the Miller Act.


Continue Reading Federal Circuit Court Affirms that Federal Claims Court Lacks Jurisdiction Over Claims By Subcontractor

Curtiss-Manes-Schulte, Inc. v. Safeco Insurance Company, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10032 (W.D. Mo. 2015)

NOTE:  THIS DECISION WAS VACATED ON REHEARING AND THE DECISION ON REHEARING WILL BE THE SUBJECT OF A POST TO BE PRESENTED SHORTLY IN CONSTRUCTLAW.

This dispute between a general contractor and its subcontractor’s performance bond surety arose out of a renovation project at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.  On October 19, 2010, the general contractor, Curtiss-Manes-Schulte, Inc. (“CMS”), entered into a subcontract with Balkenbush Mechanical, Inc. to replace the air conditioning system on the project.  A week later, Balkenbush obtained the required performance bond from Safeco Insurance Company of American.

By October 2011, CMS knew that Balkenbush was behind schedule.  In July 2012, CMS responded to a Contract Bond Status Inquiry and informed Safeco that the contract was not complete, that Balkenbush’s work was not progressing satisfactorily, that the project was nine months late, and that liquidated damages would be assessed.  Around the same time, Safeco hired consultants and a law firm to investigate, defend and resolve claims made against four performance bonds Safeco issued to Balkenbush on other projects.  In December 2012, Safeco filed a lawsuit against Balkenbush to recover its losses resulting from the claims on the four other performance bonds.  One month later, in January 2013, Balkenbush filed a bankruptcy petition and Safeco’s counsel entered their appearance in that proceeding.


Continue Reading Federal District Court Holds that General Contractor’s Failure to Provide Notice of Default Does Not Preclude Recovery on Performance Bond

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

Frontier Contr. Inc. v. Allen Eng’g Contr., Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136474 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 2014)

Frontier Contracting Inc. (Frontier) entered into a teaming agreement with Allen Engineering Contractor, Inc. (Allen) to complete two U.S. Federal Highway projects in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  During the course of the projects, disputes arose and Allen refused to issue full payments to Frontier.  Frontier then filed a complaint against Allen alleging, in part, a Miller Act claim.


Continue Reading U.S. District in California Discusses Distinctions between Joint Ventures and Subcontractor Relationships for Miller Act Purposes

Laquila Grp., Inc. v. Hunt Constr. Grp., Inc., 2014 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2824 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. June 25, 2014)

This action arose out of a payment dispute following construction of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.  General contractor Hunt Construction Group, Inc. (“Hunt”) retained Laquila Group, Inc. (“Laquila) as a subcontractor to perform excavation and foundation work for the project.  The parties executed a subcontract whereby Laquila would perform the work for $27.5 million with the understanding that the work had to be completed in a timely manner due to events at Barclays already scheduled around the completion date.  The subcontract further specified that Hunt was not liable to Laquila for any additional costs or changes in the work absent a written change order.

The project experienced various complications, which resulted in the parties entering into numerous change orders.  Hunt paid Laquila the money due under the original $27.5 million subcontract, plus payments covering the change orders.  Each change order executed by Laquila contained the clause, “[a]cceptance of this Change Order constitutes a waiver of any claim, additional compensation and time whatsoever in relationship to the items covered under this Change Order.”  Moreover, with each progress payment, Laquila submitted releases and a “Partial Waiver of Claims” including a waiver of liens that confirmed that it had been properly paid for its work.


Continue Reading New York Court Rules that Excavator’s Suit Against GC May Proceed Despite Releases It Provided with Progress Billings

United States ex rel. Heggem-Lundquist Paint Co. v. Centerre Gov’t Contracting Grp., LLC, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66161 (D. Colo. Apr. 23, 2014) 
 Am. Constr. & Envtl. Servs. v. Total Team Constr. Servs., Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57467 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 23, 2014)

Federal district courts for the District of Colorado and the Eastern District of California have ruled  subcontract provisions that disputes will be resolved in accordance with the dispute resolution provisions in a prime contract are insufficient to waive or postpone a subcontractor’s Miller Act rights.

