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News & Events


Ohio Appellate Court Calls Into Question Long-Standing Law Regarding Insurance Coverage For Construction Defects
Posted on March 30, 2017

Nearly two years ago, this blog discussed the applicability of insurance coverage in the context of construction defect claims, in light of a decision from the Delaware Superior Court of New Castle County in Westfield Insurance Co. Inc. v. Miranda & Hardt Contracting and

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Concealed Carry Law Changes Impact Employer Policies
Posted on March 01, 2017

With Governor Kasich’s signature on December 19, 2016, a bill expanding Ohio citizens’ right to carry concealed firearms became law. Most notably, S.B. 199 will lift the current ban on carrying concealed weapons on college campuses, day cares and public areas of airports.  T

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A Deal Is A Deal – Federal Court Of Appeals Rejects Plaintiff’s Case Of Buyer’s Remorse
Posted on December 15, 2016

What constitutes a binding agreement to settle a lawsuit? Seems like a simple enough question to answer. Most people would say an agreement, reduced to writing, should be sufficient to dispel any dispute as to whether an enforceable settlement exists. But what if the agreeme

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New Overtime Rule Suspended – Federal Court says the DOL Went Too Far
Posted on November 28, 2016

On November 22, 2016, a federal district judge in Texas issued an order suspending implementation of the U.S. Department of Labor’s new rule that would have required employers to pay any salaried white collar employee who makes less than $47,892 per year overtime, regardless

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Landowners Prevail Against Utopia: Private Property Rights Upheld
Posted on October 17, 2016

In July, this blog discussed the Ohio Fifth District Court of Appeals’ ruling in Kinder Morgan Cochin, LLC v. Simonson, 2016 Ohio 4647 (5th Dist.), that petroleum giant Kinder Morgan Cochin, LLC, has a legal right to enter private property over the landowner’s objection to c

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Beware of Cats with Sharp Claws
Posted on September 07, 2016

Last week, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Vasquez v. Empress Ambulance Service, Inc. that the “Cat’s Paw” theory renders employers liable when a low-level employee dupes them into retaliating against another employee who complained of discrimination.  What

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Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Rules In City Of Cleveland’s Favor On Residency Lawsuit
Posted on August 31, 2016

Recently, this blog has been tracking developments in the enactment of House Bill 180 (“Bill”) – which prohibits local governments from imposing residency requirements on contractors, or giving preference to contractors that employ a certain number or percentage of local lab

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Cleveland Challenges Law Striking Down Residency Requirement
Posted on August 29, 2016

Last month, this blog discussed Ohio Governor John Kasich’s approval of House Bill 180, a law prohibiting local governments from imposing residency requirements on contractors and design professionals, or giving preference to contractors that employ a certain number or perce

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Ohio Appeals Court Determines Contractor’s Failure To Follow Contract’s Procedural Requirements Waived Right To Pursue Payment Claim
Posted on August 09, 2016

This blog has discussed Ohio’s Fairness in Contracting Act (“Act”), in the context of its prohibition on out-of-state forum selection clauses in construction contracts. There are, however, a number of other important provisions of the Act that are frequently implicated when

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Don’t Bet the Farm on Utopia
Posted on July 07, 2016

Landowners took a hit last week from Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals, who ruled that petroleum giant Kinder Morgan Cochin, LLC, has a legal right to enter private property over the landowner’s objection to conduct surveys for its Utopia pipeline project. For those wit

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New State Law Disallows Local Government Hiring Preference
Posted on July 06, 2016

Last month, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed into law House Bill 180, a law prohibiting local governments from imposing residency requirements on contractors and design professionals. Many Ohio municipalities, including Cleveland and Akron, have passed laws requiring contrac

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Ohio Appellate Court Determines Breach Of Contract Does Not Equal Prompt Payment Act Violation
Posted on June 21, 2016

This blog has discussed Ohio’s Prompt Pay Act (“PPA”) and the protections it provides to subcontractors’ and materialmens’ right to be paid for their work before on several occasions. What has never been addressed, by this blog or any court as far as we can tell, is what hap

