Acceptance and Intervening Cause Avoided Construction Warranty Claim

Like cars, computers, and appliances, construction projects include warranties too.  Similarly, construction project warranties are limited to causes within the contractor’s control for damages to which the Government or owner has not contributed.

To show a breach of construction warranty, the Government must prove:

  1. Contractor was responsible for the defective materials or workmanship at issue;
  2. Government provided timely and proper notice to Contractor; and
  3. Government did not cause or contribute to the defect(s) or damage(s).

On a $137 million contract for renovation of 22-story historic art deco building located in Boston, Massachusetts, the Contractor installed ball valves of a type different than specified.  The Government accepted the Contractor’s installation.  Thereafter, an IT services provider unrelated to the Contractor inadvertently bumped/opened one of the water valves enough not to be immediately noticed.  But, it was enough to slowly cause nearly $1 million-worth of damage to the building.

The Government failed to prove it did not cause or contribute to the damage since its own IT provider (unrelated to the Contractor) had inadvertently opened the valve.

Notably, the specified valve was a type that required a thumbscrew to open, but the installed/accepted valve was a lever type, which is much easier to inadvertently open.

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Suffolk Construction Company, Inc. v. General Services Administration, Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, Nos. 2953, 2954, 2955, 3596, 4175, 4377, and 5006 (December 19, 2019).

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