US Claims Court Explains Limits of Spearin Doctrine – Denies Contractor Recovery Where Testimony Regarding Defective Design Was Conclusory

Caddell Construction Co., Inc. v. United States
2007 U.S. Claims LEXIS 285, No. 04-461C, (September 7, 2007)

The United States District Court of Federal Claims held that the design deficiencies alleged by the plaintiff contractor did not rise to the level of a breach of the implied warranty set forth under the Spearin Doctrine.

Plaintiff Caddell Construction Co. (“Plaintiff”) entered into a contract with the Department of Veteran Affairs (the “Government”) to modernize and strengthen the VA Medical center in Memphis, Tennessee. Plaintiff claimed on behalf of its steel fabrication subcontractor, Steel Service Corporation (“SSC”), that the Government provided structural steel drawings that contained conflicts, errors, omissions, and/or inadequate details which resulted in delay and additional costs to SSC. Continue reading “US Claims Court Explains Limits of Spearin Doctrine – Denies Contractor Recovery Where Testimony Regarding Defective Design Was Conclusory”

Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Holds that a Payment Bond Surety that Discharges a Contractor’s Obligation to Pay a Subcontractor is Equitably Subrogated to the Rights of Both the Contractor and Subcontractor and May Bring Suit Directly Against the United States

National American Insurance Company v. United States
No. 2007-5016, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 20058 (Fed. Cir. August 23, 2007)

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the lower court’s grant of a motion for summary judgment. The Court held that a payment bond surety is equitably subrogated to the rights of the contractor whose debt it discharges, and thus can pursue a claim directly against the government.

The case arose out of a contract between Innovative PBX Services, Inc. (“Contractor”) and the United States Small Business Administration (the “government”) for the replacement of a telephone system at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The Contractor subcontracted part of the work to Nortel Communications Systems, Inc. (“Subcontractor”). As required by the Miller Act, the Contractor executed payment and performance bonds in favor of the government with National American Insurance Company (“Surety”) as the surety. After completion of the contract work, the Subcontractor notified the Surety that it was owed approximately $675,000 for labor and materials that the Contractor had failed to pay for. The Subcontractor then instituted a Miller Act claim under the payment bond against the Surety, which the Surety settled. The Surety also notified the government that no addition payments should be made to the Contractor in light of the Miller Act claim and requested that all remaining contract funds be held for the Surety’s benefit. The government, however, did not follow the Surety’s request and made its final contract payment to the Contractor. As a result, the Surety filed a complaint against he government seeking damages of $280,000. Continue reading “Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Holds that a Payment Bond Surety that Discharges a Contractor’s Obligation to Pay a Subcontractor is Equitably Subrogated to the Rights of Both the Contractor and Subcontractor and May Bring Suit Directly Against the United States”

Federal District Court in PA Holds Contractor’s Use of Subcontractor’s Conditional Bid Proposal in its Bid to Owner Insufficient to Form Enforceable Contract

Neshaminy Constructors, Inc. v. Concrete Building Systems, Inc.
2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69197, Civil Action No. 06-1489 (E.D. Pa. 2007)

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania conducted a bench trial in which the primary question was whether a contract had been formed between a contractor and subcontractor in connection with a project for which the contractor submitted a bid proposal utilizing, in part, the subcontractor’s bid proposal for calculating the total price for the work. Relying on Pennsylvania common law, the Eastern District held that use of a subcontractor’s bid, by a general contractor in the submission of its own bid to the owner, in and of itself is not sufficient to create a binding contract. Continue reading “Federal District Court in PA Holds Contractor’s Use of Subcontractor’s Conditional Bid Proposal in its Bid to Owner Insufficient to Form Enforceable Contract”