Justia Construction Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

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In 2007, the VA sought to lease space for a Parma, Ohio VA clinic. A pre-solicitation memorandum stated that the building must comply with the Interagency Security Committee (ISC) Security Design Criteria. The subsequent Solicitation discussed the physical security requirements. Premier submitted a proposed design narrative that did not address those requirements. In 2008, Premier and the VA entered into a Lease. Premier was to provide a built-out space as described in the Solicitation. About 18 months later, the VA inquired about Premier’s first design submittal, advising Premier to obtain access to the ISC standards, because “the project needs to be designed according to the ISC.” The ISC denied Premier’s request, stating that the documents had to be requested by a federal contracting officer who has a “need to know.” The VA forwarded copies of three ISC documents. Some confusion ensued as to which standard applied. The VA then instructed Premier to disregard the ISC requirements and to incorporate the requirements from the latest VA Physical Security Guide. Months later, the VA changed position, stating that “[t]he ISC is the design standard.” Premier’s understanding was that only individual spaces listed in a Physical Security Table needed to comply with the ISC. The VA responded that the entire building must conform to the ISC at no additional cost. Premier constructed the building in accordance with the ISC standards then unsuccessfully requested $964,356.40 for additional costs. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the government. The contract unambiguously requires a facility conforming to ISC security requirements. View "Premier Office Complex of Parma, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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Meridian contracted to construct the Chula Vista Project flood control project, including construction of concrete channels, relocation of a sewer line, and dewatering and water diversion. After commencing work, Meridian encountered problems relating to “a layer of dripping saturated dark clay material under which a clean layer of sand is producing water” with “the potential for serious structural damage.” The government issued contract modifications, including an increase in funds for larger pipe, addition of a reinforced concrete access ramp, investigation of soil properties, remediation of saturated soils, and additional sheet piling. The government directed Meridian to suspend work following structural failures and terminated the project following a final inspection. Meridian sued for breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and violation of the Contract Disputes Act, 41 U.S.C. 601−613. The government conceded liability for certain costs relating to suspension of work, channel fill, and interim protection. With respect to other claims, the Federal Circuit affirmed in part. Meridian’s interpretation of the contract was not reasonable; the existence of subsurface saturated soil conditions was “reasonably foreseeable.” The Trade Court did not impose an improper requirement for investigation of site conditions beyond what a reasonable contractor would undertake. The court remanded for consideration of whether the parties reached a meeting of the minds on flood event claims and held that the Trade Court erred dismissing Meridian’s unpaid contract quantities claim, in light of conflicting information. View "Meridian Engineering Co. v. United States" on Justia Law