Articles Posted in Construction Law

by
Daniel Stolz worked for a subcontractor on a construction project when he was injured in an accident on the job site. Prior to the accident, Messer had obtained authority from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to act as the self-insuring employer on the project, which gave Messer responsibility for providing workers’ compensation coverage for its own employees as well as the employees of enrolled subcontractors on the project. Stolz brought negligence claims against Messer Construction, the general contractor, and several subcontractors. A federal district court granted summary judgment to Messer as the self-insuring employer but denied summary judgment to the subcontractors, concluding that an enrolled subcontractor on a self-insured construction project is immune from claims made by its own employees but not from those made by employees of other enrolled subcontractors. The federal court then certified a question of state law to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered that subcontractors enrolled in a self-insured construction project plan are immune from tort claims for workplace injuries from employees of other enrolled subcontractors on the same project. View "Stolz v. J & B Steel Erectors, Inc." on Justia Law

by
A.E.M. Electric Services Corporation, a general contractor, contracted with Transtar Electric, Inc., a subcontractor, to provide electrical services for the installation of a pool at Holiday Inn. A.E.M. did not pay Transtar for its last three invoices because the owner of the project had failed to pay A.E.M. for the work performed by Transtar. A.E.M. alleged that the contract between the parties, which used the phrase “receipt of payment by contractor from the owner for work performed by subcontractor is a condition precedent to payment by contractor to subcontractor for that work”, was sufficient to establish a pay-if-paid payment provision. The court of appeals concluded that the payment provision in the contract was not specific enough to show that both parties understood and agreed that the risk of the owner’s nonpayment would be borne by Transtar instead of A.E.M. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the use of the term “condition precedent” was an explicit statement of the parties’ intent to transfer the risk of the project owner’s nonpayment from A.E.M. to Transtar.View "Transtar Elec., Inc. v. A.E.M. Elec. Servs. Corp." on Justia Law

by
In 1990, construction was completed on a condominium development. In 2003, the Oaktree Condominium Association (“Oaktree”) discovered that there was a defect in the construction. In 2007, Oaktree filed an action against the builder of the condominiums. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Oaktree. The trial court, however, ruled that Oaktree’s claims were time-barred under a ten-year statute of repose enacted by the General Assembly in 2007. The court of appeals affirmed, reasoning that although the statute of repose was not in effect at the time that Oaktree’s action accrued, the action was nonetheless time-barred because Oaktree did not file its action within two years of accrual. The Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the jury verdict in favor of Oaktree, holding (1) Ohio’s construction statute of repose is unconstitutional as applied to Oaktree because the retroactive application of the statute would bar Okatree’s accrued action; (2) a cause of action that has accrued but on which no suit has been filed by the effective date of repose is governed by the relevant statute of limitations; and (3) the complaint was filed within four years of its accrual and was therefore timely under the relevant statute of limitations.View "Oaktree Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. Hallmark Bldg. Co." on Justia Law

by
Younglove Construction entered into a contract with PSD Development for the construction of a feed-manufacturing plant. When PSD withheld payment, Younglove brought this diversity suit against PSD and three other defendants. In its answer, PSD alleged it had sustained damages as a result of defects in a steel grain bin constructed by Custom Agri Systems, Inc. as a subcontractor. Younglove filed a third-party complaint against Custom Agri Systems, Inc. for contribution and indemnity. Custom turned to its insurer, Westfield Insurance Company, to defend and indemnify it in the litigation. Westfield intervened to pursue a judgment declaring it had no such duty under the terms of its commercial general liability (CGL) policy with Custom. At issue was whether the claims against Custom sought compensation for "property damage" caused by an "occurrence" under the policy. The district court granted summary judgment for Westfield. On appeal, the federal court of appeals certified questions of state law to the Supreme Court. The Court answered by holding that claims of defective construction or workmanship brought by a property owner are not claims for "property damage" caused by an "occurrence" under a CGL. View "Westfield Ins. Co. v. Custom Agri Sys., Inc." on Justia Law

by
David Barno, a temporary worker on a construction project, alleged that he was injured as a result of Ruscilli Construction Company's violation of a specific safety requirement (VSSR) pertaining to floor openings on construction sites. After a workers' compensation claim was allowed, Barno filed an application for additional compensation with Industrial Commission of Ohio, alleging a violation of Ohio Admin. Code 4123:1-3-04(D). A Commission staff hearing officer (SHO) found that Ruscilli had violated section 4123:1-3-04(D)(1). The court of appeals vacated the SHO's order and remanded the cause to the Commission, finding that the order misinterpreted the applicable safety requirement and that it was based on significant mistakes of fact. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the SHO's order contained at least four major errors involving both law and fact, and therefore, the order was premised in findings that lacked evidentiary support. View "State ex rel. Ruscilli Constr. Co. v. Indus. Comm'n " on Justia Law

by
Appellants, homeowners, filed suit against Centex Homes, alleging various causes of action, including breach of contract, breach of express and implied warranty, and failure to perform in a workmanlike manner. Centex Homes moved for summary judgment, arguing that Appellants had waived all warranties except the specific limited warranty that Centex Homes provided in the sales agreements. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and remanded for a trial on Appellants' tort claims that Centex Homes breached its duty to construct their homes in a workmanlike manner using ordinary care, as (1) in Ohio a duty to construct houses in a workmanlike manner using ordinary care is imposed by law on all home builders; and (2) a home buyer cannot waive his right to enforce the home builder's duty to construct the house in a workmanlike manner. Remanded. View "Jones v. Centex Homes" on Justia Law

by
Ohio State University entered into an agreement for construction-management services with Turner Construction Company for a construction project. Later, Ohio State selected Turner to serve as construction manager at risk through a qualifications-based selection process rather than going through a traditional competitive bidding process. Ohio State did not require Turner to furnish a surety bond to secure the performance of Turner and its subcontractors. Three trade associations, two that advance the interests of subcontractors (ASA and ASA-Ohio) and one that advances the interests of sureties (SFAA), filed an action for a writ of mandamus to compel Ohio State to require that Turner furnish a bond as construction manager at risk. The Supreme Court dismissed the claims of ASA and ASA-Ohio and denied SFAA's mandamus claim, holding that (1) because ASA and ASA-Ohio did not establish that any of their members had been injured by Ohio State's decision, they lacked standing to raise their mandamus claim; and (2) because the applicable legislation does not require a bonding requirement, SFAA was not entitled to the requested relief in mandamus.