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Another Blow for Freedom from California
Posted on May 13, 2016

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently ruled that there is no constitutional right to carry a concealed firearm in America.  Since there is no right to carry, a law that prevents one from doing so is perfectly fine against the 2d Amendment said the Court.  Thankfully

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Contractors Be Wary – Update On Criminal And Personal Liability Cases
Posted on May 12, 2016

In the case of Sutter v. Henkle, Mercer County App. No. 10-15-14, the court of appeals upheld an oral change order in the form of a settlement agreement and found that a contractor personally bound himself to the settlement agreement.  The project at issue involved the const

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Just What We Need – Another Federal Law. Or Does The Defend Trade Secrets Act Of 2016 Actually Make Businesses Stronger?
Posted on May 05, 2016

Those who read my blogs know I’m no fan of the federal government messing with people who run businesses. A few days ago, Congress passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 and Obama says he will sign it – so apparently they can agree on something.  The law itself is nothi

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Antitrust: Uber’s Uber-Dangerous Legal Threat
Posted on April 26, 2016

Most people are aware that ride-sharing giant Uber Technologies, Inc. is one of the world’s most successful companies formed in the last ten years, evidenced by Uber’s mind-boggling valuation that recently surpassed General Motors and Ford.  However, this success has not com

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Indiana Supreme Court Rules Unpaid Subcontractors Have Right To Attorneys’ Fees In Mechanic’s Lien Foreclosure Action
Posted on April 14, 2016

This blog has talked on a number of occasions about how mechanic’s liens and bond are some of the most important, and effective, tools that contractors, subcontractors, and materialmen have at their disposal to protect their right to payment for work performed or materials p

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Federal Court Of Appeals Sides With Union Against Employer On Fringe Benefits Case
Posted on April 11, 2016

Many contractors try to keep their workers employed during inclement weather months by having employees perform work not within their customary trade. For example, instead of laying off a mason, the contractor may have the mason work in the yard or drive truck at a lower wag

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The Apple-Samsung Patent War Heads to the Supreme Court
Posted on April 01, 2016

Already one of the fiercest and most significant patent cases of modern times, on March 21, 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court raised the stakes considerably when it agreed to hear Samsung’s appeal of rulings that Samsung infringed on Apple’s design patents for its iPhones. Making

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Shaky Shale – Trouble Ahead for Contractors?
Posted on March 31, 2016

With the price of crude oil remaining at record lows, the Akron Beacon Journal recently reported that the Ohio’s number one Utica driller, Chesapeake Energy Corp is halting new drilling in Ohio’s Utica Shale because of financial constraints. Although the company has no plans

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The Ohio Home Construction Service Suppliers Act Removes Much Home Construction From The Consumer Sales Practices Act, Imposes New Requirements On Homebuilders
Posted on March 22, 2016

Ohio consumers and homebuilders alike should be aware of an important Ohio law which took effect on August 31, 2012 – The Home Construction Service Suppliers Act (“HCSSA”), which is found at Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4722.  The HCSSA applies specifically to “home constructio

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Ohio Supreme Court Revisits Liquidated Damages Decision With Unexpected Result
Posted on March 03, 2016

Last year, this blog discussed a decision out of Ohio’s Fourth District Court of Appeals in Boone Coleman Construction v. Village of Piketon, 2014-Ohio-2377, discussing the topic of “Liquidated damages” – the predetermined amount of damages that parties designate during the

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Justice Scalia’s Passing Will Affect Several Significant Cases Pending Before The Supreme Court
Posted on February 25, 2016

Unless you have recently been living under a rock, you have probably heard about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely passing on February 13, 2015 and the impending political fight to replace him.  Justice Scalia had been the longest serving justice on the Su

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Massachusetts Appeals Court Holds That Homeowner’s Wavier of Building Code Violations Does Not Release Builder From Liability
Posted on February 17, 2016

