Federal Court in Maryland Denies Summary Judgment, Holding That Subcontract Provision Placing Responsibility for Property Damage on Subcontractor Would Likely Trump Prime Contract Waiver of Subrogation Incorporated by Reference

Turner Constr. Co. v. BFPE Int’l, Inc., No. JKB-15-368, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39161 (D. Md. Mar. 25, 2016)

The University of Maryland Medical Center (“UMMC”) entered into a contract (the “Prime Contract”) with Turner Construction Company (“Turner”), pursuant to which Turner agreed to renovate UMMC’s hospital offices.  Turner then entered into a subcontract (the “Subcontract”) with BFPE International, Inc. (“BFPE”), pursuant to which BFPE agreed to perform work associated with the fire protection system, including demolishing sprinkler piping and coordinating sprinkler outages to accommodate the renovations.

The Prime Contract included a waiver of subrogation, under which UMMC and Turner waived all rights against each other and any subcontractors for damages covered by property insurance, even if the subcontractor would otherwise have a duty to indemnify.[i]  The Subcontract incorporated the Prime Contract by reference and included flow down provisions, but the Subcontract also stated that if any provision “irreconcilably conflicts” with a provision of the Prime Contract, “the provision imposing the greater duty or obligation on [BFPE] shall govern.”  The Subcontract included an assumption of liability, under which BFPE assumed liability for all property damage in connection with its work and agreed to indemnify Turner from any claims that result.[ii]  This assumption of liability seemed inconsistent with the waiver of subrogation in the Prime Contract. Continue reading “Federal Court in Maryland Denies Summary Judgment, Holding That Subcontract Provision Placing Responsibility for Property Damage on Subcontractor Would Likely Trump Prime Contract Waiver of Subrogation Incorporated by Reference”

Fifth Circuit Considers Allocation of Risk of Defective Plans and Specifications in Reversing $1.29 Million Judgment Entered in Favor of Contractor

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Board v. INET Airport Systems, Inc., et al., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 6646, 819 F.3d 245 (5th Cir. Apr. 12, 2016)

 This action arose out of a construction project in terminal E of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (“DFW”), in which pre-conditioned air and rooftop air handling units were to provide conditioned air (cooling and heating) to passenger boarding bridges and aircrafts parked at terminal gates (the “Project”).  In August, 2009, following a competitive bidding process, owner Dallas Fort Worth International Airport Board (the “Owner”) entered into a contract with contractor INET Airport Systems, Inc. (the “Contractor”) to construct the Project. The plans and specifications for the contract included detailed drawings, the precise rooftop units and parts to be used, approved manufacturers and performance requirements.  Under the contract and these plans, the Contractor was obligated to install operational rooftop units that were required to use 30 percent ethylene glycol/water supplied through DFW’s existing piping system. The Contractor was not allowed to substitute products or designs for those agreed upon in the contract documents without authorization from the Owner. The contract also required that if anything in the agreed-upon plans needed to be changed, the Contractor would alert the Owner and the parties would collaborate to come up with a workaround that would be incorporated into the contract by written change order issued by the Owner with agreed prices for performing the change order work. Continue reading “Fifth Circuit Considers Allocation of Risk of Defective Plans and Specifications in Reversing $1.29 Million Judgment Entered in Favor of Contractor”

Texas District Court Rejects Rail Contractor’s Delay and Prompt Payment Claims and Awards Owner More Than $3 Million

Balfour Beatty Rail, Inc. v. The Kansas City Southern Railway Company, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39086 (N.D. Tex., March 25, 2016)

The contractor contracted with owner to install 65 miles of railroad track, for a price of $12,206,666.  The owner had engaged another contractor to grade and prepare the substrate for the railroad track, and was to furnish and deliver aggregate for track ballast and track rail material to various locations along the rail route.  The contractor’s scope included all other work.  The contractor fell behind in its work, and the owner hired additional contractors to complete a portion of its scope.  The contractor blamed the delays on the owner’s late delivery of aggregate and rail, and improper subgrade preparation under a theory of differing site conditions. It sought $4.35 million in unpaid change orders, delay damages, and penalties under Texas’ prompt payment statutes.  The owner in turn sought $2.6 million in completion costs and costs of wasted aggregate. Continue reading “Texas District Court Rejects Rail Contractor’s Delay and Prompt Payment Claims and Awards Owner More Than $3 Million”