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Contractor's 'GUESSTIMATES' Sunk Its Attempt to Recover Delay Damages

Tuesday, January 08, 2019 02:47 pm


Breach of Contract 

Patrick Concrete Constructors, Inc. v. Layne Christensen Co., 2018 U.S. Dist. Lexis 209554 (December 12, 2018)

When a contractor admitted to essentially guessing at delay damages amounts, the court had no choice but to dismiss its claims.  

Patrick Concrete Constructors, Inc. (Patrick) was the general contractor on a Valley Joint Sewer Authority project to construct a waste water treatment plant in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Patrick entered into a $2.9-million subcontract with Layne Christensen Company (Layne) to perform "certain concrete work and other associated work" on the project. The project was completed later than either anticipated, and Layne was required to pay liquidated damages to the Sewer Authority. 

In court, Patrick sought its own share of delay damages. It charged Layne with breach of contract, arguing that the sub's project conduct caused the contractor to sustain damages in the form of "labor and materials escalation, loss of productivity, procurement and impact costs, field and home office overhead, idle equipment, inability to take on other work, lost profits, and interest." 

Layne countered that Patrick failed to complete its work in a timely and workmanlike manner---and that the parties' subcontract barred the damages Patrick sought. Layne filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss Patrick's claims for two specific delay damages: change orders and extra costs. The court granted Layne's motion.

Contractor claimed $1.5M in delay damages

Under Pennsylvania law, "entitlement to relief on a breach of contract claim [...]

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