Here at Construction Law Musings, I’ve discussed arbitration clauses (pros and cons) as well as the fact that in our fair Commonwealth, contracts are enforced as written (for better or worse). A case out of the Eastern District of Virginia takes both of these observations and uses them to make it’s decision.
In United States ex rel. Harbor Constr. Co. v. T.H.R. Enters., the Newport News Division of the Eastern District of Virginia federal court considered the following provision and it’s enforceability:
At CONTRACTOR’s sole election, any and all disputes arising in any way or related in any way or manner to this Agreement may be decided by mediation, arbitration or other alternative dispute resolution proceedings as chosen by CONTRACTOR…. The remedy shall be SUBCONTRACTOR’s sole and exclusive remedy in lieu of any claim against CONTRACTOR’s bonding company pursuant to the terms of any bond or any other procedure or law, regardless of the outcome of the claim. The parties further agree that all disputes under this Subcontract shall be determined and interpreted pursuant to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia….
This provision was the crux of the argument made by T. H. R., the Defendant, in making a motion to dismiss or stay the lawsuit for payment filed by Harbor Construction. As background, Harbor Construction contracted with T. H. R. to perform work at Langley Air Force Base. Alleging non-payment of approximately $250,000.00, Harbor filed a complaint with three counts, one under the Federal Miller Act, one for breach of contract, and a third for unjust enrichment.