Case Study
 

Six months into a nine month construction project, the contractor was three months behind. With over two thousand members eagerly awaiting the beginning of the summer swim season, the recreation club’s Board of Directors was in a jam. At this rate the locker room, reception area, and snack bar building would not be completed and the pool would not open for Memorial Day. Members would be in full-throated rebellion. 

 

Lars Liebeler PC attorneys analyzed the situation. Fortunately, a very savvy architect had carefully documented the contractor’s failure to conform to the time schedule set forth in the construction contract. After providing a required notice to cure, the firm terminated the contractor for cause, and with Attorney Lars Liebeler driving the forklift, secured valuable fixtures and equipment that the Club had already paid for. A replacement contractor was rushed into place and the pool house building was completed just in time for Summer. 

 

But the legal battle had just begun. The terminated contractor initiated an arbitration against the Club, alleging that it was unjustly thrown off the job. It claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. The Liebeler Law Firm responded with a counterclaim, demonstrating that the contractor’s breach had instead cost the Club thousands of dollars in completion damages. 

 

After four days of testimony from the contractor, architect and expert witnesses, the arbitrator rendered his decision. The contractor’s claims were rejected; the Club’s counterclaim was granted. Lars Liebeler PC successfully collected every penny of damages for the Club.

 

Principles
 
  • Any entity contemplating a construction project of any size should consult with an experienced attorney at the contract formation stage. All projects are different, and all provisions of a construction contract are negotiable. Make sure the contract fits the job and the level of risk involved. 

  • Most construction contracts, including nearly all AIA form contracts have very specific dispute resolution provisions. Consult with your attorney to insure that all requirements have been met. 

  •  A project that gets off track can quickly turn into a large problem, with dire financial consequences. Act quickly and decisively to head off problems when they first appear. Proper documentation of progress, or lack thereof, is essential. 

  • Construction disputes are typically subject to arbitration clauses. The forum for the assertion of and defense of subcontractor and materialmen’s liens is state court. Your attorney should be familiar with the procedures in both forums. 

  • Any entity contemplating a construction project of any size should consult with an experienced attorney at the contract formation stage. All projects are different, and all provisions of a construction contract are negotiable. Make sure the contract fits the job and the level of risk involved.

  • Most construction contracts, including nearly all AIA form contracts have very specific dispute resolution provisions. Consult with your attorney to insure that all requirements have been met.

  • A project that gets off track can quickly turn into a large problem, with dire financial consequences. Act quickly and decisively to head off problems when they first appear. Proper documentation of progress, or lack thereof, is essential.

  • Construction disputes are typically subject to arbitration clauses. The forum for the assertion of and defense of subcontractor and materialmen’s liens is state court. Your attorney should be familiar with the procedures in both forums.

He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.

 

GEORGE S. PATTON

Construction