Justia Construction Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Transportation Law
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The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) appealed the Transportation Board’s order granting judgment to W.M. Schultz Construction, Inc. in this contract dispute. Schultz entered into a contract with VTrans in December 2013 to replace four bridges destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene. Three bridges were completed without incident. This dispute centered on the fourth bridge, referred to as “Bridge #19.” The Bridge #19 project involved the construction of a single-span steel-girder bridge over the White River in Rochester, Vermont. The west abutment was to be placed on a deep pile foundation and the east abutment (Abutment #2) was to be placed on ledge. The work was to begin in April 2014 and be completed in a single construction season. The Board concluded that Schultz encountered “differing site conditions” in carrying out its bridge-construction project and that it was entitled to an equitable adjustment for costs it incurred as a result. VTrans appealed, arguing the Board misread the contract materials and otherwise erred in granting judgment to Schultz. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "W.M. Schultz Construction, Inc. v. Vermont Agency of Transportation" on Justia Law

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In 1983, Appellant, the owner and chief executive officer of an asphalt company, pled guilty to violating the Sherman Antitrust Act for unlawfully bidding on state highway construction contracts. In order to have his company's privilege of bidding on new contracts reinstated, Appellant agreed to cooperate with the Attorney General's (AG) investigation and proffered information pertaining to Appellant's involvement in a scheme to "rig" bids for highway construction contracts with the Kentucky Department of Transportation. In 2009, reporters for several newspapers submitted an Open Records Act (ORA) request to have the proffer disclosed. When Appellant learned the AG intended to release the proper, Appellant brought this action against the AG and ORA reporters seeking to have the release enjoined under the privacy exemption or the law enforcement exemption to the ORA. In 2011, the trial court ruled that the proffer should be released to the ORA requestors. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant did not have standing to invoke the law enforcement exemption provision to the ORA; and (2) matters of sufficient public interest warranted an invasion of Appellant's limited privacy interest in keeping his proffer from being disclosed.View "Lawson v. Office of Attorney Gen." on Justia Law

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The Port Authority’s subsidiary, PATH, operates the Grove Street Station in Jersey City. The Station was built in 1910. In 2000 PATH planned to expand the Station to accommodate larger trains and persons with disabilities, a project that would have involved construction of a new entrance and two elevators. After September 11, 2001, and the resulting closure of two stations, ridership increased at the Station. Concerned about congestion and safety, PATH scrapped its renovation plans and undertook a “fast track” project. Construction began in 2002 and concluded in 2005. Plaintiffs alleged that the renovations triggered an obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101–12213, to make the Station accessible to handicapped persons. They also alleged violations under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination and certain state construction code provisions. The district court dismissed, state-law claims on the basis that allowing such claims to proceed would violate the interstate compact between New York and New Jersey that created the Authority, but ordered the Authority to make the east entrance accessible. The Third Circuit affirmed dismissal of the state law claims, but remanded the ADA issue for trial on the issue of feasibility. View "Hip Heightened Indep. & Progress, Inc. v. Port Auth. of NY & NJ" on Justia Law

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Access to the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario necessitated traversing city streets. The state contracted with the Company, which owns the Bridge, to construct new approaches from interstate roads. The contract specified separate jobs for the state and the Company. In 2010, the state obtained a state court order, finding the Company in breach of contract and requiring specific performance. The Company sought an order to open ramps constructed by the state, asserting that this was necessary to complete its work. The court denied the motion and held Company officials in contempt. In a 2012 settlement, the court ordered the Company to relinquish its responsibilities to the state and establish a $16 million fund to ensure completion. Plaintiffs, trucking companies that use the bridge, sought an injunction requiring the state to immediately open the ramps. The district court dismissed claims under the dormant Commerce Clause, the motor carriers statute, 49 U.S.C. 14501(c), and the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, 49 U.S.C. 31114(a)(2). The Sixth Circuit affirmed. For purposes of the Commerce Clause and statutory claims, the state is acting in a proprietary capacity and, like the private company, is a market participant when it joins the bridge company in constructing ramps. View "Mason & Dixon Lines Inc. v. Steudle" on Justia Law