Contractor Could Not Maintain Suit Against Construction Manager For Negligence

Matrix Construction, LLC v. Barton Malow and Schoolcraft College
2006 Mich. App. LEXIS 429, No. 265156 (February 21, 2006)

In Matrix Construction, LLC v. Barton Malow and Schoolcraft College, 2006 Mich. App. LEXIS 429, No. 265156 (February 21, 2006), the Court held that a contractor could not maintain a suit against a construction manager for negligence where the alleged duty arose under the construction manager’s contract with the owner.

Contractor, Matrix Construction, LLC entered into a contract with Owner, Schoolcraft College to furnish and install numerous items for a construction project. Owner also contracted with Construction Manager, Barton Malow to manage and supervise Contractor’s work on the project. Contractor filed suit against Construction Manager alleging that Construction Manager negligently managed the project by failing to properly “supervise, coordinate, plan and schedule the work performed on the project.”

Construction Manager filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that Contractor failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted. Construction Manager argued that it owed no duty to Contractor as a matter of law. Further, any duty Construction Manager had with regard to the project arose solely under its contract with Owner. For its part, Contractor argued that under Michigan Law, a construction manager that supervises a project owes a duty to subcontractors regardless whether the subcontractor is in privity of contract with the construction manager.

The Trial Court granted Construction Manager’s motion for summary judgment holding that the duty alleged by Contractor arose solely under Construction Manager’s contractual obligations to Owner and thus Contractor could not maintain a suit for negligence. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the Trial Court’s decision holding that no relationship between Contractor and Construction Manager existed that gave rise to legal duty by Construction Manager which was separate and distinct from Construction Manager’s contract with Owner.

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