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'Total Time Theory' Can't Excuse Contractor's Delay

Friday, September 21, 2012 05:53 am

 

Delays--Damages

Catel, Inc. v. U.S., 2012 Ct. Fed. Cl. Lexis 927 (July 31, 2012)

As a general rule in claims, where one side presents a general argument and global theories, the best defense lies in details. Here, the Navy presented overwhelming written documentation to devastate a contractor's case for government-caused delays.

The U.S. Navy hired Catel Inc. (Catel) to construct a recreation center on a New Jersey pier. Catel fell behind schedule, and the Navy eventually brought in a replacement contractor to correct and complete Catel's work. The Navy refused to pay Catel's final invoice, claiming that liquidated damages and other offsets exceeded the balance. After the contracting officer denied its claim, Catel filed suit in the Court of Federal Claims, seeking the unpaid balance plus reimbursement for liquidated damages and expenses--a total of more than $500,000. Catel claimed that the Navy had interfered with its work and delayed the project's completion. The court was unpersuaded.

Catel laid the blame for its performance delays entirely on the Navy. It claimed it was "at all times ready, willing, and able to perform," but that the Navy failed to provide accurate building plans and specifications and repeatedly modified the nature of the work.

To make its liability argument stick, Catel had to establish the extent of the delay, the harm it suffered as a result, and the causal link between the Navy's wrongful acts and the delay. See Essex Electro Eng'rs, Inc. v. Danzig, 224 F.3d 1283, 1295 (Fed. Cir. 2000); Mega Constr. Co. v. U.S., 29 Fed. Cl. 396, 424 (1993); Saue [...]

 
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