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Specifications Did Not Warrant Successful Result Plans And Specifications; Warranty-implied

Monday, June 02, 2003 02:58 pm

Specifications Did Not Warrant Successful Result Plans And Specifications; Warranty-implied

The U.S. court of Appeals has ruled that the dewatering specifications of a contract did not warrant a successful result, but instead presented the contractor with a patent ambiguity. And a governmental authority was immune from suit for misrepresentation.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) planned to solicit bids for construction of a subway tunnel. WMATA's geotechnical consultant initially concluded that it would not be feasible to dewater the site to an extent that would allow the use of open face tunnel boring equipment. The consultant later revised that opinion and stated that an appropriate dewatering system would permit open face tunneling. The consultant provided a detailed dewatering design that included more than 300 dewatering wells.

WMATA issued an invitation for bids which authorized open face tunneling. WMATA did not include the consultant's reports in the bid package. And WMATA's specified dewatering system called for only 61 dewatering wells.

The contract mandated implementation of the specified dewatering system but also included the following language: "Additional wells beyond the specified minimum dewatering system may be required to effectively reduce hydrostatic pressure and control groundwater in soil surrounding each tunnel in order to prevent the following...(c) Maintain groundwater 2 feet below invert."

WMATA accepted the low, fixed-price bid of the joint vent [...]

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