Connecticut Appellate Court Holds That Owner’s Loss in Arbitration to General Contractor on Claims of Defective Work Operates as Res Judicata to Bar Owner’s Claim Against Subcontractors Who Were Not Parties to the Arbitration

Girolametti v. Michael Horton Assoc., 2017 Conn. App. Lexis 228 (June 6, 2017)

A General Contractor brought claims for unpaid added work, via mandatory arbitration, against a building owner who asserted defective work claims in response.  The Owner abandoned the arbitration mid-process after a partial presentation of its claims.  The arbitrator ruled in favor of the General Contractor, awarding $508,597 in damages, which was affirmed by the Superior Court and Appellate Court.  The Owner then attempted to bring the same defective work claims in state court against the General Contractor, its subcontractors, and the Owner’s testing company on the project.  The defendants all filed motions for summary judgment asserting the defenses of collateral estoppel and res judicata.

The trial court granted the General Contractor’s motion but denied the subcontractors’ and testing company’s motions on the basis that both collateral estoppel and res judicata required privity between those entities and the General Contractor.

The Court of Appeals discussed each motion in detail.  As to the Owner’s claims against the General Contractor, the Court found that the Owner’s complaint involved the same claims of design and installation defects as had been raised or could have been raised in the arbitration.  The Owner had a full and fair opportunity to present his claims against the General Contractor in arbitration.  Thus, the trial court’s grant of summary judgment was affirmed on the basis of res judicata. Continue reading

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Supreme Court of Wyoming Strictly Interprets a Conditional Payment Provision to Trigger Payment Only After GC and All of its Subs Have Been Paid in Full

P&N Invs. v. Frontier Mall Assocs., 2017 Wyo. LEXIS 62 (Wyo. 2017)

This payment dispute arose over conditional language in a lease agreement between a mall and a restaurant operator.  P&N Investments (“P&N”) leased space from Frontier Mall Associates, LP (“Mall”) to operate a restaurant.  The lease contained a “finish allowance” under which Mall agreed to cover some of P&N’s costs to renovate the space, up to $150,180.

The finish allowance was conditioned on the following provision:

[P&N] shall have furnished evidence satisfactory to Mall from its general contractor and any subcontractors that any and all liens that have been, or may be, filed have been satisfied of record or waived and an affidavit that all work has been paid for.

P&N hired CCI as its general contractor, and CCI in turn hired subcontractors, to renovate the space.  P&N paid CCI in full once CCI and its subcontractors completed the work.  The amount paid was $308,930.  CCI, however, failed to pay its subcontractors in full.  The unpaid amount was approximately $90,000.  Mall refused to pay P&N the finish allowance despite the fact that P&N paid CCI in full and submitted an affidavit stating that no liens were, or could be, filed because of time limitations for liens had expired.  Continue reading

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You Cannot Have it Both Ways: Missouri Appellate Court Holds City Cannot Bring a Complaint for Breach of a Contract and Plead in Response to a Counterclaim That the Same Contract Is Void

City of Dardenne Prairie v. Adams Concrete & Masonry, LLC, No. ED104982, 2017 Mo. App. LEXIS 533 (Mo. Ct. App. May 30, 2017)

This case arises out of a construction project in which the City of Dardenne Prairie (the “City”) purchased bricks for its construction of two buildings—a new city hall and a parks maintenance building—from Adams Concrete & Masonry, LLC (“ACM”).  In October 2008, the City enacted two ordinances authorizing the construction of the new city hall, but did not enact any ordinances authorizing the construction of the parks maintenance building.  Such authorization—and approval—by the City’s Board of Aldermen (“Board”) is required by law for public projects in Missouri.  Nevertheless, the City executed an agreement with ACM for the purchase of bricks and provision of masonry work for both projects.  In November 2009, the City paid ACM in full for all of the bricks.  But in December 2010, the City decided not to construct its parks maintenance building and thus, the bricks for it were never delivered.

In 2014, the City contacted ACM regarding the location of the undelivered bricks.  Upon learning that ACM’s fabricator had already resold the bricks, the City sued ACM for breach of contract to recover the cost of the undelivered bricks, averring that ACM had breached its purchase agreement by failing to deliver the materials.  ACM counterclaimed for breach of contract, claiming that the City was in breach by cancelling the construction of the parks maintenance building, thereby preventing ACM from completing its masonry work.  The City raised an affirmative defense, asserting that its agreement with ACM had not been approved by the City’s Board as required and thus was not enforceable.  ACM seized on the City’s assertion and moved for judgment on the pleadings arguing that, through this affirmative defense, the City admitted that its Board had not approved the agreement, and thus, the agreement was void and the City, too, was barred from recovering for breach of a contract that never existed.  The trial court sustained ACM’s motion and dismissed the claim and counterclaim. Continue reading

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Actual Notice Exception to Pre-Lien Notice Requirement of Nevada Lien Statute Does Not Apply to Architect’s Offsite Work When No Onsite Work Has Been Performed Even Though Owner Knew That Architect Was Performing Work for the Project

Iliescu v. Steppan, No. 68346, 2017 Nev. LEXIS 38, (Nevada Supreme Court, May 25, 2017)

Appellants Iliescu entered into a Land Purchase Agreement to sell four unimproved parcels in downtown Reno, Nevada to Consolidated Pacific Development (“CPD”) for development of a high-rise, mixed-use project to be known as Wingfield Towers, which agreement was subsequently assigned to BSC Investments, LLC (“BSC”).  BSC subsequently hired Mark Steppan (“Steppan”), to provide design services for the Wingfield Towers.  Financing was never obtained for the project and the escrow never closed on the sale of appellants’ property.  In addition, since BSC did not pay Steppan for his services, Steppan recorded a mechanic’s lien against appellants’ property.  However, Steppan did not provide appellants with a pre-lien notice.

In this case, the Nevada Supreme Court was asked to determine whether the actual notice exception for pre-lien notices should be extended to offsite work and services performed by an architect for a prospective buyer of the property.  NRS 108.245(1) requires a mechanic’s lien claimant, other than one who performs only labor, to deliver a written notice to the owner of the property of the right to lien after they first perform work on or provide material to a project.  However, substantial compliance with this requirements is met if the property owner: (1) has actual notice of the construction on the property and (2) knows the lien claimant’s identity.  Continue reading

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The King’s Time Is Up: Arizona Supreme Court Holds That the Statute of Repose Bars Untimely Claims by State Entities and Overrides the Doctrine of Nullum Tempus Occurrit Regi

City of Phoenix v. Glenayre Elecs., Inc., 2017 Ariz. LEXIS 121 (Ariz. May 10, 2017)

Between 1960 and 2000, Carlos Tarazon (“Tarazon”) performed work installing and repairing water piping for various contractors and developers in the City of Phoenix, Arizona (the “City”).  In 2013, after developing mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos while working on these projects, Tarazon filed a personal injury suit against numerous defendants, including the City and the various contractors and developers for whom he had worked.

The City filed a third-party complaint against the contractors and developers, alleging that they had agreed to defend and indemnify the City against negligence claims relating to these projects.  With respect to the contractors, their various contracts with the City each expressly required the contractor to indemnify the City from all suits arising from their work.  Continue reading

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