Usually, when an individual learns that his homebuilder has made an error resulting in a violation of the building code, the natural reaction is to demand that the builder fix the problem and comply with the code. In a recent case of Downey, et al. v. Chutehall Construction

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Contractor’s Incomplete And Shoddy Work Results In Felony Conviction
Posted on February 11, 2016

Residential contractors know that if they breach a home contract that they can face liability in court for their actions. For example: A contractor that fully performs his work, but fails to comply with Ohio’s Home Solicitation Sales Act may be faced with forfeiting all cont

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It’s not the Crime It’s the Cover Up – Why You Don’t Hide Evidence
Posted on February 04, 2016

Most of the topics discussed on this blog are geared towards substantive areas of the law, but sometimes it’s the process that creates the biggest risk to businesses. Those who have had the experience of being sued know how onerous, expensive, and frustrating the discovery p

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Ohio Supreme Court Says the Division of Wildlife Can Seek a Record $27,851 in Restitution for Poached Huron County Deer
Posted on January 20, 2016

Normally we limit our blog to legal articles that directly impact business issues, but today we will talk about something different. Those who know us also know that we regularly support causes to advance stewardship of Ohio’s wildlife, because we care deeply about preservin

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New York Appeals Court Agrees With Ohio – Construction Disputes Belong In The State Where The Project Is Located
Posted on January 08, 2016

In August, in an article entitled, “Ohio Court Ruling Keeps Construction Disputes Where They Belong – In Ohio” this blog discussed the contract mechanism known as a forum selection clause, by which the parties to an agreement stipulate that any dispute arising under the cont

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You Can’t Always Get What You Want – Ohio Appeals Court Holds That Contractor Waived Right To Enforce Arbitration Clause
Posted on December 17, 2015

This blog has talked numerous times about the many facets of arbitration, including both its advantages and disadvantage, as well as how its value has changed over the last several years due to changes in the way that discovery, hearings and fees are handled.  Despite these

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Do You Think Claims for Defective Work are Covered by Your Insurance?
Posted on December 09, 2015

For contractors, defective work claims are an unfortunate fact of life, particularly when they are caused by a subcontractor’s bad work.  One of the first questions that may arise is whether the contractor’s commercial general liability (CGL) carrier has a duty to defend and

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Harpst Ross Sponsors Akron Public Schools Fundraiser
Posted on December 08, 2015

Harpst Ross is proud to sponsor Akron Public School’s fundraiser, “An Evening WIth Our Family” this Sunday, December 13, 2015, from 4-7 pm at the Portage Country Club in Akron. This is a family-friendly event to support a great cause.  Click the link below for additional inf

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Federal Court Of Appeals Determines That Holder Of Insurance Policy Entitled To “Same Or Nearly the Same” Terms Upon Renewal
Posted on November 25, 2015

This blog has discussed various issues related to insurance coverage in the context of the construction industry on numerous occasions, including, under what circumstances coverage is warranted, and, if coverage is warranted, at what time it is triggered under a policy.  Com

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Takes Peppercorn Doctrine With A Grain Of Salt
Posted on November 20, 2015

Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released its long-awaited decision in a case presenting the issue of whether a post-employment non-compete agreement for which the employer gave no actual consideration would still be enforced under Pennsylvania law.  Specifi

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Federal Appeals Court “Likes” Employees That Don’t “Like” Their Employer
Posted on October 22, 2015

On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a decision from the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) that a restaurant violated federal labor law when it fired two employees who “liked” and participated in a Facebook conversation started by anoth

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Pennsylvania Appellate Court Interprets Applicability Of Often-Misunderstood Economic Loss Doctrine
Posted on September 17, 2015

Of all the doctrines and theories that have developed in the law, both courts and attorneys alike have struggled for years with one which seems to baffle even the most experienced of them – the economic loss doctrine. In its simplest terms, the economic loss doctrine states

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Ohio Court Ruling Keeps Construction Disputes Where They Belong – In Ohio
Posted on August 25, 2015

