The contract governing the construction project required any request for an extension of time filed by petitioner to include a statement, "in detail," that petitioner "waives all claims except for those delineated in the application, and the particulars of any claims which [petitioner] does not agree to waive.
Apparently, the contractor did not sufficiently identify the claims it wished to preserve when it submitted an extension request. The Contract Dispute Resolution Board (CDRB) determined that the contractor had, thus, waived the claims. The Appellate Division agreed and rejected the contractor's argument that the parties prior course of conduct should support no such waiver. The Court noted that such and argument (called estoppel) is generally unavailable against government agencies and the particular contract at issue here specifically mentioned that the conduct of the City and its agents could not create an estoppel situation.
The case is a good reminder to contractors to carefully read their contracts and be careful in sending out notices. When sending out any contract notices it is a good idea to engage counsel to review the contract and the notice and make sure that any possible claims are properly preserved. It is never too early to engage counsel. A bit of review and consultation during the project could potentially save tens of thousands of dollars on later litigation.
The case was LAWS Const. Corp. v. CDRB.
Vincent T. Pallaci is the managing member of Kushnick Pallaci PLLC. His practice concentrates on construction law including contract drafting and review.