New York University Gets $100M Donation for Engineering School

NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering received a $100-million donation from trustee Chandrika Tandon and her husband, Ranjan. The school will be renamed the Tandon School of Engineering. The Tandons said in a statement that they “hope their gift will bring many more of us together to reinvent engineering.”

NYU President John Sexton said the funds would go to faculty, financial aid and new areas of engineering. NYU pledged to raise an additional $50 million in response to the donation. The engineering school has approximately 5,000 students.

Jose A. Aquino (@JoseAquinoEsq on Twitter) is a special counsel in the New York office of Duane Morris LLP, where he is a member of the Construction Group and focuses his practice on commercial litigation with a concentration in construction law, mechanics’ lien law and government procurement law.. This blog is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s law firm or its individual attorneys.

Duane Morris’ Allen J. Ross Named by Best Lawyers as “Lawyer of the Year” for 2016

Duane Morris is pleased to announce that partner Allen J. Ross in the firm’s New York office has been selected by Best Lawyers as the “Lawyer of the Year” in New York City Litigation – Construction law for 2016, the second-consecutive year he has been honored with this distinction. Only one lawyer in each practice area and city is given this honor. Lawyers are selected based on high marks received during the extensive peer-review assessments conducted by Best Lawyers each year.

Mr. Ross has more than 45 years of experience practicing law in the areas of construction, litigation and real estate. In addition to traditional legal work, he has developed a career in alternative dispute resolution in the construction industry, serving as an arbitrator, mediator and dispute review board chair. His previous honors include continual listings in Best Lawyers in America since 2006 and in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business since 2008.


Duane Morris Partner Richard Lowe to Present at ABA’s “Yes, You Can Try a Construction Case: Planning and Handling a Construction Trial from Voir Dire to Closing Argument” Program

Duane Morris partner Richard Lowe will be presenting at the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Litigation’s Regional CLE Workshop, titled “Yes, You Can Try a Construction Case: Planning and Handling a Construction Trial From Voir Dire to Closing Arguments,” which will be held on Wednesday, September 9, 2015, in New York City. Mr. Lowe will participate in a panel discussion on “Wrapping It Up; Closing Arguments and Effective Use of Jury Instructions in a Construction Case” from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

For more information about the CLE workshop, please visit the event page on the Duane Morris website.

A Promising Future for Public-Private Partnerships in Georgia

Partner Antony L. Sanacory and associate William W. Fagan III, in Georgia, discuss the fiscal restraints at all levels of government that have made curating new projects and repairing existing facilities even more difficult propositions, in their article for the Daily Report. In the face of these challenges, the Georgia General Assembly and the State University System of Georgia have taken imperative steps to solve these issues by adopting the use of public-private partnerships (P3s) in the state . A P3 is formed through a contractual agreement between a public (federal, state or local) agency and a private sector or entity. The idea is to have the public sector obtain ownership of the project with the costs and risks being maintained and financed by the private sector. In the future, there will most likely be more P3 projects.

To read the full text of the article, please visit the Duane Morris website.

Mayor De Blasio Appoints Maria Torres-Springer As Next NYC Economic Development Corporation President

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Maria Torres-Springer as the next president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). EDC is a not-for-profit corporation charged with using New York City’s assets to promote economic growth, create jobs and improve the quality of life in in each of the City’s five boroughs. EDC also helps create affordable housing, new parks, shopping areas, community centers and cultural centers.

Torres-Springer will be the first woman to lead EDC. She has been the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) since 2014. Former EDC president Kyle Kimball resigned in March to join Consolidated Edison as Vice President of Government Relations.

“Maria has a proven track-record opening doors for New Yorkers and working closely with businesses to grow our economy. We are proud to have her lead EDC. Maria will focus on growing vital sectors in our economy, and preparing New Yorkers to seize those opportunities so they can be a part of our economic success story,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Before being appointed Commissioner of SBS, Torres-Springer served as the Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff at EDC. Torres-Springer has also served at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development & Rebuilding as a Senior Policy Advisor and as the Chief Operating Officer of Friends of the Highline. Torres-Springer received a B.A. in Ethics, Politics and Economics from Yale University and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Jose A. Aquino (@JoseAquinoEsq on Twitter) is a special counsel in the New York office of Duane Morris LLP, where he is a member of the Construction Group and focuses his practice on commercial litigation with a concentration in construction law, mechanics’ lien law and government procurement law.. This blog is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s law firm or its individual attorneys.

Calculating Lost Labor Productivity: Is There a Better Way?

The calculation of lost labor productivity, also termed labor inefficiencies, is one of the most significant elements of damages in a construction dispute and one of the most controversial. If these damages are proven, the monetary value claim can be a considerable amount. This is far from surprising seeing as labor costs can make up to 30 to 50% of overall project costs and if these projects lose money, the unanticipated labor costs result from lesser unexpected productivity. Lost labor productivity has become controversial since owners and general contractors are skeptical of the methods in curating these calculations can be considered questionable, speculative, and illusory. The article will further define how lost labor productivity claims developed; the interplay of Daubert in the pursuit of, and defense against, such claims; and recent federal and state  case law addressing loss productivity.

The full article, written by Duane Morris partner Daniel E. Toomey and Duane Morris associate Joshua S. Marks, along with Dr. Tong Zhao, P.E. and J. Mark Dungan of Delta Consulting Group, Inc., is available on the Duane Morris LLP website, courtesy of The Construction Lawyer.


