Articles Posted in Construction Law

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Defendant recorded a mechanic’s lien for work done on two properties that had been placed in a trust. The trustee filed a petition challenging the validity of the liens, arguing that the memoranda for mechanic’s lien were defective because they failed to specifically name the trustee, improperly identified the claimant, and failed to list either a date from which interest was claimed or a date on which the debt was due. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the memoranda for mechanic’s lien either complied with the relevant statutes outright or were substantially compliant. View "Desai v. A. R. Design Group, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Construction Law

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In 1997, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University awarded General Contractor a prime contract for construction work. General Contractor hired Subcontractors to complete portions of the project. Sureties acted as sureties to Subcontractors. After construction was substantially completed, Virginia Tech made final payment to General Contractor in 1999, which made final payment to Subcontractors. All work was concluded in 2000. In 2012, Virginia Tech asserted a claim against General Contractor seeking compensation for the cost of remedying defective workmanship. In 2014, General Contractor settled the claim with Virginia Tech and, the same year, filed this action alleging breach of contract and common law indemnity claims against Subcontractors and breach of contract claims against Sureties. In 2015, the court dismissed the case in its entirety, concluding, as relevant to this appeal, that the statute of limitations barred the breach of contract claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the statute of limitations had run by the filing of the suit in 2014, and because any breach of Subcontractors occurred at the time of their respective performances, the statute of limitations had similarly run against Sureties. View "Hensel Phelps Construction Co. v. Thompson Masonry Contractor, Inc." on Justia Law

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Church entered into an engineering contract with Civil Engineer (Engineer) to design site plans for a rain tank system. Church entered into a contract with General Contractor (GC) for the construction of the rain tank. After GC installed the rain tank, the tank collapsed. Engineer designed and GC installed a different storm water management system, but Church refused to pay GC for installing the new storm water system. GC sued Church for payment, and Church counterclaimed against GC for breach of contract. Church filed a third-party claim against Engineer for repair and replacement costs it was found to owe GC because of the rain tank collapse. Church filed a separate suit against Engineer. The circuit court concluded that the rain tank collapse was the failure of Engineer, entered judgment for GC on its claims against Church, and awarded Church damages for delay and other damages associated with removing and replacing the rain tank. Engineer appealed. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding Church’s claims timely and Engineer liable on Church’s breach of contract claims; and (2) reversed the circuit court’s judgment granting Church damages in the form of construction loan interest that was not incurred as a result of the breach of contract. Remanded. View "William H. Gordon Assocs. v. Heritage Fellowship, United Church of Christ" on Justia Law

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Construction Manager subcontracted with Subcontractor to do work on a construction project. After the project was substantially complete, Subcontractor recorded a mechanic’s lien for unpaid work on the project. Subcontractor then filed a complaint against Construction Manager as the general contractor of the project, the owner of the property (Landowner), and the bank that financed the project (Bank) to enforce its mechanic’s lien. Construction Manager did not enter an appearance in the case. The circuit court subsequently granted an application filed by Landowner and Bank and released the real estate that had been subject to Subcontractor’s mechanic’s lien. Bank filed a motion to dismiss the mechanic’s lien claim on the basis that Subcontractor failed to timely serve Construction Manager, who it alleged to be a necessary party to the mechanic’s lien enforcement action. The circuit court agreed and dismissed the mechanic’s lien claim with prejudice. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Construction Manager, as the general contractor, was not a necessary party to Subcontractor’s mechanic’s lien enforcement action. Remanded. View "Synchronized Constr. Servs., Inc. v. Prav Lodging, LLC" on Justia Law

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Twelve years after he pled guilty to capital murder in exchange for a sentence of life without the possibility of parole Appellant filed a motion to vacate his sentence. Appellant, who was seventeen years old when he committed the murder, argued that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama applied retroactively to his case. The circuit denied the motion without a hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the sentencing scheme applicable to Appellant’s conviction was not a mandatory life without the possibility of parole scheme; and (2) therefore, even if Miller applied retroactively, it was not applicable to the Virginia sentencing statutes at issue in this case. View "Jones v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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Jack Bays, Inc. did site work on the construction of a new church (New Life). Jack Bays contracted with several subcontractors, eleven of which were parties to this action. New Life obtained additional funds for the project through three lenders. The Lenders were listed on the deed of trust for the new financing. After New Life stopped making to Jack Bays due to lack of funding, Jack Bays recorded its memorandum of mechanics' lien against New Life and terminated the construction contract. All Contractors timely filed complaints against the Lenders. The circuit court ordered that the property be sold at public auction with the proceeds to be applied in satisfaction of the mechanics' liens in the following order of priority: Subcontractors, Jack Bays, and Lenders. The Lenders appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in finding that Jack Bays' lien was valid; (2) was not plainly wrong in determining that the Contractors' liens had priority over the Lenders' deed of trust; but (3) erred in approving the sale of the entire parcel of land to satisfy the Contractors' liens, where no evidence was introduced to support this decision. Remanded.View "Glasser & Glasser, PLC v. Jack Bays, Inc." on Justia Law

