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Owner Interference With Intended Early Completion

Tuesday, December 02, 2003 06:05 pm

Owner Interference With Intended Early Completion

Contractors sometimes plan and bid a contract with the intention of completing the work in less time than allowed under the terms of the contract. A shorter total elapsed time at the job site reduces performance costs. A contractor also might be able to avoid periods of inclement weather by completing the work early.

If a contractor has scheduled early completion, and the project owner delays or interferes with the contractor's performance, preventing the contractor from meeting its intended completion date, is the contractor entitled to delay damages? A project owner would reply that if the contractor was able to complete the work in the time allowed under the contract, the contractor has received the benefit of its bargain and has suffered no damages. Owners also argue that any contractor recovery would have to be predicated on contractor notification to the owner of the intended early completion and owner approval of such a schedule.

The case law indicates that while recovery is possible, it is difficult. State case law is sparse. But a couple older cases expressly authorize contractor recovery for owner interference with scheduled early completion, while not providing a great deal of information regarding the elements of recovery. Housing Authority of the City of Texarkana v. E. W. Johnson Construction Co., Inc., 573 S.W.2d 316 (Ark. 1978). Shore Bridge Corp. v. State of New York, 61 N.Y.S.2d 32 (Ct.Cl.N.Y. 1946).

Federal case law is more developed on this issue and therefore more instructive. The leading case is Weaver-Bailey Contractors, Inc. v. United States, 19 Cl.Ct. [...]

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