Constructive Suspension (Suspension Outside of an Express Order)

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Beauchamp Construction illustrates a constructive suspension situation.

December 13, 2022
David Adelstein - Florida Construction Legal Updates

In the federal procurement arena, there is a concept known as “constructive suspension.” Constructive suspension, while known in the federal arena, should reasonably apply to all projects when work is stopped outside of an express order to stop the work based on the law below. An unreasonable suspension is an unreasonable suspension and an express order to stop the work does not negate the effects of what really amounts to a suspension.

“Constructive suspension occurs when work is stopped absent an express order by the contracting officer and the government is found to be responsible for the work stoppage.” P.R. Burke Corp. v. U.S., 277 F.3d 1346, 1359 (Fed. Cir. 2002). The government delay must be unreasonable to support a constructive acceleration claim. Id.

“To demonstrate such a constructive suspension of work, the contractor must show that the delay (1) was for an ‘unreasonable length of time,’ (2) was proximately caused by the government’s actions, and (3) resulted in some injury to the contractor.” Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co. v. U.S., 2001 WL 36415627, *6 (Fed.Cl. 2001) (citation omitted). “Relative to proving that the delay was directly caused by the government, the contractor must concomitantly show that it was not delayed by any concurrent cause that would have independently generated the delay during the same time period even if it does not predominate over the government’s action as the cause of the delay.” Beauchamp Const. Co. v. U.S., 14 Cl.Ct. 430, 437 (Cl.Ct. 1988).

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