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A developer contracted with B&R Construction Management (B&R) for the demolition a redevelopment and housing authority facility (hereafter referred to as the Contract). B&R subcontracted some of the demolition work to Beamon Enterprises (Beamon). Beamon, in turn, subcontracted with Environmental Staffing Acquisition Corporation (En-Staff) to provide labor. After Beamon failed to pay En-Staff for the work performed, En-Staff filed a complaint against B&R seeking the amount it was owed under its contract with Beamon. En-Staff asserted it had standing to bring a breach of contract claim against B&R as a third-party beneficiary of the Contract. B&R filed a demurrer disputing En-Staff's status as a third-party beneficiary. The circuit court sustained B&R's demurrer and dismissed En-Staff's claims against B&R with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court erred in finding that the language of the Contract precluded third-party action against B&R, but the error was harmless; and (2) En-Staff was not a third-party beneficiary of the Contract because it benefitted only incidentally from the Contract. View "Envtl. Staffing Corp. v. B & R Constr. Mgmt." on Justia Law

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Gerald T. Dixon, Jr., LLC retained Hassell & Folkes to survey and mark the boundary lines of a parcel Dixon owned. After completion of the survey, Dixon conveyed the parcel to Brat Development, which began construction of an office building. Thereafter, A&G Partnership filed for injunctive relief alleging that the building encroached upon its adjoining parcel. The circuit court found in favor of A&G and ordered the building's removal. Brat subsequently sued Dixon. Dixon then sued Hassell alleging breach of contract due to Harrell's erroneous determination of the parcel's boundary lines. The circuit court dismissed Dixon's complaint with prejudice, concluding that Dixon's cause of action was barred by the statute of limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Dixon's cause of action was subject to a three-year statute of limitations and was time-barred when Dixon filed its complaint. View "Gerald T. Dixon, Jr., L.L.C. v. Hassell & Folkes" on Justia Law

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Albemarle County enacted a zoning ordinance governing construction on slopes within the county. Under the waiver provision of the county code, the planning commission was authorized to grant a waiver from the restrictions otherwise imposed by the ordinance. Kent Sinclair, who owned property in the county, filed a complaint seeking, inter alia, a declaratory judgment that the county exceeded the power delegated to it by the General Assembly in violation of the Dillon Rule because its procedure for considering waiver applications was not authorized by state law. The circuit court granted summary judgment against Sinclair. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's judgment that the decision to grant or deny waiver applications may be delegated to the planning commission, as the delegation was legislative in nature and not authorized by state law. Accordingly, in enacting the waiver provision, the county exceeded its authority from the General Assembly in violation of the Dillon Rule and the waiver provision was void. Remanded. View "Sinclair v. New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC" on Justia Law

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An employee of the general contractor on a construction site was allegedly injured by the negligent act of the employee of a subcontractor who carried no workers' compensation insurance. Plaintiff, the injured party, brought a common-law action against Defendants, the uninsured subcontractor and its employee, the alleged tortfeasor. The Defendants filed a plea in bar, asserting that the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act was Plaintiff's sole remedy. The circuit court held that Defendants' failure to carry workers' compensation insurance deprived them of the protections afforded by the Act because they were not participants in the statutory workers' compensation system. The court denied the plea in bar, permitting the action to go forward, but certified the case for an interlocutory appeal. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment appealed from and entered final judgment dismissing the case, holding that the circuit court erred in denying Defendants' plea in bar because Defendants were entitled to the exclusivity protection provided by the Act notwithstanding their lack of workers' compensation insurance. View "David White Crane Serv. v. Howell" on Justia Law