In February, this blog discussed the contract mechanism known as a forum selection clause, by which the parties to an agreement stipulate that any dispute arising under the contract will be litigated in a specific jurisdiction or court. Although there are a multitude of reas

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Limits Applicability of Contractor and Subcontractor Payment Act
Posted on August 14, 2015

Several months ago, this blog discussed the provisions of Ohio’s Prompt Pay Act (“PPA”) and The Pennsylvania Contractor and Subcontractor Payment Act (“CSPA”), which are designed to provide protections to subcontractors’ and materialmens’ right to be paid for their work. Und

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More Anti-Business Rules from the US Department of Labor
Posted on August 05, 2015

Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division, led by Obama appointee Dr. David Weil, issued an “Administrator’s Interpretation” (#2015-1), notifying American businesses that anyone who uses independent contractors better beware. An Administrator’s Inte

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American Arbitration Association’s New Rules Governing Construction Disputes Go Into Effect
Posted on July 10, 2015

In February, this blog discussed American Arbitration Association’s (“AAA”) release of “Supplementary Rules for Fixed Time and Cost Construction Arbitration” for the resolution of construction disputes.  Those rules made substantial changes to the way in which construction d

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U.S. Department Of Labor Proposes Sweeping Change To Overtime Pay Rules
Posted on July 02, 2015

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”), proposed a change to federal overtime pay requirements that would increase the minimum salary a worker must earn to qualify for a “white collar” exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) from $23,660 per year to $5

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Pennsylvania Lawmakers Considering Bill To Expand Mechanic’s Lien Rights Of Design Professionals
Posted on June 11, 2015

Last week, this blog discussed the provisions of Ohio’s Prompt Pay Act (“PPA”) and Pennsylvania’s Contractor and Subcontractor Payment Act (“CSPA”), as well as new legislation, entitled House Bill 726 (“HB 726”), that would further bolster the benefit provided to contractors

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Pennsylvania Lawmakers Seek To Further Strengthen Payment Protections For Contractors And Subcontractors
Posted on June 02, 2015

Several months ago, this blog discussed the provisions of Ohio’s Prompt Pay Act (“PPA”) and the protections that it offers subcontractors and materialmen’s right to be paid.  The PPA requires that subcontractors and materialmen be paid within ten calendar days of the contrac

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What’s The Difference Between A Statute Of Limitations And Statute Of Repose
Posted on May 27, 2015

The construction industry is unique in that its members provide products and/or services which are, by their very nature, intended to last a long time – years, decades or more.  Because of this, contractors and design professionals inherently have greater exposure to claims

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Indiana’s Highest Court Enforces AIA Subrogation Waiver To Bar Owner’s Claims Against Contractor For Damages Covered By Insurance
Posted on May 14, 2015

Subrogation waivers are an integral part of construction contracting and project risk management.  When an insurance company pays a claim, they acquire the rights of their policyholder to sue the person or entity they believe was at fault for causing the loss and to recover

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What Is Indemnity And What Does It Mean?
Posted on May 08, 2015

“Indemnity” is the legal obligation of a person or entity, the indemnitor, to provide compensation for a specific loss suffered by another person, the indemnitee.  The right of indemnity may result from an express agreement or contractual provision, or from an implied contra

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Illinois Case Demonstrates Circumstances Under Which A Contractor May Pierce The Corporate Veil
Posted on April 28, 2015

Every contractor, subcontractor, and material supplier has, at some time, found themselves owed money by an insolvent owner, contractor, or developer that is hiding behind the protective shield of corporate organization.  Generally, corporations and limited liability compani

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Sweeping Changes To Ohio’s Receivership Statute Are Now In Effect
Posted on April 17, 2015

Late last month, House Bill 9, which enacted the first changes to Ohio’s receivership statute in six decades, took effect. Receivership is a legal process by which a “receiver” is appointed by a court of a receiver to take custody of the property, business, rents and profits

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Federal Court of Appeals Determines Insurance Company Required to Provide Defense for Construction Defect Claims
Posted on April 09, 2015

