American Arbitration Association Amends Construction Industry Arbitration Rules

arbitrationAlternative dispute resolution clauses are common in construction contracts.  Often, these clauses require arbitration under the American Arbitration Association’s (“AAA”) Construction Industry Arbitration Rules (the “Construction Rules”).  It is, therefore, important for those in the industry to know that the Construction Rules have undergone significant revisions, which became effective on July 1, 2015.

The rule changes are intended to make arbitration more efficient and economical.  The following are some of the highlights: read more

When a Plan Doesn’t Come Together: Revisiting Arizona’s Adoption of the Spearin Doctrine

fleaning-tower_edited-1The A-Team was one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid.  As fans of the show know, Colonel Hannibal Smith’s signature line was, “I love it when a plan comes together.”  Unfortunately, as those in construction know, owner-furnished plans and specifications do not always “come together.”  In other words, they can be defective.  In these situations, a contractor’s mere adherence to the plans and specifications can lead to an unsatisfactory project outcome.  The Arizona Supreme Court first addressed this issue in Kubby v. Crescent Steel, 105 Ariz. 459, 466 P.2d 753 (1970), where it adopted what is commonly known as the Spearin Doctrine. read more

Mail Call: Court Rules that Little Miller Act Twenty-Day Notices Must Be Sent by Registered or Certified Mail

file000845666076***UPDATE – 7/15/2016*** 

The Court of Appeals’ decision in  in Cemex Construction Materials South, LLC v. Falcone Bros. & Assoc., Inc., 237 Ariz. 236 (App. 2015), which is the subject of this post from May 2015, will cease being good law on August 6, 2016. The case was legislatively overruled by HB 2268, which was signed into law by Governor Ducey on May 12, 2016 and will become effective on August 6, 2016.  My post on the effects of HB 2268 and its overruling of the Cemex decision can be found here. read more

Arizona Court of Appeals Addresses “Owner-Occupant” Lien Protection in Marco Crane & Rigging Co. v. Masaryk

DSC_2010It is well-established that the primary purpose of Arizona’s mechanics’ lien statutes is to protect laborers and materialmen by insuring payment of their accounts. United Metro Materials, Inc. v. Pena Blanca Properties, L.L.C., 197 Ariz. 479, 484, 4 P.3d 1022, 1027 (App. 2000).  But not all laborers and materialmen are protected under the statutes.

With regard to residential work involving “owner-occupants,” for instance, only contractors having a direct contract with the “owner-occupant” have lien rights.  This exception, of which subcontractors that perform residential work are hopefully aware, was the subject of the recent Court of Appeals decision in Marco Crane & Rigging Co. v. Masaryk, 236 Ariz. 448, 341 P.3d 490, (App. 2014).  Specifically, the court was asked to examine whether “owner-occupant” status was lost because an owner transferred title to her home to her limited liability company after the subcontractor’s lien was recorded and a foreclosure lawsuit filed. read more

The Rare Cardinal Change

file0001201427690 A “cardinal change” has nothing to do with the football team, the baseball team, or, for that matter, the bird.  It is, instead, an important legal concept for contractors to understand.  Where applicable, the cardinal change doctrine puts limits on the amount of changed work or extra work that can be ordered under the changes clause of a construction contract.  I recently dealt with the doctrine in connection with my practice.   Here are the basics.

Cardinal Changes Defined. read more