New York Supreme Court Granted Summary Judgment for Subcontractor Where Contractor Attempted to Utilize Contractual “Pay-When-Paid” Provision to Unreasonably Withhold Payment from Subcontractor

A.E. Rosen Elec. Co. v. Plank, LLC, No. 07862-7, 2019 BL 113951 (Sup. Ct. Mar. 01, 2019)

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Michelle Beth Rosenberg

On March 1, 2019, the Supreme Court of New York, Albany County, granted a subcontractor’s motion for summary judgment on a payment dispute involving a “pay-when-paid” contract provision.

Defendant Plank, LLC (“Contractor”) entered into a construction contract with Dutch Village, LLC (“Owner”) to act as the general contractor for the construction of four apartment buildings (“Project”).  Thereafter, Contractor entered into a subcontract with Plaintiff A.E. Rosen Electrical, Inc. (“Subcontractor”) for electrical work on the Project.  After nine months of work on the Project, a payment dispute arose between the Owner and Contractor.  At that time, Contractor directed the Subcontractor to cease work on the Project.

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Virginia Supreme Court Holds That Subcontractors Did Not Waive Statute of Limitations, With The Result That The General Contractor Was Liable To Owner For Defective Work But With No Recourse Against Subcontractors Who Performed The Work

Hensel Phelps Constr. Co. v. Thompson Masonry Contractor, Inc., et. al., No. 151780, 2016 Va. LEXIS 166 (Va. Nov. 3, 2016)

The dispute arose from the construction of a student health and fitness center at Virginia Tech. The prime contractor, Hensel Phelps, and its subcontractors substantially completed their work in 1998, and Virginia Tech made final payment in 1999. In April 2012, Virginia Tech discovered defects in the work, elected to repair them, and then sought to recover the costs from Hensel Phelps. Despite the significant passage of time between completion of the work and Virginia Tech’s assertion of its claims, Hensel Phelps could not invoke the statute of limitations because under Virginia Code § 8.01-231, statutes of limitation do not apply to claims asserted by Commonwealth agencies such as Virginia Tech.  Ultimately, Hensel Phelps paid $3,000,000 to Virginia Tech to settle the defective work claims.

Hensel Phelps, in turn, sought to recover from the subcontractors that performed the defective work. When the subcontractors refused to pay, Hensel Phelps commenced an action alleging, among other things, breach of contract against the subcontractors and their sureties. All of the defendants argued that Hensel Phelps’ claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The lower courts agreed. On appeal, the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed. Continue reading “Virginia Supreme Court Holds That Subcontractors Did Not Waive Statute of Limitations, With The Result That The General Contractor Was Liable To Owner For Defective Work But With No Recourse Against Subcontractors Who Performed The Work”

U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico, Applying Connecticut Law, Considers Application of Notice Requirements to Termination of Joint Subcontractors

Fed. Ins. Co. v. Empresas Sabaer, Inc.
2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112930 (D.P.R. Aug. 9, 2013)

This action arose out of a surety’s claim for expenses incurred for correcting a subcontractor’s defective work. DTC Engineering and Constructors, LLC (“DTC”) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the “Corps”) entered into a contract for the design and construction of the Armed Forces Reserve Center at Fort Buchanan, located in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Federal Insurance Company (“Federal”) and DTC subscribed to a payment and performance bond as surety and principal, respectively, naming the government as obligee. DTC subsequently entered into a subcontract (the “Subcontract”) with Empresas Sabaer, Inc. (“Sabaer”) and BBS Developers, S.E. (“BBS”) (collectively the “Subcontractors”). The Subcontract provided that Sabaer was required to complete the work under Subcontract, while BBS was responsible for providing technical and economic support. United Surety and Indemnity Co. (“USIC”) and the Subcontractors, as surety and principal, respectively, subscribed to a payment and performance bond and named DTC as obligee. DTC assigned to Federal all of its rights emerging from the Subcontract and USIC’s bond.

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