Justia Construction Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Commercial Law
Arundel Valley, LLC v. Branch River Plastics, Inc.
Arundel Valley, LLC, the developer of a facility for a butter manufacturer, filed a complaint against Branch River Plastics, Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of insulated roofing panels, alleging, inter alia, defects in roofing panels that Branch River had manufactured and supplied to Arundel Valley for a construction project. A jury found in Arundel Valley’s favor on its claims that Branch River breached implied warranties by supplying defective roofing panels. Branch River filed a motion for a new trial, which the court denied. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in declining to adjudicate whether Branch River had disclaimed implied warranties. Remanded. View "Arundel Valley, LLC v. Branch River Plastics, Inc." on Justia Law
Centerpoint Builders GP, LLC v. Trussway, Ltd.
Centerpoint Builders was hired as the general contractor to build an apartment complex. Centerpoint contracted with a subcontractor to install wooden roof trusses. Centerpoint purchased the trusses directly from Trussway, Ltd., the truss manufacturer. Merced Fernandez, an independent contractor, was rendered paraplegic when a truss broke while he was walking across it. Fernandez sued several entities, including Centerpoint and Trussway, and eventually settled. Centerpoint filed a cross-action against Trussway alleging that Trussway was required to indemnify Centerpoint for any loss arising from Fernandez’s suit. Trussway filed its own indemnity cross claim against Centerpoint. Centerpoint sought partial summary judgment, arguing that it was a seller under Tex. Civil Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. chapter 82 and was thus entitled to indemnity as a matter of law. Chapter 82 entitles the “seller” of a defective product to indemnity from the product manufacturer for certain losses. The trial court concluded that Centerpoint was a seller under chapter 82. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Centerpoint did not fit the statutory definition of a seller and was therefore not eligible to seek indemnity. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Centerpoint, as the general contractor, was not a “seller” entitled to seek indemnity under chapter 82. View "Centerpoint Builders GP, LLC v. Trussway, Ltd." on Justia Law
Kahrs Int’l, Inc. v. United States
Kahrs imports engineered wood flooring panels for distribution to flooring wholesalers. Kahrs classified the products as “assembled parquet panels” under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheading 4418.30.00, a duty-free provision for “Builders’ joinery and carpentry of wood, including cellular wood panels and assembled parquet panels; shingles and shakes: parquet panels.” Customs subsequently liquidated Kahrs’ merchandise under HTSUS 4412, which covers “plywood, veneered panels and similar laminated wood,” at a duty rate of eight percent ad valorem. Customs denied a protest and the Court of International Trade found that Customs correctly classified Kahrs’ merchandise as plywood under heading 4412. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Kahrs Int'l, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law
Reading Coop. Bank v. Constr. Co.
Construction Company contracted with Subcontractor for construction of elements of an HVAC system. As partial collateral for a revolving line of credit, Subcontractor assigned to Bank its right to receive payment under the contract with Construction Company. Construction Company instead made twelve payments to Subcontractor. Subcontractor subsequently ceased business operations, leaving an outstanding debt to Bank on its line of credit. Bank filed an action against Construction Company for breach of contract and violation of the UCC. A jury found (1) Construction Company liable on both counts for ten of the twelve checks that it had delivered to Subcontractor, and (2) Bank was estopped from recovering with respect to the final two checks. The judge entered judgment on the statutory claim in the amount of $3,015,000, the full face value of the ten checks. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the trial judge (1) properly entered judgment on Bank's statutory claim in the amount of the wrongfully midirected payments; but (2) erred in denying the bank's motion for partial judgment notwithstanding the verdict with respect to the final two checks, as there was insufficient evidence to support Construction Company's defense of estoppel. View "Reading Coop. Bank v. Constr. Co." on Justia Law
Redco Constr. v. Profile Props., LLC
Landlord leased commercial real property to Tenant. Landlord granted Tenant permission to renovate the property on the condition that Tenant would pay for the renovations. Tenant thereafter contracted with Contractor to perform the work. When Tenant defaulted on its payments to Contractor, Contractor filed a lien against Landlord's property. Contractor thereafter filed a complaint against Landlord and Tenant, asserting various claims and seeking to foreclose on its lien. The district court granted Landlord's motion for summary judgment, concluding that, pursuant to Wyoming's lien statutes, a valid mechanic's lien did not exist because Landlord did not agree to pay for the renovations to the property and that Tenant was not acting as Landlord's agent in contracting for the improvements. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly interpreted Wyo. Stat. Ann. 29-2-105(a)(ii) to require a finding of agency between the landlord and tenant before a mechanic's lien may attach to the landlord's property for work performed at the tenant's behest; and (2) in this case, that relationship did not exist. View "Redco Constr. v. Profile Props., LLC " on Justia Law
Smith v. Donald L. Mattia, Inc.
