Editor's Notes

A dispute between two parties on a construction project can quickly involve three or more parties. These multi-party disputes generally involve common or interrelated factual questions. Ideally, all the parties should be brought together in a single forum; however, this frequently doesn’t happen. To what extent should rulings or findings in one forum be binding on other parties that did not participate in that proceeding?


A subcontractor filed a mechanic’s lien on the project owner’s property. The owner challenged the validity of the lien on the grounds no money was owed under the prime contract. A trial court found that when proper credits were applied, no money was owed. The Connecticut Supreme Court was asked whether that determination should be binding on the prime contractor, who was pursuing a separate action against the owner.


The second case in this issue addresses a procedural aspect of federal contract claims. Technical in nature, the situation arises frequently. A contractor’s claim for an equitable price adjustment under the contract was denied by the government contracting officer. Could the contractor sue the agency in the Court of Federal Claims without first submitting another claim to the contracting officer alleging breach of contract?


The third case involves a contractor’s submission of a proposed scope of work at a stated price schedule to a private project owner. The owner gave the contractor a check as a “down payment.” Was a contract formed, allowing the owner to reject any contractor requests for changed or additional work?




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