Category: Contract Claims

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”).

Contractor’s Violation of Pennsylvania’s HICPA Registration Requirement Does Not Bar Quantum Meruit or Mechanics Lien Claims 0

Contractor’s Violation of Pennsylvania’s HICPA Registration Requirement Does Not Bar Quantum Meruit or Mechanics Lien Claims

The Pennsylvania Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, 73 P.S. § 517.1, et. seq. (“HICPA”), became effective on July 1, 2009. The HICPA is designed to protect purchasers of home improvement services from contractors engaging in fraudulent business practices. It requires contractors who perform more than $5,000 of work per year, and whose company is worth less than $50,000,000, to register with the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General (“OAG”), and comply with HICPA’s substantive requirements. The HICPA requires contractors to enter into written contracts for performance of improvements, specifies provisions which must be included in the written contract (§ 517.7(a)), and identifies other provisions the inclusion of which makes the contract voidable by the owner (§ 517.7(e)). Finally, certain acts on the part of contractors, including failure to register with the OAG (id. § 517.9) are prohibited by the HICPA, which sets forth criminal penalties for fraud (§ 517.8). Significantly, a violation of the Act is also deemed to be a violation of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 P.S. § 201-1 et. seq.

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.