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State Lawis Strict: Take Extracare With Claim Notices For Extra Pay

Friday, June 18, 2010 01:36 am

 

Contractors, heed contract notice provisions to the letter, or you'll foot the bill for costs associated with additional work. The fact that the owner had actual knowledge of your extra work and request for extra pay has little bearing on your chance to recoup in state court. Without compliant notice of your claim, you're out of luck.

A case in point is the recent Razorback Contractors of Kansas, Inc. v. The Board of County Commissioners of Johnson County, Kansas, Lexis 35 (Kan. App. 2010): Two months into a county project to construct a sewer line, Razorback Contractors of Kansas, Inc. (Razorback) encountered  "unanticipated water conditions" that caused delays. It complained to the project engineer but did not stop work or request additional compensation, as required by its contract.Razorback finished the project and then -- nine months after encountering the wet conditions -- submitted written notice of its request for an additional $1.3 million.Razorback sued for that amount and in its arguments relied on its substantial compliance with the written notice requirements and the fact that the owner had actual knowledge of its claim. The court would not overlook clear contract language. In addition to written notice of differing site conditions, the contract required a written request for extra compensation within 30 days of the reason for such a request. Razorback clearly failed to comply. In its decision, the Kansas court cited many other state courts' strict adherence to notice provisions in public contracts, as follows:

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