Ambiguity Kills in Construction Contracting

Two businessmen on table with contract and coffee cups

The expensive proposition of litigation can be made less so with clearer contracts.

May 27, 2019
Christopher G. Hill - Construction Law Musings

Well, I’m back and hope to have a more consistent publishing schedule moving forward. I appreciate the continued readership through what has been a busy time for my solo construction practice over the last couple of months. Now, back to our program. . .

Here at Construction Law Musings, I have often beaten the drum of a solid contract that leaves as little as possible to chance or the dreaded “grey areas” where we construction lawyers like to make money. An example of the issues that can arise from ambiguity can be found in a case from 2017 in the Western District of Virginia, W.C. English, Inc. v. Rummel, Klepper & Kahl, LLP et al

In this case, English, a general contractor, entered into a contract for Quality Assurance (QA) functions with RK&K, the defendant, on a contract English entered into with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). Needless to say, because this would not be a post at Musings otherwise, there were issues with the QA performed by RK&K leading to additional costs for English to correct certain work that did not comply with the contract documents between VDOT and English. English sued for breach of contract based upon a term sheet, signed by the parties, from RK&K that required RK&K to indemnify English for claims by VDOT that related to RK&K’s work (the English Term Sheet). RK&K moved to dismiss the complaint based upon a different term sheet, also signed by the parties, which stated that RK&K could not be held responsible for English’s failure to perform pursuant to the contract documents (the RK&K Term Sheet).

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



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