Construction Law Insights

Travelers Indem. Co. v. Lessard Design, Inc., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98937, 2018 WL 2939014 (E.D. Va. June 12, 2018)

In a previous lawsuit, Humphreys & Parnters Architects, LP (“Humphreys) sued Lessard Design, Inc. (“Lessard Design”), PDT Builders, LLC (“PDT”), and other Penrose Group entities (the “Penrose Group”) for copyright infringement. PDT tendered its defense to Lessard Design. After Lessard Design declined to defend PDT, the Penrose Group and PDT tendered their own defense to Travelers Indemnity Company of Connecticut (“Travelers”) pursuant to the Penrose Group’s Commercial General Liability policy (“CGL Policy”). Travelers accepted the tender of defense and paid the attorneys’ fees and costs associated with the defense in the Humphreys litigation. As such, Travelers was subrogated to the rights of its insureds, PDT and the Penrose Group. After granting summary judgment, the district court awarded $792,765.00 in attorneys’ fees to the defendants in the Humphreys litigation, which the parties later settled for $745,000.00. Travelers, as subrogee, then requested that Lessard Design indemnify Travelers for the outstanding attorneys’ fees and costs, which Lessard Design declined. Travelers then filed suit against Lessard.

M&C Hauling & Constr., Inc. v. Hale, 2018 Va. Cir. LEXIS 114 (Cir. Ct. Fairfax Cnty. June 28, 2018)

In June of 2014, William Hale d/b/a Mulch, Topsoil and Stone (“MTS”) and Hauling Unlimited (“HU”) entered into a subcontract for HU to provide truck hauling services for a construction project at the Joint Base Andrews in Prince George County, Maryland (the “Project”). HU then subcontracted those same services to M&C Hauling and Construction, Inc. (“M&C”). From June to July of 2014, M&C provided 2,020.25 hours of debris hauling services for the Project. Written sales tickets on HU letterhead were generated daily, reflected the day’s date, listed the hours worked on that date, and were signed by MTS’ project manager (the “Daily Tickets”). The price term of $75.00 per hour was not shown on the Daily Tickets, but was later included in an invoice dated August 9, 2014. On February 1, 2018, M&C filed a complaint against HU alleging that MTS and/or HU failed to pay M&C $86,456.23 for 1,152.75 hours of labor from June and July of 2014. HU argued that M&C’s claim was barred by Virginia’s three-year statute of limitations for unwritten contracts (Va. Code § 246(4)). 

Owens v. City of Va. Beach, 2018 Va. App. 212, 2018 WL 3732420 (Va. Ct. App. Aug. 7, 2018)

In December of 2015, Cynthia and Richard Owens (the “Owens”) hired a contractor (“First Contractor”) to renovate their condominium’s roof and an engineering firm to create a plan for the proposed work. The First Contractor applied for and the City of Virginia Beach (the “City”) issued a building permit for the work, which included the plan prepared by the engineering firm. In January of 2016, the First Contractor began work, took pictures of the work, presented the pictures to the engineering firm, and requested an inspection by the City. The engineering firm reviewed the photos and submitted them to the City along with a report. Neither the City nor the engineering firm visited the site. Relying on the engineering firm’s report and the photos, the City gave the project a “final” passing inspection status.

Precision Pipeline, LLC v. Dominion Transmission, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133202, 2018 WL 3744018 (E.D. Va. Aug. 7, 2018)

In 2011, Dominion Transmission, Inc. (“Dominion”), retained Precision Pipeline, LLC (“Precision”), to build a stretch of natural gas pipeline through Pennsylvania and West Virginia. During construction, Precision encountered various issues, especially undisclosed subsurface utility crossings. Precision claimed that Dominion failed to pay Precision for its additional work in light of the drastically changed the scope of the project. 

Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC v. Grove Ave. Developers, Inc., 2018 US Dist. LEXIS 140942 (E.D. Va. Aug. 10, 2018)

Grove Avenue Developers, Inc. (“Grove”) sought to develop a property into a small condominium complex. The property was subject to Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC’s (“Columbia”) easement to lay, maintain, operate, and remove pipelines. Columbia’s easement required Columbia to maintain its pipeline “below cultivation, so that the Grantors may fully use and enjoy the premises. . .” Although Columbia did not prohibit Grove from constructing an asphalt roadway crossing over its two gas lines installed below cultivation, Columbia sought to require Grove to pay for costly pipeline “improvements” before the road was constructed, including excavation, inspection, application of new protective coatings, and installation of a special ground fill material to protect the pipelines from future damage based on the weight of crossing vehicular traffic.

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