Best Practices Construction Law

Best Practices Construction Law

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Matt has written articles and given presentations on all aspects of construction law. Find a resource here.

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Best Practices top posts include claims preparation, contract drafting, and litigation pitfalls. You don’t want to miss these ones.

Matthew DeVries

Matt is a construction & litigation attorney at Burr & Forman LLP and father of seven young kids.

Category Archives: Case Law

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Provide Notice (and 10 Other Tasks) When Pursuing a Construction Claim

Posted in Best Practices, Case Law, Claims and Disputes, Project Management, Scheduling
When dealing with construction claims—whether one for construction defects, outstanding payment, or delay damages—an initial hurdle is making sure that proper notice has been given.  Generally, you have to make sure that you comply with the contract or insurance provisions by: (1) giving written notice of the claim; (2) to the correct party; (3) within… Continue Reading

Which Insurance Carrier Is Responsible for Damages on a Construction Project? Depends.

Posted in Best Practices, Case Law, Legal Trends
There are multiple types of insurance coverage for the various risks on a construction project.  However, when there are multiple insurance carriers covering the same risk (i.e., general liability, builder’s risk, workers’ compensation, professional liability) over different periods of time, there may be a dispute as to which carrier covers the loss. In a recent… Continue Reading

What the Supreme Court’s Decision on the Same-Sex Marriage Ban Means to Contractors?

Posted in Case Law, Legal Trends
Absolutely nothing! … to contractors that is … but to employers … a different answer. Okay, so the Supreme Court recently ruled that state laws banning same sex marriage are unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. You may have your own personal opinion against or in support of the Supreme Court’s… Continue Reading

“New” Means “New” When the Construction Contract Says “New”

Posted in Best Practices, Case Law, Federal Construction, Legal Trends
There’s “new.” And there’s “new to you.” And there’s “refurbished new.” And there’s “open box special new.” And there’s “floor display model new.”  But when it comes to contract specifications requiring “new” equipment, one court looked to a dictionary to define it as “never used before” and “free of significant damage.” In a recent case,… Continue Reading

Government Contractors: Threatening to File a Claim is Not the Same as Filing a Claim

Posted in Case Law, Claims and Disputes, Federal Construction, Legal Trends
Words matter. Grammar matters. Even punctuation matters: Let’s eat, Grandma! Let’s eat Grandma! For one government contractor, its claim was recently rejected by the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals because the Board found that the Contractor did not properly state its claim.  In Construction Group LLC v. Dept. of Homeland Security, 15-1 BCA para. 35900… Continue Reading

Contractor Submits “Penny Bid” for Rock Removal and Loses in the End

Posted in Case Law, Contract Docs, Legal Trends
In our house of seven children, a penny found on the ground brings laughter and excitement. You can imagine the opposite reaction when a contractor bids a penny for rock removal for a competitive bid and later discovers that there was 250% more rock than anticipated. That’s what happened recently in Celco Construction Corp. v.… Continue Reading

Brrrrrr, It’s Cold! How to Best Prepare a Delay Claim for Unusually Severe Weather

Posted in Best Practices, Case Law, Claims and Disputes, Federal Construction, Transportation
In anticipation of what could be an influx of wintry weather, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has made arrangements to ensure the state’s roadways stay clear. According to the Johnson City Press, TDOT has distributed more than 200,000 tons of salt and 2 million gallons of brine to stations in each of the state’s 95… Continue Reading

Are Construction Dispute Claims by the State Ever Time Barred? Depends.

Posted in Case Law, Federal Construction, Legal Trends
I have written before about statutes of limitation and statutes of repose relating to construction disputes. I recently learned that these principles may not apply to a public owner’s claims against design professionals and contractors. Statutes of limitation/repose?  In its simplest terms, a statute of limitation is a time limit for bringing a lawsuit (i.e.,… Continue Reading

Differing Site Conditions and Why You Should Read Pages 17-20 of the Metcalf Decision

Posted in Best Practices, Case Law, Federal Construction, Legal Trends
It’s Friday morning and there are probably better things you would like to do with your remaining day than read a 22-page government contracts decision. But if you have ever experienced a differing site condition on your project, then here is why you should read pages 17-20 of the recent decision in Metcalf Construction Company… Continue Reading

Don’t Settle Your Construction Dispute Without Checking with the (Insurance) Man

Posted in Best Practices, Case Law, Legal Trends
Who’s the Man?  Ever heard of that phrase?  Well, in a recent construction dispute in Maryland, “the Man” was the owner’s insurance company.  And the lesson learned was: don’t settle your construction dispute without first checking with the man! In Perini/Tompkins Joint Venture v. ACE American Insurance Company (pdf), applying Maryland and Tennessee law, the… Continue Reading

A Fine Line: What the Law Says about Contractor Delays to Subcontractor Work

Posted in Case Law
As a general proposition, if the owner delays the prime contractor by not performing its contractual obligations, the prime contractor is entitled to relief, including damages for delay or extensions of time. This is actually a rather common situation and most contracts contain clauses and provisions that govern such occasions. But what happens when the… Continue Reading

Are Electronic Toll Collection Systems Subject to Competitive Bidding?

Posted in Case Law, Federal Construction, Tennessee, Transportation, VA, DC, MD
I was working in our Virginia office this past week and was amazed at the amount of highway construction at and around Tyson’s Corner.  What also caught my attention was the progress of the 495 Express Lanes project, which includes the construction of high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes that will operate on the I-495/Capital Beltway.… Continue Reading

2011 Construction Law Update Is Available

Posted in Case Law
One of the largest groups for construction lawyers is the American Bar Association’s Forum on the Construction Industry.  In the weeks leading up to to the Forum’s 2012 annual meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada last month, a number of construction attorneys and I were feverishly reviewing submissions for Division 10’s annual Construction Law Update.  The document is a… Continue Reading

Does a Construction Manager Have a Legal Duty for Site Safety?

Posted in Case Law
Today’s guest post is written by Joe Hardesty, who handles complex litigation in construction and business disputes. He has defended and prosecuted claims for clients arising from major construction projects throughout the country, surety disputes, commercial real estate disputes and a variety of disputes arising from business transactions. He also advises clients on matters related… Continue Reading

The Supremes Side with Road Builders in Clean Water Act Case

Posted in Case Law, Transportation
I had an admiralty professor at law school who would often refer to the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States as ... get this ... the Supremes! In honor of Professor Jones, today's post is about the Supremes decision in PPL Montana, LLC v. Montana, where the court declined to expand the definition of "navigable" under federal law.… Continue Reading

End of the Road for One Highway Contractor’s Claim

Posted in Case Law, Federal Construction, Tennessee, Transportation
Words matter. Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Tennessee released its decision in a construction dispute between Ray Bell Construction Company and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.  Where the contractor won the first two rounds at the trial court and intermediate appellate court levels, TDOT prevailed in the final appeal. The Dispute.  The primary issue in… Continue Reading

Ghostly Voice: “Tennessee Supreme Court Addresses Non-Delegable Duties to Subcontractors”

Posted in Case Law, Tennessee
Happy Halloween!  Today’s post is not about ghosts, ghouls and goblins, though.  It’s much scarier … it’s about contractors, subcontractors and insurance companies! (….shriek….) In a noteworthy decision issued last week, the Tennessee Supreme Court held that all construction contracts have an implied duty on part of the contractor to perform in a "careful, skillful,… Continue Reading