Wood Electric Wins 100% of its Claim Against the State

Kegler Brown Construction Newsletter

Many of our contactor clients have had no choice but to assert claims on State projects. In one such case, Wood Electric was faced with a situation where the general trades contractor failed to enclose the building, as promised in the contract documents, before winter conditions made the electrical work more inefficient.

We tried the case before Judge Crawford in the Court of Claims. Judge Crawford found that Wood Electric gave timely notice of its claim pursuant to Article 8 of the State’s contract and that the State breached the contract through the shortcomings of its construction manager, who failed to properly apply the contractual requirements on building enclosure. The Court then went on to award Wood Electric 100% of its claim amount at trial, even though it was higher than the original Article 8 claim submitted. In that regard the Court found:

“that Wood Electric is not limited on its damages as a result of the claim. The Court believes that once a case reaches the Court of Claims for trial, a party is not limited to the damages it sought in its Article 8 claim. Supplemental damages and damages not contemplated at the time the claim was filed may be obtained at trial.”

Judge Crawford determined that the “measured mile” analysis by Wood Electric’s expert witness Tim Calvey was a reasonable measure of the electrician’s labor inefficiency even if the impacted and non-impacted periods were not identical. Judge Crawford also found that extended home office overhead should be awarded for the period of delay, pursuant to ODOT’s HOOP formula. The Court wrote that:

“Where a right to damages has been established, such right will not be denied merely because a party cannot demonstrate with mathematical certainty the amount of damages done.”

The Court was also critical of an appearance of impropriety with respect to the decision making of the construction manager, who had business interests with the non-performing general contractor.

It is not yet known whether the State will attempt to appeal this decision.