Construction

Steptoe & Johnson's Construction Team represents architects, engineers, and other design professionals, as well as owners, developers, builders and trade associations. The team's goal is to provide practical, cost-effective solutions to the individuals and firms that work in the construction industry, with an emphasis on the prevention of contractual problems.

Construction Team lawyers frequently work with and draw upon the knowledge of colleagues from the firm's practices in the areas of tax, project finance, environmental, real estate law, and in governmental agency relations. In addition, team lawyers have developed a noteworthy concentration in insurance defense as it relates to the construction industry. Legal services include:
 

  • Project formation and assessments
  • Contract drafting and review
  • Contract disputes and bid protests
  • Alternative dispute resolution / mediation and arbitration
  • Trial and appellate cases
  • Project delivery system analysis
  • Mechanics' liens
  • Project finance and bond counsel
  • Public service commissions and districts
  • Payment bond claims / surety bonds
  • Hazardous waste and environmental issues
  • Permitting Architectural copyright
  • Business formation
  • Government contracts and regulations
  • Legislation and lobbying
  • Product liability defense (heavy equipment and machinery)
  • Intellectual property
  • Occupational safety and health
  • Malpractice liability defense
  • Risk management
  • Workers' compensation

 

9 Team Members

We're all in this together

Know How

Whitepaper: West Virginia Court Considers an “Honest Mistake” in Wage Act Case
In Grim v. Eastern Electric, LLC, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, for the first time, examined application of the “honest mistake or error” defense, which is unique to West Virginia’s Prevailing Wage Act ("PWA"). 
Alert: West Virginia Court Considers an “Honest Mistake” in Wage Act Case
In Grim v. Eastern Electric, LLC, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals for the first time examined application of the “honest mistake or error” defense.
Alert: Residential Homeowner Can Recover Costs of Repairs Even If Greater Than Fair Market Value of House
Until recently, owners of damaged homes in West Virginia had some limits on the amount of damages they could recover in a lawsuit.  Now, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has significantly revised prior case law and expanded available damages in Brooks et al v. City of Huntington (No.
Alert: Virginia, Pennsylvania Take Action to Curb Misclassification of Employees
Government agencies, state and federal, are increasing their vigilance and enforcement of construction industry worker misclassification.
Alert: Rule Changes In Effect for Federal Contractors
The Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has issued a Final Rule changing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Alert: Subcontractors Beware - Ohio Supreme Court Upholds "Pay-If-Paid" Provisions
The Ohio Supreme Court recently changed the landscape in construction law when it held that a payment provision in a subcontract which included the term “condition precedent” was sufficient to transfer the risk of the owner’s non-payment from the general contractor to the subcontractor.  At issue was whether or not the general contractor Transtar could pass on to the subcontractor A.E.M. the risk of non-payment by the owner by including the following clause in the subcontract:       "Receipt of payment by contractor from the owner for work performed by subcontractor is a condition precedent to payment by contractor to subcontractor for that work. (emphasis added).
Whitepaper: Pennsylvania Court Determines if Union Trustees Have Standing to File Mechanic’s Lien
Pennsylvania, like many states, has a mechanic’s lien statute to ensure that contractors and subcontractors who make improvement to property will be paid for the labor and materials they furnish in the erection, construction, alteration or repair of property.  It accomplishes this by affording them the right to record a lien against the improvement, be it a building, structure or other improvement. 
Webinar: July 2013 Webcast Presentation - Has the World Changed or Do I Just Need New Glasses? Adjusting Poor Workmanship Claims After Cherrington
On June 18, 2013, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals issued a decision that changed the law on CGL coverage for construction defect claims. This webcast will detail what impact this new rule will have on your claims handling of construction defect claims.In this webcast, Eric Hulett and Michelle Piziak will discuss:• Impact of the new Cherrington decision on construction defect   claims• Insured-Contractor “standing alone” construction defect claims• Subcontractor construction defect claims under the insured  general contractor’s CGL policy• Completed operations• Renewed Importance of exclusions
Webinar: July 2013 Webcast Recording - Has the World Changed or Do I Just Need New Glasses? Adjusting Poor Workmanship Claims After Cherrington
Click here to view the webcast recording. On June 18, 2013, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals issued a decision that changed the law on CGL coverage for construction defect claims. This webcast will detail what impact this new rule will have on your claims handling of construction defect claims.In this webcast, Eric Hulett and Michelle Piziak will discuss:• Impact of the new Cherrington decision on construction defect   claims• Insured-Contractor “standing alone” construction defect claims• Subcontractor construction defect claims under the insured  general contractor’s CGL policy• Completed operations• Renewed Importance of exclusions
Alert: New W.Va. Case Law Changes CGL Coverage for Construction Defect Claims
In Cherrington v. The Pinnacle Group, Inc., et al., the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, changed the law governing CGL coverage for construction defect claims.  Previous West Virginia case law had been rather conservative.  The new law announced by the Court pushes West Virginia into alignment with the majority of jurisdictions and shifts the focus away from the business-risk principles for analyzing construction defect coverage claims towards greater importance of the exclusions in the policy.  
Alert: Notice of Right to Cure Downloadable Form
Print this form and use when constructing new dwellings or renovatng and rehabilitating existing ones.
Alert: Court Decision Approves Arbitration Provisions for Home Builders
Thanks to a recent Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia decision, residential builders received an early Christmas gift in the form of approval of arbitration provisions in their “form” contracts with residential home purchasers. The home purchasers argued that the arbitration provision was too one-sided and that no separate consideration was paid for it. This argument, used for many years by residential home purchasers suing builders to attempt to escape arbitration, has been put to rest.
