Resolving Subcontractor Disputes with Pass-Through Claims and Liquidation Agreements

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Contractors can minimize their exposure to a subcontractor’s claim by utilizing a pass-through claim procedure.

May 13, 2024
Stephanie Cooksey - Peckar & Abramson, P.C.

Imagine a project where you are unable to reach final completion due to an unresolved subcontractor claim. If the project owner is responsible for the claim, and both the owner and subcontractor are entrenched in their positions, how would you resolve this dispute?

The default option is a three-party lawsuit where the subcontractor sues you in your capacity as general contractor. By denying the claim, you bring the owner into the lawsuit as a liable party to the subcontractor’s claim. This option is efficient from the judicial system’s perspective, as it means one lawsuit instead of two. The subcontractor cannot sue the owner since the two have no contract between them. Thus, the subcontractor’s recourse is limited to suing the contractor. In the three-party lawsuit, you argue that if the subcontractor prevails in its claim against you, the owner is liable. If the owner successfully defends against the claim, the subcontractor takes nothing.

Putting judicial economy aside, it may not make economic sense for contractors to have a lawyer involved in litigating a case where they have no skin in the game. Fortunately, there is a better option than the three-party lawsuit on multi-party construction projects.

Ms. Cooksey may be contacted at


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