Sovereign Immunity Bars Contractor’s Claims for Unjust Enrichment and Promissory Estoppel Against City Government on Semi-Public Project

Harakas Constr., Inc. v. Metro Gov’t of Nashville, 2018 Tenn. App. LEXIS 45 (Tenn. App. January 29, 2018)

 BK Partners LLC (“BK”) sought to build a condominium complex in Davidson County.  This required an upgrade to the existing public sewer system.  Therefore BK and the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (“Metro”) entered into an agreement whereby Metro agreed to contribute $200,000 to the cost of the sewer upgrade with BK responsible for the actual construction.  BK hired Harakas Construction, Inc. (“Harakas”) to upgrade the system (the “Project”).  Metro was not a party to that contract (the “Contract”).

Harakas encountered unforeseen soil conditions, which resulted in two change orders that increased the Contract amount.  Under the Contract, Metro was not required to authorize change orders; nevertheless, Metro was involved in the discussions.  Harakas performed the extra work and achieved substantial completion.  However, after a defect was discovered in the upgraded system, Metro refused to fund the Project.  When BK failed to pay Harakas, Harakas sued both Metro and BK.  Against Metro, Harakas claimed promissory estoppel and unjust enrichment.  The trial court granted Metro summary judgment based on sovereign immunity.  Continue reading

Posted in Promissory Estoppel, Sovereign Immunity, Unjust Enrichment | Tagged , ,

Supreme Court of North Dakota: Where Contract Provided That Either Party Could Cancel Upon 30 Days’ Notice, the Non-Breaching Party Seeking Lost Profits Could Only Recover the Lost Profits it Would Have Earned During the Notice Period

Cont’l Res. v. P&P Indus., LLC, 2018 N.D. Lexis 20 (January 22, 2018)

In 2013, Continental Resources Inc. (“Continental”), an oil producer doing business in North Dakota, entered into a master servicing agreement, governed by Oklahoma law, with United Oilfield Services (“United”).  According to the contract, United agreed to provide transportation, water hauling, and related support services to Continental in support of Continental’s ongoing operations in North Dakota.  The contract also contained the following termination provision: “[I]t being understood and agreed that either party hereto may cancel this Contract by giving the other party thirty (30) days written notice of such cancellation.”

Approximately a year after the parties signed the contract, Continental alleged that United (i) violated state and federal limits and regulations regarding the number of hours a truck driver may drive, (ii) violated Continental’s policy limiting the number of hours an employee could work in a day, and (iii) engaged in improper and fraudulent billing.  Following its discovery of United’s alleged misconduct, Continental terminated its contract and filed suit against United and other related entities. Continue reading

Posted in Damages, Termination | Tagged , , , , ,

Eleventh Circuit Holds That the Statute of Limitations on Payment Bond Claim Under Georgia Law Commences at Substantial Completion Rather Than Final Acceptance

Strickland v. Arch Ins. Co., No. 17-10610, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 504 (11th Cir. Jan. 9, 2018)

Strickland provided sand to a paving company (“Douglas”) for a Georgia Department of Transportation (“GDOT”) road improvement project (the “Project”).  Arch Insurance Company (“Arch”) issued payment and performance bonds on Douglas’s behalf.  In 2007, GDOT declared Douglas in default and removed it from the Project.  In accordance with the performance bond, Arch arranged for a third-party contractor to complete Douglas’s work on the Project. Strickland did not supply sand after Douglas’s removal.

In August 2010, GDOT determined that the Project was substantially complete, and in September 2010, performed final inspection and generated a punch list.  Arch’s contractor completed the punch list by September 2011.  In March 2012, GDOT accepted Project maintenance responsibilities because the Project had been satisfactorily completed as of September 2011.  GDOT made semi-final payment to Arch in July 2012.

In September 2012, Strickland sent a demand for payment on Arch’s payment bond.  Arch acknowledged the claim and asked for additional documentation.  Strickland did not respond.  In 2014, Strickland learned that GDOT was preparing to close out the Project and filed a lawsuit against Arch. Continue reading

Posted in Payment bond, Statute of Limitations | Tagged , , ,

California Supreme Court Clarifies That “Right to Repair Act” is Exclusive Remedy for Both Economic Loss and Property Damage Arising From Construction Defects

McMillin Albany LLC v. Superior Court, No. S229762, 2018 Cal. LEXIS 211 (Jan. 18, 2018)

Several homeowners (“Plaintiffs”) brought suit against developer/general contractor McMillin Albany LLC (“McMillin”) for alleged defective construction of new homes.  Plaintiffs alleged the defects caused property damage and economic loss in the form of repair costs and reduced property values, and asserted common law claims for negligence, strict product liability, breach of contract, and breach of warranty, and a statutory claim for violation of the construction standards outlined in the Right to Repair Act (Civ. Code §§ 895–945.5, the “Act”).  The Act defines standards for the construction of individual dwellings; governs various builder obligations, including provision of warranties; creates a prelitigation dispute resolution process; and describes mandatory procedures for lawsuits under the Act.  McMillin sought a stay of proceedings so that the parties could proceed through the Act’s prelitigation dispute process, which includes notice to the builder of defects and an opportunity to cure.  Plaintiffs refused to stipulate to the stay and instead, dismissed their statutory claim.  McMillin then sought a court-ordered stay which Plaintiffs contested, arguing that their suit now omitted any claim under the Act, and therefore, was not subject to its procedures. Continue reading

Posted in Defective Work | Tagged , , , ,

Federal Court in Mississippi Holds That Although Projects Were Constructed With Federal Funds, They Were Not “A Public Work of the Federal Government” and Therefore the Court Had No Jurisdiction Over a Subcontractor’s Claim Under the Miller Act, Where the United States Was Not a Contracting Party and the Projects Were Not Constructed on Federal Property

United States ex rel. Metro Mech., Inc. v. Triangle Constr. Co.,  2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1487 (S.D. Miss. Jan. 4, 2018)

Triangle Construction Company, Inc. (“Triangle”) contracted with Mississippi Portfolio Partners III, LP (“Mississippi Partners”) to serve as the prime contractor on four apartment complex construction projects (the “Projects”) in Mississippi.  Triangle subcontracted the HVAC and plumbing work to Metro Mechanical, Inc. (“Metro”).  After Metro completed its work, Metro filed suit in the Federal District Court under the Miller Act, to collect sums due from Triangle and its payment bond surety.  Triangle moved to dismiss, asserting that the Court was without Miller Act jurisdiction because the projects and contracting parties were private.

The Miller Act requires contractors on “public work[s] of the Federal Government” to obtain payment bonds for the protection of subcontractors and suppliers.  See 40 U.S.C. § 3131.  To that end, the Millers Act also creates a civil action in federal court in favor of any “person that has furnished labor or material in carrying out work provided for” under a Miller Act contract and “that has not paid in full within 90 days.” 40 U.S.C. 3133(b)(1).  The District Court applied two alternative tests to determine whether the Projects were “public works of the Federal Government subject to the Miller Act.” Continue reading

Posted in Miller Act, Payment bond | Tagged , , , , ,