Court of Federal Claim Rejects Spearin Claim and Holds Contractor Responsible for Failure to Prevent Mold Growth

James Talcott Construction, Inc. v. United States, No. 14-427 C, 2019 BL 72711, at *1 (Fed. Cl. Mar. 4, 2019)

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Kristopher Berr

In May of 2010, the United States, acting through the Department of Defense (the “Government”) awarded a contract to James Talcott Construction, Inc. (“Talcott”) to replace existing housing for military families at the Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana.  Talcott was required to construct thirteen buildings, each comprising seventy housing units.  Each building was to be constructed with concrete foundations and wood framing, and the project’ design called for wooden floor joists and subfloor decking to be enclosed in crawlspaces.  The contract stated that the “structural drawings and specification represent the finished structure… [but] do not indicate the method of construction.  The contractor will provide all measures necessary to protect the structure during construction.”  The plans and specifications were silent as to ventilation of the crawlspaces.

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U.S. District Court in Kentucky Holds that Contractor Which Proposed Design Solution During Construction Might Be Liable for Failure Notwithstanding Owner’s Obligation to Provide Designs and Instructions

American Towers LLC v. BPI, Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106724 (E.D. Ky. Aug. 4, 2014)

American Towers LLC (“American Towers”), which operates wireless and broadcast communications towers, undertook a project to construct a cell tower in Prestonburg, KY, along with a tower compound and access road.  American Towers selected BPI, Inc. (“BPI”) as general contractor for the project, and the parties executed a contract.

The contract contained a number of provisions that allocated the parties’ responsibilities with respect to design and construction.  In particular, the contract provided that American Towers was to provide BPI with drawings, specifications, and instructions.  BPI, for its part, was responsible for “all construction means, methods, techniques, sequences, and procedures[.]”  Moreover, BPI was to complete its work in a “workmanlike manner and with the highest degree of skill and care exercised by reputable contractors performing the same or similar services[.]” In performing its work, if BPI recognized any problems with American Towers’ design, the contract provided that BPI was to stop work and inform American Towers of the problem.  American Towers would then “issue written instructions” to BPI about how BPI should proceed.

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