Plaintiffs, David and Barbara Smith, asserted various claims arising out of the construction of their home against Defendants, Donald L. Mattia, Inc. (DLM), Donald Mattia, and Barbara Joseph (Barbara). The Chancery Court (1) granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment on (i) Plaintiffs' breach of contract claim and (ii) Plaintiffs' civil conspiracy claim; (2) denied Defendant's motion for summary judgment on (i) Plaintiffs' claim for misappropriation of Plaintiffs' backfill and money paid to DLM that was not applied to their project and (ii) Plaintiffs' claim that Defendants fraudulently induced Plaintiffs to purchase excess lumber and misappropriated $8,836 in connection with the purchase of excess lumber; (2) granted Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, as Defendants did not articulate a viable cause of action in their counterclaim; and (3) denied Barbara's motion for Chan. Ct. R. 11 sanctions where there was no evidence that Plaintiffs' attorney did not have a good faith belief in the legitimacy of the claims asserted against Barbara. View "Smith v. Donald L. Mattia, Inc." on Justia Law
Lewistown Miller Constr. v. Martin
Gary Martin and Lewistown Miller Construction Company entered into a written contract for the construction of a dwelling on Martin's property. When construction was completed, Martin refused to pay additional amounts above the bid price, and LMCC filed a construction lien on the property. LMCC then filed suit, seeking damages for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and foreclosure of the lien. Martin counterclaimed for declaratory relief that the lien was invalid and to quiet title, among other things. The district court (1) granted foreclosure of LMCC's construction lien and awarded damages to LMCC; and (2) denied LMCC's and Martin's request for attorney fees. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the district court did not err in ordering foreclosure of the construction lien, and the award of damages was not clearly erroneous; but (2) the district court erred in failing to award statutorily mandated attorney fees to LMCC, as it established its lien. Remanded. View "Lewistown Miller Constr. v. Martin" on Justia Law
In re Fontainebleau Las Vegas Holdings
A casino-hotel filed for bankruptcy. Appellant, the administrative agent for a syndicate of lenders that loaned money to the casino's developers, and Respondents, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers who asserted statutory liens against the property, entered into a dispute over the priority of their respective liens on the property. The Supreme Court accepted questions certified to it from the bankruptcy court regarding the application of contractual subordination, equitable subordination, and equitable subrogation in the context of a mechanic's lien. Appellant moved to strike Respondents' appendix, contending that the included documents contained information beyond the facts certified to the Court by the bankruptcy court. Respondents opposed the motion, arguing that the additional information was necessary for the Court's understanding of the certified legal questions. The Supreme Court granted the motion to strike after determining that Respondents' appendix was filed solely to contradict the certification order and the complaint, holding that while an appendix may be filed to assist the Court in understanding the matter, it may not be used to controvert the facts as stated in the certification order. View "In re Fontainebleau Las Vegas Holdings" on Justia Law
Redondo Constr. Corp. v. Izquierdo
In 1999 plaintiff pled guilty to making false statements while working on a project funded by the Federal Highway Administration (18 U.S.C. 2, 1014, and 1020). The agreement prohibited plaintiff from participating in any FHWA-funded project for a year. Plaintiff challenged Puerto Rico agencies' subsequent actions. The parties negotiated settlements; plaintiff entered into an agreement allowing it to bid on FHWA projects. Puerto Rico then enacted Law 458, which prohibits award of government contracts to any party convicted of a crime constituting fraud, embezzlement, or misappropriation of public funds and requires rescission of any contract with a party convicted of a specified offense. The statute states that it does not apply retroactively. One agency cancelled plaintiff's successful bids, another withdrew its consent to the settlement. The district court rejected claims of violation of the federal Contracts Clause and breaches of contract under Puerto Rico law. The First Circuit affirmed with respect to the constitutional claim. Any breach of the settlement agreements did not violate the Contracts Clause, even if committed in an attempt to unlawfully enforce Law 458 retroactively; defendants have not impaired plaintiff's ability to obtain a remedy for a demonstrated breach. Given the stage of the litigation, the district court should have retained the breach of contract claims. View "Redondo Constr. Corp. v. Izquierdo" on Justia Law
Otak Nevada, L.L.C. v. Dist. Court
At issue in this extraordinary writ proceeding was whether Nev. Rev. Stat. 11.259(1) compels dismissal where the initial pleading in an action alleging nonresidential construction malpractice was served without filing the attorney affidavit and expert report required by Nev. Rev. Stat. 11.258(1) and (3). The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that a defective pleading served in violation of section 11.258 is void ab initio and of no legal effect and, thus, cannot be cured by amendment. The Court held that because the initial pleadings served by certain real parties in interest in this case did not include the attorney affidavit and expert report as required by section 11.258, those pleadings were void ab initio, and the district court did not have discretionary authority to allow the parties to amend their pleadings to cure their failure to comply with section 11.258. View "Otak Nevada, L.L.C. v. Dist. Court" on Justia Law