Construction Liens Filed by Suppliers in New Jersey After Contractor’s Filing of Bankruptcy Petition Are Barred by the Automatic Stay Provision of the Bankruptcy Code

In re: Linear Electric Co., Inc., No. 16-1477, 2017 U.S. App. Lexis 5527 (3d Cir., March 30, 2017)

This case concerns whether suppliers, Cooper Electrical Supply Co. and Samson Electrical Supply Co. (“Suppliers”), could file construction liens under New Jersey law, despite the fact that Linear Electric Inc. (“Contractor”), filed a petition for bankruptcy, which automatically stays any act to create or perfect any lien against the contractor’s property. Two weeks after Contractor filed for bankruptcy, the Suppliers filed construction liens against projects in New Jersey where the materials were incorporated.  Following a motion by the Contractor, the Bankruptcy Court held that the liens were in violation of the automatic stay provision of the Bankruptcy Code. The District Court affirmed the Bankruptcy Court’s holding that, under New Jersey law, the liens were claims against the Contractor’s accounts receivables, which receivables are part of the bankruptcy estate and protected by the automatic stay.  On appeal, the Third Circuit affirmed the ruling of the District Court. Continue reading “Construction Liens Filed by Suppliers in New Jersey After Contractor’s Filing of Bankruptcy Petition Are Barred by the Automatic Stay Provision of the Bankruptcy Code”

Massachusetts Appellate Court Holds That No-Damages-for-Delay Clause Does Not Bar Claim for Schedule Compression and Affirms Award of Total Cost Damages

Central Ceilings, Inc. v. Suffolk Constr. Co., Inc., 2017 Mass App. Lexis 36 (March 29, 2017).

 The Massachusetts State College Building Authority contracted with Suffolk Construction Company (“Suffolk”) to serve as the general contractor for the construction of dormitories at Westfield State University (“the Project”). Suffolk subcontracted with Central Ceilings, Inc. (“Central”) to install interior and exterior framing, drywall, and door frames for the Project.

Central’s work was impeded by Suffolk’s failure to: coordinate the work of other trades; establish proper elevation, column, and control lines; timely and properly coordinate delivery of the door frames; and ensure that the buildings were weather-tight and properly heated. Its workers were forced to repeatedly demobilize from one area and remobilize in another, and to work in the same space and at the same time as other subcontractors, i.e. stacking of trades.  Central’s project manager and other supervisors were forced to coordinate and administrate the remobilizations.  Both the remobilizations and the stacking of trades significantly increased Central’s labor costs. Continue reading “Massachusetts Appellate Court Holds That No-Damages-for-Delay Clause Does Not Bar Claim for Schedule Compression and Affirms Award of Total Cost Damages”

Federal Court in Alaska Holds Insurer Liable Under E&O Policy to Indemnify and Defend Construction Manager for Claims by Subcontractor That Construction Manager Failed to Properly Perform Construction Management Services

KICC –Alcan Gen. v. Crum & Forster Specialty Ins. Co., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37560 (March 16, 2017)

A Contractor/Construction Manager, KICC-Alcan General (“KICC”), entered into a subcontract with an MEP subcontractor, Superior Group (“Superior”), concerning the construction of two buildings at an airforce base in Alaska. Superior sued KICC for approximately $2 million in costs it incurred in excess of the contract value, allegedly caused by KICC’s failure to properly manage the project.  KICC tendered Superior’s claims to its Errors and Omissions insurance carrier, Crum & Forster Specialty Insurance Company (“C&F”).  C&F denied both defense and indemnity of Superior’s claims.  KICC settled its claims with Superior prior to trial.  KICC then sued C&F for its breach of the duty to defend and indemnify against Superior’s claims, as well as a breach of its duty of good faith.

The terms of KICC’s E&O policy provided coverage for “damages… because of… an act error or omission in the rendering or failure to render professional services by any insured.”  The contract defined “professional services” as “those functions performed for others by you or by others on your behalf that are related to your practice as a consultant, engineer, architect, surveyor, laboratory or construction manager.”

Superior alleged that KICC: mismanaged a soil contamination issue at the beginning of the project; failed to provide timely responses to requests for information and contract modifications; and directed other subcontractors to work in the same areas at the same time as Superior, resulting in delays and added costs to Superior on the project. Superior submitted a request for equitable adjustment (“REA”) for these costs and delays, but KICC denied the REA.  In its lawsuit, Superior asserted claims for breach of contract and quantum meruit. Continue reading “Federal Court in Alaska Holds Insurer Liable Under E&O Policy to Indemnify and Defend Construction Manager for Claims by Subcontractor That Construction Manager Failed to Properly Perform Construction Management Services”