Category: Construction Litigation

Missed the Starting Gun? Application of the Statute of Repose in Construction and Defective Product Cases 0

Missed the Starting Gun? Application of the Statute of Repose in Construction and Defective Product Cases

On April 30, 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided State of New Jersey v. Perini Corporation, et al., which is likely to become a seminal case on how the ten-year limitations period of New Jersey’s Statute of Repose is applied in construction cases, in particular those involving multi-phase projects. The Perini case is also noteworthy for its ruling that the statute of repose does not apply to claims against manufacturers and suppliers of allegedly defective materials supplied on a project.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Holds that General Contractor was Immune from Suit by Employee of Subcontractor Under Workers’ Compensation “Statutory Employer” Doctrine 0

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Holds that General Contractor was Immune from Suit by Employee of Subcontractor Under Workers’ Compensation “Statutory Employer” Doctrine

In a case which has attracted a great deal of attention from construction and insurance industry groups, and prodded the filing of numerous amici curiae briefs, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Patton v. Worthington Associates, overturned a $1.5 million jury verdict and ruled in favor of the defendant general contractor based on the “statutory employer” immunity doctrine under Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act (the “Act”).






New Jersey Appellate Division Issues Two Opinions Clarifying Local Public Contracts Law 0

New Jersey Appellate Division Issues Two Opinions Clarifying Local Public Contracts Law

In recent months the New Jersey Appellate Division issued two opinions clarifying aspects of the New Jersey Local Public Contracts Law, which generally mandates that contracts above a specified amount be awarded by municipalities to the lowest responsible bidder after public advertising for bids and bidding, N.J.S.A. § 40A:11-4, and also sets forth specific, non-waiveable bid requirements, the absence of which will result in a per se disqualification of the bid. N.J.S.A. § 40A:11-23.2.






The Limited “Refund” Remedy Under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act Does Not Apply to Violations of the Home Improvement Practices or Home Improvement Contractor Registration Regulations 0

The Limited “Refund” Remedy Under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act Does Not Apply to Violations of the Home Improvement Practices or Home Improvement Contractor Registration Regulations

The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (“CFA”) provides powerful remedies that can be used by aggrieved parties to a construction contract. While the treble damages and attorneys’ fees remedies have traditionally received greater attention by parties and the courts, the CFA also references a refund remedy in N.J.S.A. §§ 56:8-2.11, -2.12 that aggrieved consumers have relied upon to seek refunds of amounts paid under construction contracts that violated the CFA, particularly where they had not been able to demonstrate an ascertainable loss entitling them to treble damages. However, the recent Appellate Division decision in Logatto v. Lipsky effectively eliminates the availability of the refund remedy in virtually all CFA cases, including cases arising out of construction contracts, as well as those involving alleged violations of the Home Improvement Practices and Home Improvement Contractor Registration regulations.






Prejudgment Interest on Claims for Consequential Damages for Breach of  Contract are not Recoverable as of Right Under Pennsylvania Law 0

Prejudgment Interest on Claims for Consequential Damages for Breach of Contract are not Recoverable as of Right Under Pennsylvania Law

Parties often specify in their construction contracts what amounts are recoverable for various events of breach. These provisions can impact not only the award of damages, but also whether amounts should be added to the award for recovery of prejudgment interest under Pennsylvania law. In Cresci Construction Services, Inc. v. James H. Martin, the Pennsylvania Superior Court considered the circumstances under which recovery of prejudgment interest is mandatory as opposed to discretionary. In that case, the plaintiff contractor brought suit against the defendant homeowner, and the homeowner counterclaimed for breach of contract.






New Jersey’s Prompt Payment Act Does Not Apply to Contracts for the Upkeep and Maintenance of Land 0

New Jersey’s Prompt Payment Act Does Not Apply to Contracts for the Upkeep and Maintenance of Land

New Jersey’s Prompt Payment Act (“PPA”) can be a valuable tool available to contractors, subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, and product suppliers that are owed money on New Jersey construction projects, as aggrieved parties can recover interest on unpaid amounts at prime plus one (1%) percent in the event payment is not made within the time period provided by the PPA and attorneys’ fees. N.J.S.A. § 2A:30A-2. In TBI Unlimited, LLC v. Clearcut Lawn Decisions, LLC, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey considered the scope of the PPA, which is only the subject of a handful of written opinions.






Expert Witness Selection: Choosing an Expert Without the Right Experience Can Be Fatal to a Claim 0

Expert Witness Selection: Choosing an Expert Without the Right Experience Can Be Fatal to a Claim

The selection of an expert witness can be critical to the outcome of a construction dispute. A well-qualified and strong expert witness can be essential to a party prevailing on its claim or defense. Conversely, as the recent New Jersey Appellate Division decision in Wellinghorst v. Arnott, highlights, retaining the wrong expert can have significant negative consequences and potentially result in the dismissal of a claim.






Contracting Around the Discovery Rule: The Oregon Court of Appeals Enforces a Clause in a Construction Contract That Defined the Date of Accrual 0

Contracting Around the Discovery Rule: The Oregon Court of Appeals Enforces a Clause in a Construction Contract That Defined the Date of Accrual

Parties to construction contracts often include provisions that set forth time frames to file actions arising out of the contract that are different than the applicable statute of limitations. In the absence of any statutory prohibition, contract provisions limiting the time to file an action to less than the applicable statute of limitations are generally enforceable provided the time frame is reasonable. Although perhaps less common, some construction contracts include provisions that attempt to define when the applicable limitations period begins to run (i.e. when causes of action arising out of the contract accrue).






A Contractor’s Repair Estimate Provides Evidence of an Ascertainable Loss Under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act 0

A Contractor’s Repair Estimate Provides Evidence of an Ascertainable Loss Under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act

The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (“CFA”) allows parties to recover damages if they have suffered an ascertainable loss. See N.J.S.A. 56:8-19. In the recent decision from the New Jersey Appellate Division, Pope v. Craftsman Builders, Inc., the court considered the type of evidence that can provide proof of an ascertainable loss in the context of a CFA claim involving a construction project.






Not All Wrongs are the Same: The Florida Supreme Court Holds That a Contractor That Knowingly Hires an Unlicensed Subcontractor Can Recover for Breach of Contract Against That Subcontractor 0

Not All Wrongs are the Same: The Florida Supreme Court Holds That a Contractor That Knowingly Hires an Unlicensed Subcontractor Can Recover for Breach of Contract Against That Subcontractor

Like other states, Florida regulates parties in the construction industry and requires that contractors performing certain work be properly licensed. See Flor. Stat. Ch. 489. If an unlicensed contractor enters into a construction contract it cannot enforce that contract. See Flor. Stat. Ch. 489.128. In the recent decision in Earth Trades, Inc. v. T&G Corp., the Florida Supreme Court considered the impact of this law in a contract dispute between an unlicensed subcontractor and a general contractor, where the subcontractor claimed that the general contractor knew that it was unlicensed.