Contractor’s Claim for Interest on Subcontractor’s Defective Work Claim Gains Mixed Results

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Skanska USA Bldg., Inc. v. J.D. Long Masonry, Inc., No. SAG-16-933, 2019 BL 336852, 2019 US Dist Lexis 152787 (D. Md. Sept. 9, 2019)

April 27, 2020
John J. Gazzola, Associate, Pepper Hamilton LLP - ConsensusDocs

This case concerns calculation of a damages award to a general contractor, Skanska USA Building, Inc., on its claim for breach of contract against its masonry subcontractor, J.D. Long Masonry, Inc., arising from Long’s faulty construction of a masonry façade at a medical research facility in Baltimore. When the façade collapsed and Long failed to repair it, Skanska hired a replacement subcontractor, C.A. Lindman, to remediate Long’s defective work and filed suit against Long to recover the resulting damages. After the court granted Skanska’s motion for summary judgment as to liability, Skanska moved for summary judgment on the issue of damages, relying on the indemnification provision of the subcontract to seek compensatory damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, and litigation fees. In the subcontract, Long agreed to indemnify and hold Skanska harmless from all claims, losses, costs and expenses, including attorneys’ fees, arising before or after completion of Long’s work, caused by, arising out of, resulting from, or occurring in connection with Long’s performance of the work or breach of the subcontract.

The court first applied the terms of this provision to award Skanska compensatory damages, holding that Skanska was, as a matter of law, entitled to recover the amount of the Lindman subcontract and general conditions incurred to supervise remediation of Long’s work. The court, however, denied Skanska’s claim for pre-judgment interest on the entirety of these damages. Skanska asserted that it was entitled to pre-judgment interest on the full award, calculated from the date on which it first paid Lindman. The court disagreed, explaining that, under Maryland law, a claimant is entitled to an award of pre-judgment interest as of right only when the amount due is certain, definite and liquidated by a specific date prior to judgment. The court reasoned that, because much of the Lindman subcontract value was composed of later-executed change orders, an award of pre-judgment interest could not be uniformly calculated back to the date of Skanska’s first payment to Lindman. And moreover, because Skanska continued to withhold sums due to Lindman pending resolution of certain issues, awarding Skanska pre-judgment interest on amounts it had not yet paid would result in a “windfall” to Skanska because there was no “use of income” loss to be compensated.

Mr. Gazzola may be contacted at gazzolaj@pepperlaw.com



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