In United States ex rel. Aarow/IET LLC v. Hartford Fire Insurance Company, an electrical subcontractor sued a general contractor and the payment bond surety for $2.9 million in additional labor costs incurred on a federal government project. The subcontractor alleged that the general contractor mismanaged the project and disrupted the subcontractor’s work. The general contractor filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted because, among other reasons, the trial court believed that a no-damages-for-delay clause in the parties’ contract barred the subcontractor’s claim.
Contractors and subcontractors that incur increased costs to complete their work due to delay or other impacts on a project sometimes have difficulty proving their damages. There are various ways to calculate those damages, but the surest way to have a claim rejected is by asserting a total cost claim.
After a general contractor on a federal government project allegedly terminated a subcontractor’s contract for convenience, the subcontractor sued the payment bond surety for the amounts owed to the subcontractor. In Maguire-O’Hara Construction, Inc. v. Cool Roofing Systems, Inc., the subcontractor claimed the surety was liable for the unpaid remaining balance on the subcontract of nearly $2.6 million, even though the subcontractor was only owed about $360,000 for completed work. The surety filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings seeking dismissal of the subcontractor’s $2.6 million claim, which asked the court to determine whether the subcontractor could assert a claim against the surety for unperformed work. The court’s answer? No way.
This is the third post in a five-part series about the most common reasons for winning GAO bid protests. The third most common reason for winning a bid protest is when an agency fails to follow the evaluation criteria stated in a solicitation for proposals.
As an example, in McGoldrick Construction Services Corporation, B- 409252.2 (Comp.Gen Mar. 28, 2014), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a solicitation for construction and maintenance services. The proposal was structured as a two-phase evaluation. In the first phase, the bidders would be whittled down to a few qualified bidders that would compete for the award in the second phase.
The Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal recently held that a trial court properly apportioned a public owner’s damages among a program manager, engineering firm, and contractor. See Broward County, Fla. v. CH2M Hill, Inc., No. 4D18-3401 (Fla. 4th DCA July 22, 2020). In CH2M, a contractor agreed to construct an airport taxiway project for Broward County. After being used for about eight months, the taxiway started showing indentations in the surface. Ultimately, the County, the engineering firm that designed the project, the program manager that oversaw construction of the project, and the contractor that built the project went to trial over who was responsible for the defective taxiway.
Many construction projects are getting larger and more complex. This is especially true for public-works projects. Joint ventures allow one or more contractors to make a combined effort to obtain and complete projects.
There can be many benefits to forming a joint venture to bid on a project. A joint venture can allow one or more contractors to spread the financial risk of a project. Joint ventures can also allow two contractors with different specialties to join forces to bid on a project that requires the experience of both contractors. Finally, a joint venture can increase the bonding capacity of contractors to allow them to bid on larger projects that may otherwise be out of reach.
(This post was included in the Florida Transportation Builders’ Association weekly newsletter.)
As contractors work through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many contractors have been impacted in their ability to timely and efficiently complete projects. COVID-19 impacts to a project may result in increased completion costs, including labor inefficiencies, increased equipment costs, and additional material costs. A contractor may attempt to seek those increased costs from the project owner, a subcontractor, or an insurer.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is gaining speed and construction projects across the country and in Florida have reportedly been slowing or shut down as a result. It’s time for construction contractors, including those working on government projects, to consider whether they will be entitled to additional money and/or time on their projects. In this post, we will take a brief look at how things might shake out on federal government and Florida Department of Transportation (“FDOT”) projects.
If you are an unpaid sub-subcontractor on a federal government project, don’t forget to provide notice of your claim to the general contractor within 90 days and file a lawsuit no later than one year after last furnishing labor or material to the project or you will lose your payment bond rights. That’s exactly what happened in a recent federal court decision in which a sub-subcontractor lost its right to assert its $8.5 million claim against the co-sureties that issued a payment bond because the sub-subcontractor failed to give notice within 90 days and file a lawsuit within one year of last furnishing labor or material on a federal government project.
The Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) releases an annual report to Congress. In the report, the GAO lists the most common reasons for sustaining bid protests, which vary from year to year. There are usually about five reasons bid protests are successful.