We’re happy to announce that our construction group has made Chambers’ short-list for the Chambers USA Award for Excellence. 2012 marks the third year in a row Duane Morris has been nominated. Criteria for the nomination includes notable achievements over a 12-month period such as outstanding work, impressive strategic growth and excellence in client service and is based on the independent research conducted for Chambers USA 2012. Congratulations to all of our construction attorneys for this recognition.
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia recently issued a decision that may have broad implications to the calculation and imposition of civil penalties in False Claim Act (FCA) cases, because, for the first time, a court refused to issue mandatory civil penalties against a contractor that was found to have violated the FCA.
More specifically, United States ex rel. Bunk v. Birkart Globalistics GmbH & Co., et. al., No. 1:02-CV-1168 (E.D. Va. February 14, 2012), involves a qui tam claim that was filed against a contractor for violations of the FCA. The alleged violations stem from a bid submitted to the Department of Defense, which included a Certificate of Independent Pricing that stated:
Prior to 2007, the Pennsylvania Mechanic’s Lien Law of 1963, 49 P.S. §1101-§1902 (the “Mechanic’s Lien Law”) operated for over 40 years in its original form, without any significant or substantive modifications. In 2007, however, amendments to the Mechanic’s Lien Law went into effect that significantly changed the statute. For example, the 2007 amendments changed, inter alia, the enforceability of upfront waivers and the definition of a “subcontractor.” In 2009, additional amendments to the Mechanic’s Lien Law went into effect which changed some of the 2007 amendments.
On March 9, 2012, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that it directed its staff to issue three Orders, which are effective immediately, to United States commercial reactor plants. According to the NRC, this expedited mandate attempts to implement “lessons learned from the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.”
Two of the Orders will apply to every U.S. commercial nuclear power plant, including those under construction and the recently licensed new Vogtle reactors. More specifically, the first Order requires the plants to better protect safety equipment installed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and to obtain sufficient equipment to support all reactors at a given site simultaneously.
A New York State court judge in Albany rejected a Department of Transportation (DOT) requirement of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on a highway project on Route 17 in the Town of Wallkill, Orange County. In an Article 78 proceeding, which challenges the determinations of a public administrative agency, a non-union low bidder on the DOT project, who refused to enter into a PLA negotiated by the DOT and made a part of the bid documents, challenged the award which ignored its bid and went to the second bidder at an added cost reported to be $4.5 million. Because the DOT failed to demonstrate that the use of the PLA advanced the interests of the State’s public bidding statutes, the petition was granted. Barring an appeal, which is expected, the DOT will be required to re-bid without the PLA requirement.
Both lawyers and clients agonize over the tactical advantages and disadvantages of arbitration and litigation. Generally, the reason for the prolonged deliberation is the parties are attempting to make a reasoned and informed decision when selecting a dispute resolution provision for their contract.
Some parties prefer arbitration, because they believe arbitration is faster and provides them with a decision-maker who is experienced in the industry. Others prefer litigation, because, among other things, they want access to a trial by jury. Costs are also a decisive factor in determining whether to arbitrate or litigate.
Last summer, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued a precedential opinion in Sloan Co. v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 653 F.3d 175 (3d Cir. 2011), that had broad implications for the construction community, because it affirmed an important industry-standard practice. More specifically, the Third Circuit held that a “pay-if-paid” provision in a subcontract, which provided that the general contractor’s receipt of full payment from the owner is an express condition precedent to the subcontractor’s right to full payment from the general contractor, was valid and enforceable by the general contractor and/or its payment bond surety.
On February 15, 2012, Governor Chris Christie announced his recommendation of twenty new capital school construction projects in eighteen municipalities. These new school projects will be financed and administered through the New Jersey Schools Development Authority (“SDA”).
The 20 projects set to advance in 2012 were divided into three categories addressing: 1) high educational priority needs; 2) high educational priority needs that require further discussions; and 3) serious facility deficiencies.
For those who have been following the developments in the false claims arena, you no doubt have that lingering thought that one of your or your client’s claims will inevitably attract a response that everyone loathes and fears – it’s a false claim! For those of you who don’t — watch out! So, I and Nicole Woolard, an associate in the Construction Group, sat down with Patrick McGeehin, CPA, of FTI Consulting to get his suggestions on best practice recommendations for avoiding federal and other public agency false claim allegations.
On February 9, 2012, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced it concluded its mandatory hearing on Southern Nuclear Operating Company’s (SNC) application for two Combined Licenses (COL) at the Vogtle site in Georgia, and that in a 4-1 vote, the NRC found the staff’s review adequate to make the necessary regulatory safety and environmental findings, clearing the way for the NRC’s Office of New Reactors to issue the COLs.