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

Parkcrest Builders, LLC v. Hous. Auth. of New Orleans, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125012 (E.D. La. August 8, 2017)

The Housing Authority of New Orleans (“the Authority”) contracted with Parkcrest Builders, LLC (“Parkcrest”) to construct a public housing project.  The Project was delayed and the Authority terminated Parkcrest prior to completion, and entered into a Takeover Agreement with Parkcrest’s Surety.  The Surety retained Parkcrest to complete the work, and later notified the Authority that it had achieved substantial completion.  The Authority asserted deficient and incomplete items remained on the project, which the Surety refused to complete.  The Authority then solicited bids for the remaining work, and awarded the work to a replacement contractor.

Parkcrest sued the Authority for breach of contract and also asserted that any delays on the Project were excusable and, therefore, not subject to liquidated damages.  The Authority counterclaimed against Parkcrest for added costs to complete the project.  The Surety intervened, also seeking a ruling that all delays were excusable.  The Authority then counterclaimed against the Surety for completion costs.

Continue Reading Federal Court Holds That Under Louisiana Law, Actual Notice of Cause of Delay Satisfies Contractual Notice Requirement Despite Failure to Strictly Comply With the Notice Provision

Oceanside Pier View, L.P. v. Travelers Property Casualty Co. of American
2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37755 (S.D. Cal. May 6, 2008)
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California considered whether the basic coverage of a $28 million Builders Risk policy applied to the increased cost to complete construction of the unbuilt portion of a mixed use project attributable to delays which resulted from the failure of a shoring wall during construction. The court held that the basic Builders Risk coverage did not apply, and that coverage for increased costs of completing structures which were not under construction at the time of failure was subject to the $100,000 limit of “additional coverage” provided for “Expediting Costs and Additional Cost of Construction Materials and Labor”.
Continue Reading US District Court in California Holds Basic Builder’s Risk Coverage Inapplicable to Increased Cost Of Completing Portion Of Project Which Was Not Built At Time Of Failure – Rather Coverage of Such Losses Was Restricted to More Limited Additional Coverage Part

Construction Co, Inc. v. United States
2008 U.S. Claims LEXIS 137 (May 21, 2008)
The United States Court of Federal Claims discussed the measurement of equitable adjustment for standby equipment costs in a case involving the United States Department of the Navy.
Metric Construction Co. entered into two contracts with the Navy to perform construction work on the small island of San Nicolas off the coast of California. Under the first contract, Metric agreed to make improvements and repairs to the Navy’s airfield runway on the island. The second contract called for repairs to certain of the islands roadways and storm drainage systems. Certain conditions on the island created logistical challenges for Metric in performing the work. These included limited landing areas for barges carrying equipment, bad weather, and the existence of a salt water spray over the site.
Continue Reading Federal Claims Court Approves Contractor’s Use of Blue Book Rates to Calculate of Standby Equipment Costs in Constructive Change Claims Against the Navy

Caddell Construction Co., Inc. v. United States
2007 U.S. Claims LEXIS 285, No. 04-461C, (September 7, 2007)
The United States District Court of Federal Claims held that the design deficiencies alleged by the plaintiff contractor did not rise to the level of a breach of the implied warranty set forth under the Spearin Doctrine.
Plaintiff Caddell Construction Co. (“Plaintiff”) entered into a contract with the Department of Veteran Affairs (the “Government”) to modernize and strengthen the VA Medical center in Memphis, Tennessee. Plaintiff claimed on behalf of its steel fabrication subcontractor, Steel Service Corporation (“SSC”), that the Government provided structural steel drawings that contained conflicts, errors, omissions, and/or inadequate details which resulted in delay and additional costs to SSC.
Continue Reading US Claims Court Explains Limits of Spearin Doctrine – Denies Contractor Recovery Where Testimony Regarding Defective Design Was Conclusory

