Construction Law Insights

Construction suretyship is a tripartite relationship where a surety issues bonds to guarantee a contractor’s obligation for performance and payment to an “obligee.” Sureties expect that their bond obligations will mirror the contractor’s obligations as defined by the operative contracts. However, in certain circumstances, the surety’s liability may be greater than the contractor’s obligations and exceed the operative contract terms.

Bd. of Supervisors v. Bd. of Zoning Appeals, 2018 Va. Cir. LEXIS 23 (Fairfax Cnty. Feb. 13, 2018)

Board of Supervisors and the Zoning Administrator of Fairfax County (“Plaintiffs”) brought suit seeking a declaratory judgment overturning a decision made by the Board of Zoning Appeals of Fairfax County (“BZA”) on September 27, 2017, in favor of particular landowners regarding the need for a special permit to construct a ropes course on the landowner’s property. Plaintiffs contended that BZA’s initial determination from June of that year was never appealed and thus was invalidly reconsidered.

Va. Natural Gas, Inc. v. Sumner, 2018 Va. Cir. LEXIS 21 (Cir. Ct. City of Chesapeake Feb. 23, 2018)

Virginia Natural Gas, Inc. (“VNG”) filed a Petition for Condemnation and Application for Entry pursuant to Va. Code §§ 25.1-223 and 224. VNG sought to acquire a permanent and temporary construction easements over a portion of respondents’ property, for the construction and installation of a natural gas pipeline as part of VNG’s Southside Connector Distribution Project (the “Project”). The proposed pipeline would be, at a minimum, three feet below grade and within an existing Dominion Virginia Power easement where electrical transmission lines currently run.

Suits v. Stephen Alexander Homes, LLC, 2018 Va. Cir. LEXIS 29 (Cir. Ct. City of Chesapeake Feb. 27, 2018)

Plaintiffs alleged defects in a home constructed for them by Defendant. Plaintiffs noticed defects a few days after closing and the contract included a warranty of completion and an express one-year warranty. The complaint contained counts alleging breach of contract, breach of warranty, fraud, constructive fraud, negligence in supervision of the project, and violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (“VCPA”). Defendant demurred to all counts of the complaint, except for breach of contract and breach of warranty.

Nichols v. Vico Constr. Corp., 2018 Va. Cir. LEXIS 28 (Va. Cir. City of Chesapeake Mar. 1, 2018)

Either Hanbury Manor, LLC or Hanbury Manor Construction, LLC (collectively “Hanbury”) hired Vico Construction Corporation (“Vico”) to construct a drainage ditch between the Berskshire Estate subdivision and the Hanbury Manor subdivision. The drainage ditch crossed land owned by Thomas and Connie Nichols (the “Nichols”), upon which the City of Chesapeake has a drainage easement. During the construction of the drainage ditch, Vico allegedly cut down trees situated on the Nichols’ land and belonging the Nichols. On September 19, 2016, the Nichols sent Vico a notice of trespass and a demand for replacement of the trees. The court denied the Nichols motion for default judgment against Hanbury Manor, LLC because the Nichols’ service on a non-designated, non-member employee was not sufficient to give the limited liability company notice of the pendency of the action.

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