Be Careful with Continuous Breach and Statute of Limitations

Hourglass and the word Time

Don’t sit on your rights and be sure that you are counting from the right date.

January 21, 2019
Christopher G. Hill - Construction Law Musings

If you are a construction attorney like me (or anyone that takes cases to court), you deal with statutes of limitation on a daily basis. These statutes seem pretty simple. A party has “X” amount of time in which to file its lawsuit after accural of the cause of action. In a breach of contract suit, the accrual is the date of breach. Easy, right? Wrong, at least in some circumstances.

Take for example, the case of Fluor Fed. Sols., LLC v. PAE Applied Techs., LLC out of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. In this unpublished opinion the Court looked at “continuous breach” versus “series of separate breaches.” The basic facts are that in 2000 Flour entered into a contract with PAE whereby PAE requested and claims to have received consent from Flour to a 2.3% administrative cost cap on Flour’s work on an Air Force contract. Flour claimed that it did not agree to this cap. In 2002, Flour begain billing PAE for its costs plus the 2.3% administrative markup and billed in this fashion for the first full year. However, in subsequent years and for the next 11 years, Flour billed PAE at a higher markup rate than the 2.3%. PAE disputed the increased markup and paid Flour at the 2.3% rate. Flour periodically protested but made no move to court until it filed suit in March of 2016. After a bench trial, the district court found that Flour had agreed to the cap and found for PAE.

Mr. Hill may be contacted at chrisghill@constructionlawva.com



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