Central Ceilings, Inc. v. Nat’l Amusements, Inc.,
70 Mass. App. Ct. 172, 873 N.E.3d 754 (Sept. 18, 2007)
National Amusements, Inc., entered into a contract with Old Colony Construction Corporation for the construction of National’s cinema theater complex. Old Colony subsequently entered into a subcontract with the plaintiff, Central Ceilings, Inc., for a portion of the construction of the Project. Although delays made meeting the original completion date next to impossible, National stressed to Central its strong desire to have the theatre complex open for the Labor Day weekend. In response, Central made it clear to National that meeting such an aggressive completion date would require it to accelerate the work schedule. In addition, since Old Colony was experiencing cash flow problems and owed Central a substantial sum of money for work already completed, Central demanded assurances from National that it would be paid for its work before it would continue with the accelerated work on the Project. As a result, one of National’s agents orally agreed to pay Old Colony’s obligations to Central. Thereafter, Central completed its work and achieved substantial completion by August 25.
Continue Reading Massachusetts Court Holds Owner’s Oral Promise to Pay Subcontractor Enforceable Under Main Purpose Exception to Statute of Frauds

ACE Constructors, Inc. v. U.S.
2007 U.S. App. Lexis 22309 (Fed. Cir. September 19, 2007)
The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a contractor’s claim for additional compensation due to differing site conditions.
ACE Constructors, Inc. (“Contractor”) entered into a contract with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (“Government”) to build a structure designated as the Ammo Hot-Load Facility, at Biggs Army Airfield at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. The project included construction of a loading area for cargo planes, various roadways, buildings, a storage pad, a loading apron, and a taxiway for airplanes. The site contained hills and other terrain that needed to be excavated, leveled, and filled. The bid solicitation materials included architectural drawings and engineering specifications prepared for the government by the engineering firm of Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc., which plans were incorporated into the contract.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Court Of Appeals Upholds Claim For Differing Site Conditions

Hutton Contacting Company, Inc. v. City of Coffeyville
2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 9914, (10th Cir., April 30, 2007)
Contractor contracted to construct power and fiber-optic lines for the City. Upon completion of the project, the City refused to pay the final balance of the contract price, claiming that it was entitled to the funds as liquidated damages because the project was not completed on time. The Contractor sued to obtain the unpaid contract balance. The trial court ordered the City to pay the Contractor the retainage due minus $85,000 in liquidated damages. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, applying Kansas law, considered: 1) whether the contract’s force-majeure clause excused the Contractor for delays caused by late deliveries from its pole supplier; 2) whether the contract’s liquidated-damages provision was enforceable; and 3) whether the contract’s liquidated damages provision allowed the District Court to apportion delays between the Contractor and the City.
Continue Reading Tenth Circuit Holds Supplier Delay Does Not Excuse Contractor Delay Under Force Majeure Clause; Holds Liquidated Damages Provision Allows For Apportionment Of Damages Where Owner Responsible for Some Delays

Menorah Home and Hosp. for the Aged and Infirm v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co.
2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27684 (E.D.N.Y., April 13, 2007)
The District Court for the Eastern District of New York held that a liquidating agreement between an Owner and a Surety was valid and enforceable, even though it permitted the Owner to retain any recovery it obtained from the third-party, rather than having money pass-through to the surety.
The case arose out of a project to build and renovate facilities for Menorah Home and Hospital for the Aged and Infirm (“Owner”). The Owner entered into a contract with J.A. Jones Construction Group, LLC (“Jones”) for the Project. When Jones defaulted, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company (“FFIC”), Jones’ surety, took over and completed the Project. The Owner subsequently sued FFIC alleging that FFIC had breached its performance bond obligations by failing to complete the Project in a timely manner and correct deficiencies in the work performed by Jones.
Continue Reading NY District Court Enforces Liquidating Agreement Between Owner And Surety That Permitted Owner To Retain Recovery Obtained From Third Party To Satisfy Owner’s Claim For Damages Against Surety

Nello Construction Co. v. Commwth of PA, Dept of General Services
(Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Board of Claims, March 20, 2006)
Nello brought claims against the Department of General Services (“DGS”), arising from a contract entered into by Plaintiff and DGS on June 7, 2001, for the construction of a visitors’ center, museum, parking lot and other attendant facilities to be built in Beaver County, PA on behalf of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The initial value of the Contract was $ 2,433,000.00 and, with a contractually mandated duration of 335 days from the initial job conference within which to complete the work, the contemplated contract completion date was May 29, 2002. Because of various delays, final inspection on the project did not occur until January 30, 2003, 246 days past the contemplated contract completion date. Plaintiff requested damages of $ 462,010.48 for costs and expenses resulting from construction delays caused by Defendant’s actions and inactions.
Continue Reading PA Board of Claims Accepts Eichleay Damages Calculation for Home Office Overhead