SOUTH DAKOTA SUPREME COURT UPDATE: Bad Faith, Bad Facts, or Bad Arguments?

Sometimes lawyers and contractors can be tempted to complain that an engineer, judge, or arbitrator just didn’t “get it.” If that is the problem, maybe we should ask, why not? A contractor’s case gets buried. The South Dakota Supreme Court recently tossed out a lawsuit against an engineer brought by a contractor who was seeking […]

What is Your Lien Strategy?

You’re about to start work for a privately-owned project. You have negotiated the best possible contract terms, studied the plans, and are ready to send your best people to the job. All that remains is to perform quality work and submit the necessary paperwork, right? Only if you have a plan in place to protect […]

Hidden Duty, Real Responsibilities: Good Faith and Fair Dealing

As written, most construction contracts leave lots of space for interpretation. These ambiguous or gray areas are often what lead to contract disputes. Parties involved in the design, bid, and build process may naturally assume the most favorable version of terms, and it can be tempting to take advantage of the contract’s lack of clarity. […]

Worker Misclassification: Avoiding the Road to Ruin

According to the United States Department of Labor, “Misclassification” occurs when a worker, who is an employee under the law, is incorrectly classified as something other than an employee (usually an independent contractor). The risks of misclassifying workers could affect the worker, the employer, or both. Workers misclassified as independent contractors are subject to self-employment […]

Iowa Court of Appeals Ventures into The Twilight Zone of CGL Insurance

Imagine a window, installed by your subcontractor, with faulty seals. Are you covered under your liability insurance if water seeps through those seals? General liability (or CGL) insurance is everywhere. It is an essential tool required by construction contracts, yet it might be one of our most mysterious tools. Sometimes, knowing if and when coverage […]

Workers’ Comp Benefits Awarded to Prankster in South Dakota

The South Dakota Supreme Court awarded workers’ compensation benefits this summer to an employee who injured himself while running away from a co-worker he had just pranked. While waiting for a delivery, a hot and bored concrete laborer coaxed his co-worker out of an air-conditioned truck so he could enjoy it himself. After cooling down […]

Does Your Scope of Work Mean What You Think It Means?

Does your scope of work mean what you think it means? The Iowa Court of Appeals tells one prime contractor NO. It’s not inconceivable that two parties with different incentives may disagree about the meaning of contract language. In subcontracts, scope of work language provides a ripe source of disputes, especially if this important language […]

North Dakota Joins Iowa and Minnesota in Limiting “No Damage for Delay”

After being awarded a contract to remove silt and debris from an empty lakebed, the contractor was ready to begin work, and was understandably surprised to find the lake filled with water. To make matters worse, the owner ordered the project to start anyway, and then refused to pay any of the extra costs. Despite […]

Keeping Your Head Out of the Sand: The Duty to Inquire

As spring makes way for summer, companies can shift focus from potential projects to a more manageable number of awarded projects. Although estimators have already analyzed countless details, the bidding process also encompasses lost projects and requires judgment calls under short deadlines. When your team revisits the details of each awarded project, they should ask […]