Duane Morris’ Construction Group Nominated for 2015 Chambers USA Award for Excellence

Duane Morris is pleased to announce that the firm’s Construction Group has once again been nominated for one of the prestigious Chambers USA Awards for Excellence. This is the fifth overall nomination for the group, which has been recognized among the top national practices by Chambers for the past several years. Duane Morris is one of only six firms to be finalists in the construction category this year.

The Awards for Excellence honor outstanding firms based on research conducted for Chambers USA 2015. These awards reflect a law firm’s preeminence in key practice areas, as well as notable achievements over a 12-month period, including outstanding work; impressive strategic growth; and excellence in client service.

The Chambers USA Awards for Excellence winners will be announced on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.

Tort-Based Indemnity/Contribution Remedies Not Available to Shift Contract Damages

The economic loss rule is alive and well in California. In State Ready Mix, Inc. v. Moffatt & Nichol (2015) 232 Cal.App.4th 1227, the Court of Appeal ruled that a concrete supplier (State Ready Mix, Inc., or “Supplier”) could not seek equitable indemnity or contribution from an engineer for the cost to remove and replace Supplier’s concrete that was non-compliant with Supplier’s own contract.  Although the Court minced no words when it described the factual basis for its ruling (“If [Supplier] wants to see who is at fault, it should look in the mirror.”), the most notable aspect of the opinion was its analysis and rejection of the legal theories of potential liability. Continue reading Tort-Based Indemnity/Contribution Remedies Not Available to Shift Contract Damages

Prevailing Wage Violation Invites Unsuccessful Bidder’s Tort Claim

Failing to pay prevailing wages on a public works project can have consequences beyond labor code penalties and claims for unpaid wages.  Contractors who “unlawfully deflate their labor costs” by intentionally violating prevailing wage laws in order to win contracts are also subject to tort claims by the second lowest bidder for interference with prospective economic advantage.  Traditionally, the disappointed second bidder’s only recourse has been to challenge the bid process or the bid itself for irregularities via a bid protest.  But under the tort theory of interference, the runner-up can seek tort damages from the winning bidder if it can establish that the winning bid was the result of the contractor’s manipulation of the bidding process.

The recent case of Roy Allan Slurry Seal, et al. v American Asphalt South, Inc. (2/20/2015) 2015 Cal App Lexis 164, illustrates this point.  In Roy Allan, two slurry seal contractors brought five separate actions against a third contractor after finishing second on 23 public works road sealing projects involving almost $15 million in contract work in five counties in Southern California.  Plaintiffs filed complaints in each county, alleging that they would have been awarded the contract as the lowest bidder in each instance had the defendant’s bids included labor costs based on paying the prevailing wage.  They asserted a tort cause of action for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, as well as claims for defendant’s alleged violations of California’s Unfair Practices Act (“”UPA”) and Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”).

Continue reading Prevailing Wage Violation Invites Unsuccessful Bidder’s Tort Claim

President Orders Federally Funded Construction Projects To Plan For Flood Risks From Climate Change

On January 30, 2015, President Barack Obama signed an executive order requiring all federally funded construction projects to take into account flood risks linked to climate change.  Federal agencies will now be required to account for the impact of possible flooding from rising sea levels resulting from global warming by meeting one of following three requirements:

  • Use the best-available climate science.
  • Build two feet above the 100-year (1 percent annual chance) flood elevation for standard projects and three feet above for critical buildings like hospitals and evacuation centers.
  • Build to the 500-year (0.2 percent annual chance) flood elevation.

The objective of the new policy is to build federal buildings and highways at safe distances away from flood areas that are expected to deteriorate as a result of climate change. “By requiring that Federally funded buildings, roads and other infrastructure are constructed to better withstand the impacts of flooding, the President’s action will support the thousands of communities that have strengthened their local floodplain management codes and standards, and will help ensure Federal projects last as long as intended,” the White House Council on Environmental Quality said in a fact sheet.

Rachel Cleetus, the lead economist and climate policy manager with the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, called the President’s action common sense. Below is Ms. Cleetus’ statement.

“This should be one of the least controversial executive orders the president has ever released. Why would the federal government build or repair buildings in ways that continue to put communities at risk? And why would we waste taxpayer dollars rebuilding in ways that are likely to result in repeated future flooding damages? This executive order is simply common sense. In fact, many communities across the country already recognize this and have issued building design guidelines that call for two feet of freeboard above the 100-year base flood elevation.

“This standard hasn’t been substantially changed in 37 years. Meanwhile, flood losses have increased and will continue to get worse with climate change, which is increasing flooding risks by contributing to higher seas and more severe storm surge along our coasts, and also heavier rains in some parts of the country. At the same time, more development in coastal areas is putting more people and property at risk.

“We’re also now seeing flooding on sunny days. Flooding during high tides—something that rarely occurred in the past—is now common in some places on the East and Gulf coasts of the U.S. Tidal flooding is expected grow to the point that sections of coastal cities will flood so often they’ll become unusable in the near future, according to a study the Union of Concerned Scientists released in October. Most of the 52 coastal towns we looked at could see a tripling in annual tidal floods in 15 years and a tenfold increase in 30 years.

“It’s bad policy to rebuild in ways that perpetuate our risk of flooding and to sink taxpayer dollars into risky rebuilding efforts. Federal funds should instead be spent on making coastal communities more resilient to sea level rise and coastal flooding.”

To read the Executive Order, click here.

To read the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, click here.

To read the White House Council on Environmental Quality fact sheet, click here.