These cases involved claims asserted by subcontractors (collectively “Plaintiffs”) against the upstream contractors and their sureties (collectively “Defendants”) for work performed on federal government projects.  The plaintiff in Haggem-Lundquist performed as a sub-subcontractor on a Department of Veterans Affairs renovation project at a medical center in Denver, Colorado.  The plaintiff in Am. Constr. & Envtl. Servs. performed as a subcontractor in support of a contract with the Army Corps of Engineers to replace emergency generators at a Veterans Administration Care Facility in Fresno, California.  In both actions, Plaintiffs filed claims against the bonds issued for the projects pursuant to the Miller Act to recover money allegedly owed for changed and additional work performed.


Continue Reading District Courts in California and Colorado Hold Subcontract References to Prime Contract Disputes Procedures Do Not Waive Miller Act Rights

Window Specialists, Inc. v. Forney Enterprises, Inc.,
2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34702 (D.D.C. March 18, 2014)

This dispute arises out of a construction contract to repair property at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.  The Army contracted with a general contractor, IIU Consulting Institute, who in turn contracted with defendant subcontractor, Forney Enterprises.  Forney entered into a sub-subcontract with plaintiff Window Specialists, Inc. for the labor and materials to supply and install over 680 windows and over 60 doors on the project.  During the course of the project, the Army issued a 10-day cure notice identifying numerous issues with the general contractor’s demolition of existing windows and Window Specialists’ installation of new windows.  Ultimately, Forney terminated the contract with Window Specialists and the general contractor had to demolish, re-order, and re-install all of Window Specialists’ work on the project.
Window Specialists filed suit against Forney, the general contractor, the general contractor’s payment bond surety, and the Secretary of the Army, bringing claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, a payment bond claim, and for injunctive relief.  Forney filed two counterclaims against Window Specialists, one for breach of contract and one seeking indemnification related to the costs the general contractor incurred replacing Window Specialists’ work.


Continue Reading Federal District Court for DC Rejects Subcontractor’s Pass-Through of General Contractor’s Claim to Sub-Subcontractor

United States of America ex rel Duncan Pipeline, Inc. v. Walbridge Aldinger Co.
2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45982 ( S.D. Ga. Mar. 29, 2011)

This action arose out of a subcontractor’s claim for additional compensation for extra work. Walbridge Aldinger Co. (“Walbridge”), general contractor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on construction project at Fort Stewart in Georgia (the “Project”), entered into a subcontract with Duncan Pipeline, Inc. (“Duncan”). Pursuant to the subcontract, Duncan was to supply labor and material for the Project’s water distribution system. Duncan began its work in August 2009, and shortly thereafter, Walbridge ordered work that Duncan considered to be outside the scope of the subcontract, including installation of bell restraints, additional excavation work, and remobilization of crews because of interferences encountered during excavation. Duncan performed the allegedly extra work in August and September 2009, and submitted a bond claim to Walbridge and its surety in May 2010.


Continue Reading U.S. District Court in Georgia Considers Effect of Releases Submitted with Applications for Payment, Notice Requirement as to Extra Work and Defective Specification Claims and No-Damage for Delay Provision

Josef Gartner USA LP v. Consigli Construction Co., Inc.
2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62492 (D. Mass. June 10, 2011)

Consigli Construction and J. F. White Contracting, as joint venturers and general contractors, contracted with Josef Gartner USA for the design, fabrication, and installation of a curtain wall at the Cambridge Public Library. This subcontract provided for periodic payments to Gartner, contingent upon Gartner’s submission of evidence to Consigli/JFW that all known indebtedness connected with Gartner’s work had been satisfied. The subcontract also provided that Gartner would be entitled to additional compensation due to delays and out-of-sequence work.


Continue Reading U.S. District Court in Massachusetts Declines Summary Judgment Based on Releases Submitted with Pay Requests – Holds Issue of Fact Exists as to Interpretation

Larry Snyder & Co. v. Miller
648 F.3d 1156 (10th Cir. 2011)

The Tenth Circuit held a repair warranty in a subcontract (the “repair clause”) limited the subcontractor’s repair obligations for failed paving work notwithstanding the flow-through of the prime contract’s “full satisfaction” clause.


Continue Reading Tenth Circuit Holds Flow Through of “Full Satisfaction” Clause of Prime Contract Does Not Override Limited Repair Clause of Subcontract