Construction Law Attorneys Who Actually Try Cases
The Meyers Nave Construction and Facilities (CFG) Practice Group opened in July 2013 to provide specialty construction law expertise from lawyers who know the construction industry – the issues, the technologies, the language. We understand the challenges faced by owners, designers, contractors, subcontractors, construction managers, and specialty consultants. In addition to the information outlined below, please visit our Construction and Facilities Practice page for more details about our experience, expertise and results. The statewide practice is led by Principal Eric Firstman.
We Try Cases. That’s What Sets Us Apart.
Since opening, CFG has tried five complex construction disputes to final judgment or award – more than 80 “in court” days of witness examination, more than 130 depositions and more than one million separate documents. Prior to opening CFG at Meyers Nave, the trials of CFG lawyers included power plants, wastewater treatment plants, water conveyances including tunnels and associated power facilities, libraries, and detention facilities, adding another 100 “in court” days in trials of complex construction cases. With construction trial experience comes efficiency in case preparation and depth of judgment in making assessments of case value, cost and utility of discovery, managing experts, assessing strategies and settlement points.
Since opening, CFG has also settled construction claims throughout the litigation and arbitration process, often following dispositive motions, including a summary judgment on an eight-figure contractor claim on a state highway and a dismissal in the face of a summary judgment on a seven-figure contractor claim on a college facility. CFG has defended eight figure claims through discovery that then settled at the amount of the pre-litigation settlement offer, recovered seven figure settlements in mediation, and counseled clients through default terminations, litigation and settlements of claims exceeding $100 million.
CFG attorneys devote a substantial amount of time to project oversight and pre-litigation counseling on troubled projects, procurement and bidding disputes. We understand each client’s objectives and recommend pragmatic solutions to help move the project forward, whether the goal is project completion, revenue generation, or cost management. Every construction project is different and every construction dispute involves unique facts, technology, processes and contracts. CFG reviews the drawings, walks the project, meets the staff in the trailers, and studies the job photos.
CFG provides realistic assessments of entitlement, damages, litigation costs, litigation risks and uncertainties, and measures these costs against the value of prompt dispute resolution. In project counseling, CFG considers the litigation option as the option of last resort. Just as cost and schedule drive construction projects, cost and timely resolution drive construction disputes. Whether by face-to-face negotiations, facilitated negotiations, mediations, mini-trials, referees or arbitrations, CFG evaluates each case and recommends solutions for cost-effective resolution. We share our clients’ sense of urgency to find the best solutions to construction problems. We provide legal solutions that make business sense.
Structuring Construction Projects and Contracts
CFG has worked with clients to plan, structure, and draft baseline construction contract documents for design-bid-build, design-build and construction management at risk; equipment procurement; and design and consulting contracts. CFG attorneys advise on the use of construction contracts on construction projects and how construction contracts work in dispute resolution. Simple language, express risk allocations and straightforward concepts work. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to contracts, and while CFG has forms of contracts it recommends, it also has in depth experience with the various standard industry and government forms-including the contracts of the American Institute of Architects, Consensus DOCS, the Engineers Joint Contracts Documents Committee and the Construction Management Association of America.
- Hospital Project – CFG represented a hospital owner in a complex arbitration following a default termination of a design-build contractor on a $300 million hospital construction project approximately 30% complete. The case required more than 50 depositions and 20 full days of hearing testimony from more than 30 witnesses, including 20 engineering, design, schedule and damage experts. The final award granted the contractor zero on $130 million in contractor claims for lost profits and quantum meruit.
- State Highway – After construction delays and more than $10 million in change orders, the contractor on a $60 million construction contract to rebuild a state highway filed suit seeking more than $14 million in disputed changes, delays and measured mile lost productivity claims. CFG secured a summary judgment on the contractor’s affirmative claims for failure to comply with contractual administrative dispute procedures. The matter thereafter settled in a mandatory judicial conference under CCP §664, with the project owner retaining the contract retention and the contractor receiving zero on its affirmative claims.
- Reservoir Construction – CFG represented the public owner of a reservoir in the defense of $14 million in claims for delay, differing site conditions, extended overhead and lost productivity damages. The case involved more than 30 depositions and 32 days of hearing testimony from more than 20 witnesses. The initial award granted the contractor approximately 25% of the amounts claimed, however CFG tried certain defenses to the superior court by petition to vacate, resulting in a tentative ruling granting a full defense to the State. The matter was remanded for further findings on the project owner’s objections regarding pre-litigation claim requirements and the California Contractor’s License Law, and then further review by the Superior Court after remand. CFG won a second and final ruling denying the contractor’s theories of substantial compliance for a full defense on contractor claims. Appellate proceedings and disgorgement litigation continues.
- Bridge Dispute – CFG represented a public owner in a bridge construction project by navigating the owner through the general contractor’s default and termination for cause at the midpoint of construction, recovering over $450,000 in a settlement with the performance bond surety for the completion of the project by a replacement contractor, and then defending against over $2.0 million in various claims asserted against the owner. After three years of litigation, the CFG team defended against all claims and affirmatively recovered an additional $935,000 for the owner in settlement for a total recovery of over $1.38 million, approximately 98% of the original $1.44 million construction bid amount. The matter included delay and differing site conditions claims.