Last week, this blog discussed a recent opinion issued by the Delaware Superior Court of New Castle County in Westfield Insurance Co. Inc. v. Miranda & Hardt Contracting and Building Services LLC, N14C-06-214, in which the Court determined that defective workmanship in t

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Delaware Court Determines Insurance Company Not Required To Cover Construction Defect Claim
Posted on April 02, 2015

One of the first questions that always arises when the owner of a building that has been improperly constructed is faced with such a defect: Will my insurance cover this?  The recent decision from Delaware Superior Court of New Castle County in Westfield Insurance Co. Inc. v

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Harpst Ross To Present At 2015 North East Ohio Regional Estimating Academy
Posted on March 25, 2015

On April 2, 2015, Harpst Ross will be making a presentation at the 2015 North East Ohio Regional Estimating Academy, which is being held at Corporate College East, 4400 Richmond Road, Warrensville Hts., Ohio 44128.  Topics that will be addressed by Harpst Ross and other pres

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The Legal Basics of Construction Bond Claims Under Ohio Law
Posted on March 19, 2015

Last week, this blog discussed one of the most important, and effective, tools that contractors, subcontractors, and materialmen have at their disposal to protect their right to payment – the mechanic’s lien.  Right behind the mechanic’s lien in importance, however, is the b

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Ohio Court of Appeals Issues Contractor-Friendly Decision Regarding the Scope of Mechanic’s Liens
Posted on March 10, 2015

One of the most important, and effective, tools that contractors, subcontractors, and materialmen have at their disposal to protect their right to payment for work performed or materials provided is the mechanic’s lien.  Ohio’s mechanics’ lien law, codified at sections 1311.

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Wait, I Have to Sue Where?
Posted on February 23, 2015

A forum selection clause is a provision in a contract wherein the parties agree that any dispute arising under the contact will be litigation in a specific jurisdiction or court.  A choice of law provision is one in which the parties agree that any legal dispute will be gove

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To Arbitrate or Not to Arbitrate – That is the Question
Posted on February 17, 2015

Nearly every construction contract these days contains a provision requiring the parties to submit all disputes arising under or related to the agreement to arbitration.  Arbitration was once viewed as the better alternative to litigation for resolving construction disputes

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Harpst Ross, Ltd. Victory in Pro-Business Court Decision Limits Business Liability Under Ohio Consumer Protection Law
Posted on February 12, 2015

On Tuesday, this Blog briefly discussed the recently released decision of Ohio’s 9th District Court of Appeals in reversing a judgment issued against KNL premised upon a disputed interpretation of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (“CSPA”).  Due to the collaborative effo

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Harpst Ross, Ltd. Helps Local Contractor Win Hard-Fought Victory in Pro-Business Court Decision
Posted on February 10, 2015

Last Friday, Ohio’s 9th District Court of Appeals released a decision in favor of local homebuilder KNL Custom Homes, Inc. (“KNL”), one which in effect benefits all businesses operating in this State, by reversing a judgment against KNL premised upon a disputed interpretatio

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What Every Contractor Needs to Know About Ohio’s Prompt Payment Act
Posted on February 09, 2015

Every contractor, subcontractor, and material supplier in the State of Ohio has at least some knowledge of the Prompt Pay Act (“Act”), often just enough to get themselves into trouble.  The Act, codified in section 4113.61 of the Revised Code, establishes clear deadlines wit

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Feeling Lucky? Roll the Dice With Your Liquidated Damages Clause
Posted on February 06, 2015

“Liquidated damages” are a predetermined amount of damages that parties designate during the negotiation of a contract, and which for an aggrieved party is entitled to collect as compensation for specific breach of the agreement.  For example, a commercial building contract

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Change Is Inevitable – So Get It In Writing
Posted on February 02, 2015

Regardless of scope and complexity, it is inevitable that the need to make a change to some aspect of a construction project – whether it be to the design, specifications, or schedule – is going to arise.  Generally speaking, a design professional (architect, engineer, etc.)

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