Burr Alert: What Should Parties Do With Unusually Severe Weather on a Construction Project?
Rain. Snow. Sleet. Ice. The winter elements this year have been unusually severe throughout the country. While weather affects our everyday lives, it can be especially crippling to the delivery of materials, the schedule of activities, and the construction project as a whole.
In Daewoo Eng'g & Constr. Co. v. U.S., 557 F.3d 1332 (Fed. Cir. 2009), the contractor involved in building a 53-mile road around the island of Babeldaob submitted to the Corps a claim for delays and additional costs incurred because of high humidity, rainy weather and moist soils encountered on the project. The contractor sought $13 million in additional costs incurred and more than $50 million for future costs not yet incurred. The government filed a counter-claim alleging fraud and other violations.
Although the appellate decision focuses on the government's claims, the lessons learned about delays stem from the trial court's opinion. The trial court criticized the contractor's witnesses for lacking credibility. The court concluded that the $50 million portion of the contractor's claim addressing future costs was no more than "a claim to gain leverage against the United States [and] violates the principles on which Congress enacted the Contract Disputes Act." The contractor was seeking a substantial modification of compaction requirements for embankment that would have greatly reduced problems for the contractor. In the court's view, the $50 million in future costs was an inflated figure inserted into the claim as a ploy to expedite the Corps' decision on whether to modify the compaction requirements.