The COVID-19 coronavirus is impacting every aspect of the economy, and construction will not be exempt. Materials and deliveries may be slowed, crews quarantined and unavailable, and projects delayed. We view COVID-19 as an event beyond the control of a party (an “act of G-d”), falling within the force majeure provision of most contracts. Some
On October 23, 2019, the Ohio House of Representatives introduced a bill (H.B. No. 380) that would amend Ohio’s Prompt Pay Act (ORC Section 4113.61) to provide general contractors with payment protection similar to that currently enjoyed by subcontractors under the Act. Specifically, the proposal would require project owners to pay contractors within 35 days…
The most common types of “differing and changed conditions” in construction contracts deal with subsurface issues such as inadequate support, unanticipated groundwater, or unanticipated natural or artificial subsurface obstructions. But what happens when an unusual differing and changed condition, such as an endangered species, or even an unexpected burial ground, impacts your project?…
Continue Reading What to Do When Your Employees Are Dive Bombed By Falcons
Unit pricing and other confidential information contained within your bid documents may be recognized as a trade secret under Ohio’s Uniform Trade Secret Act and similar federal laws. What does that mean? In simple terms, it means that even on a public project subject to applicable public records laws, contractors can prevent disclosure of their trade secrets to the world, including their competitors.
Continue Reading Contractors – Protect Your Confidential Information from Wrongful Disclosure
Hahn Loeser’s Construction Team is a proud leader in a major victory for Ohio contractors and their sureties. The Fifth District Court of Appeals of Ohio issued a recent decision confirming that Ohio’s construction statute of repose, R.C. 2305.131, applies to breach of contract claims. It also confirmed that sureties are entitled to rely on the statute of repose as a defense to claims under the bond.
Continue Reading Ohio Court of Appeals Confirms Applicability of Statute of Repose to Contract Claims and Sureties
Steel and other construction material tariffs necessitate careful evaluation and allocation of project cost and schedule risks. For example, when steel costs increased suddenly based solely on presidential executive orders, the building trades and owners saw drastic increases in costs, shop drawing review times and delivery dates. In many instances, contract documents failed to account for such risks.
Another factor that can significantly increase the price of material, and even the market price for labor, include catastrophic weather events. When bad weather occurs, contractors may no longer be able to obtain the material at originally budgeted pricing, or secure necessary labor forces to perform the work. Labor and material shortages domino into project delays, potential liquidated damages and claims.
While electronic funds transfer is considered a convenient and quicker way to process payments and receive funds on construction projects, this practice presents significant risk to project participants. Contractual and processing controls are necessary to prevent fraud, which is on the rise locally and nationally.
Continue Reading Owners and Contractors Beware! Electronic Payments in Construction Are Subject to Increased Fraud
The Ohio Department of Transportation recently announced significant changes to the On the Job Training Program (“OJT Program”) that will take effect on January 1, 2019. Because these changes will impact on-going multi-year projects as well as new ODOT projects that will begin construction in 2019, all Ohio contractors are advised to review and familiarize themselves with the new changes. The complete OJT Program manual is available on the ODOT website here. The following is a brief summary of the major changes and how they will impact Ohio contractors in the years ahead.
Continue Reading New ODOT On-The-Job Training Rules Take Effect January 1, 2019
Ohio High Court’s October 2018 Ruling Denying Coverage for Defective Construction Work Confirms Need to Re-Evaluate and Revise Traditional Risk Transfer Mechanisms
Beware! On October 9, 2018, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a final ruling that, not surprisingly, will effectively eliminate meaningful insurance coverage for contractors, subcontractors, and owners for defective construction work. The most recent ruling reaffirms what experienced construction counsel cautioned for years; project participants cannot rely on comprehensive general liability (“CGL”) insurance coverage to remediate defective or non-conforming work. According to the Ohio Supreme Court, although defective construction work causes “property damage,” that damage is neither “accidental” nor “fortuitous” and, therefore, represents an “ordinary business risk” that members of the construction industry must manage without recourse to insurance proceeds. It does not matter that the cause of loss was defective work of a contractor or its downstream subcontractor. This decision is a significant, if not insurmountable, bar to insureds forcing insurers to defend defective work claims, pay for expert evaluations, or to fund settlements under standard coverage forms that have permeated the Ohio construction industry for decades. The Court held that, under the terms of these form insurance agreements, no downstream insurance coverage exists for damages arising from defective work of a subcontractor. Ohio Northern University v. Charles Construction Company, et al. (Ohio Supreme Court, October 9, 2018)
It is critical that industry participants understand the far-reaching and long-term effects of the Ohio Northern University decision and take prompt action to evaluate and mitigate risk or loss. The decision reaffirms and expands the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Westfield Ins. Co. v. Custom Agri Sys., Inc. to the detriment of Ohio’s construction industry participants since it involved a contractor’s policy, and it denied coverage under standard “products completed operations” (“PCOC”) endorsements. For years, insurance agents and insureds’ assumed PCOC endorsements and related policy provisions covered losses arising after substantial completion to the extent the cause of loss was a subcontractor or other lower tier’s defective work. The October 2018 Supreme Court ruling will also impact available insurance coverage for work performed out of state if a contractor’s or subcontractor’s CGL policies are governed by Ohio law.
On October 9, 2018, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that general liability insurance purchased by a contractor does not cover the defective work of its subcontractors. As a result, even with additional subcontractor coverage, a commercial general liability (CGL) policy does not cover downstream defective work.
Continue Reading Ohio High Court Rejects Coverage for Defective Work of Subcontractors