Articles Posted in Construction Law

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After a jury trial, Matthew Fox was convicted of first degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony. Fox appealed, asserting that the district court erred when it found him competent to stand trial and when it allowed him to absent himself from major portions of the trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err when it determined that Fox was competent to stand trial, and (2) the district court did not err when it found that Fox knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to be present at trial and allowed Fox to absent himself from trial. View "State v. Fox" on Justia Law

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Danny O'Neall was injured while working for Sadler Line Construction, a subcontractor of Alliance Construction. Sadler had commercial general liability (CGL) coverage with Federated Service Inusrance Company. In the underlying personal injury action, O'Neall sued Alliance and Sadler for negligence. In the instant action, Federated filed a declaratory judgment action against Alliance, alleging that it had no duty to defend or indemnify Alliance against O'Neall's personal injury action. The district court granted summary judgment for Federated. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the parties, by requiring Sadler to name Alliance as an additional insured on its CGL policy, intended that Sadler would insure against loss caused by Alliance's negligence; and (2) Sadler's additional insured endorsement, which provided coverage for liability arising out of Sadler's operations, was broad enough to include coverage for Alliance's negligence even if Sadler was not negligent. Remanded. View "Federated Serv. Ins. Co. v. Alliance Constr." on Justia Law

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Ronald Bacon was injured while working at a construction site. Bacon sued the general contractor, the general contractor's commercial liability insurer, the subcontractor, and the parent company of the subcontractor. Bacon settled with the insurer, which together with the general contractor's separate liability insurer, made payments to Bacon pursuant to the settlement agreement. After Bacon settled with the subcontractor's parent company, the general contractor's two insurers filed a breach of contract action because Bacon received the proceeds of his second settlement but refused to make payment to the insurers under the terms of the first settlement agreement. The district court granted summary judgment for the insurers, finding Bacon, his lawyer, and the lawyer's law firm liable in the amount of $437,500. The Supreme Court reversed the district court's finding that lawyer and law firm were personally liable on the contract, holding that an attorney and/or law firm is not liable on a contract negotiated on behalf of a client when the contract provides that both the client and the attorney "agree to and will pay" a certain sum of money and the attorney signs the contract under the legend "Agreed to in Form & Substance". The Court otherwise affirmed. View "RSUI Indemnity Co. v. Bacon" on Justia Law

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McKinnis Roofing and Sheet Metal and homeowner Jeffrey Hicks entered into two contracts. The first contract related to Hicks' roof, and the second contract related to copper awnings on Hicks' residence. McKinnis filed a complaint in the district court alleging that Hicks breached both contracts after Hicks refused McKinnis' demand for advance payment. After trial, he district court determined that Hicks had breached both contracts, awarding McKinnis damages in the amount of $4,419 with regard to the roofing contract and $789 with regard to the awning contract. McKinnis appealed, arguing that the district court erred in calculating the amount of damages to which it was entitled. Hicks cross-appealed and claimed that the district court erred when it determined that he breached the contracts. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that based on the facts and contract language, Hicks did not breach either contract. View "McKinnis Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. v. Hicks" on Justia Law

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Chicago Lumber recorded a construction lien on JoAnn Selvera's home and sued to foreclose the lien. Selvera brought a counterclaim under Neb. Rev. Stat. 52-157, which provides a remedy against claimants who, in bad faith, file liens, overstate liens, or refuse to release liens. Chicago Lumber eventually withdrew its foreclosure action and released its lien, but Selvera maintained her suit. The district court granted summary judgment to Selvera, concluding that (1) because Selvera had not received a copy of Chicago Lumber's lien within ten days of its recording, the lien was invalid; and (2) Chicago Lumber's failure to dismiss its action and to release the lien before it received Selvera's documents clarifying that she had paid her debt in full constituted bad faith. The court awarded Selvera $10,000 in attorney fees. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Chicago Lumber had a reasonable belief that its lien was valid, at least before it received Selvera's clarifying documents, Chicago Lumber did not act in bad faith. The Court concluded that after Chicago Lumber received the clarifying documents, questions of fact existed whether Chicago Lumber was acting in bad faith. Remanded. View "Chicago Lumber Co. of Omaha v. Selvera" on Justia Law

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L.G. Barcus & Sons, Inc. (Barcus) was held liable to the Village of Hallam under the state One-Call Notification System Act (Act) for damage to Hallamâs sanitary sewer system. The Act established a one-call notification center so that excavators can learn of any underground facilities in the area where excavation is planned. The general contractor in this case complied with the Act. Acting under its contractorâs compliance, Barcus excavated on a private landownerâs property that ultimately ruptured Hallamâs sewer lines. Among the issues Barcus raised on appeal is whether the excavator can delegate its duties under the Act to another party to escape liability. The Supreme Court found that Barcus could not rely on anotherâs compliance to excuse its own noncompliance. The Court affirmed the judgment of the district court.