Alert: OSHA Analyzing Silica Exposure at Drilling Sites
OSHA and NIOSH issued a hazard alert in June 2012 entitled "Worker Exposure to Silica During Hydraulic Fracturing" due to the agencies' concern over sand used in the "fracing" process, but stopped short of issuing a new regulation.The OSHA/NIOSH alert can be viewed at www.osha.gov/dts/hazardalerts/hydraulic_frac_hazard_alert.html.OSHA describes fracing as a process used to stimulate well production in order to extract oil and gas deposits.  The process involves 3 steps: The well is drilled, Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the well causing fissures in the shale, Sand flows into the fissures so that the oil and gas from the shale can flow up and out of the well. OSHA advises that possible workplace measures might reduce silica exposure by:
Alert: To Pay or Not To Pay
The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals recently sent lending institutions a stern warning when disbursing funds related to a construction loan. When completing duties such as inspections before disbursing construction loan funds to a builder, the Court said flatly that banks will not be able to use common exculpatory language in loan documents that routine progress inspections are solely for the benefit of the lender as a shield from suit by an unsatisfied borrower.In White v. AAMG Construction Lending Center, et al., No.
Alert: Bidders Beware
Bidders Beware: State Supreme Court Decision Puts Spotlight on Time Standards and Other Guidelines The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals' recent decision in State ex rel. Maple Creative, LLC v. Tincher, No.35504 (W. Va. June 18, 2010) will be of particular interest to contractors seeking work on state government projects. The case involved a bid by an in-state advertising agency, Maple Creative, LLC for advertising work with the West Virginia Division of Tourism. As a West Virginia company, Maple Creative was entitled to certain preferences in the bid process.
Alert: Forming Subdivisions Requires Careful Consideration
Establishing A Subdivision Requires Careful Consideration Recently, the WV Supreme Court decided Foster v. Orchard Dev. Co., LLC, involving the applicability and meaning of certain restrictive covenants and design guidelines affecting The Gallery subdivision in Martinsburg.The case focused on two main issues: Whether covenants and design guidelines adopted by the developer are separate and distinct documents or are part of the same documents that govern construction within the subdivision, and Whether the covenants and design guidelines allowed the developer to unilaterally reduce the size (minimum square footage requirements) of the residences to be built in the subdivision In this case:
Alert: The Marcellus Shale: The Real Deal for the Construction Industry?
The Marcellus Shale: Is it the Real Deal for the Construction Industry?From Williamsport to Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, through the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia and continuing to Charleston, the area's rural roads and one realizes that a mini industrial revolution is occurring throughout our tri-state region. Small town hotels and restaurants are overflowing with the commerce that has come with the Marcellus Shale activity. But what does this activity mean for the construction industry? While the activity is easy to observe, until recently, the actual economic impacts have not been quantified.
Alert: The WV Fairness in Competitive Bidding Act
The West Virginia Fairness In Competitive Bidding Act (the "Act") found in Chapter 5 Article 22 of the WV Code details certain requirements that must be adhered to with respect to the solicitation and selection of contractors for certain public improvements. The bid solicitation must be written, designate a time and place for bid opening and the actual bid opening may not be a US Postal Service holiday. The bids must be read aloud and open for public inspection. While the Act details the minimum requirements, the owner may and usually does have additional requirements.
Alert: Green Building Jobs on the Rise
According to a recent McGraw-Hill Construction study, 35% of architects, engineers, and contractors report having green jobs today, representing 661,000 jobs and one-third of the industry workforce. That share is expected to increase over the next three years, with 45% of all design and construction jobs being green by 2014.This study is the first to focus exclusively on design and construction professionals and trades workers. ?Green jobs? are defined as those involving more than 50% of work on green projects or designing and installing uniquely green systems.The research also shows that:
Alert: Study: Some LEED Requirements Could Pose Risks to Construction Workers
A study by the Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering Department at the University of Colorado Boulder (UCB) has found that some of the requirements for LEED building certification may pose heightened risks to the safety of construction workers. The UCB analysis began after a study by the U.S. Green Building Council found a near fifty percent injury rate in LEED-certified projects over traditional construction. The UCB team sought to break down the study credit by credit to find the ones that could cause greatest harm. The study identified fourteen LEED credentials that may increase risk. They include:
Alert: The Mountain State is Going Green
The Mountain State will likely be going green in the very near future. On March 10, 2012, the West Virginia Legislature passed Senate Bill No. 76, known as the "Green Buildings Act" which requires new public facilities to be designed and constructed in compliance with the International Energy Conservation Code and the ANSI / ASHREA / IESNA Standard 90.1 - 2007. The bill is currently awaiting Governor Tomblin's approval.
Alert: Are You a Government Contractor?
Contractors Can Challenge Poor Performance Evaluation By The Government What can a contractor do when faced with a poor performance evaluation that is inaccurate, unfair, or did not conform to proper procedures?  
Alert: New Ohio Rules Affect Well Construction
May was a busy month for lawmakers in Ohio. Last month, a legislative panel approved new rules for the construction drilling wells in the state, and the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 315 aimed at regulating oil and gas companies. The new regulations come as more and more energy producers migrate to Ohio looking to tap energy reserves in the Utica shale.
Alert: OSHA's West Virginia "No-Notice" Campaign: What You Need to Know
According to media reports, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is launching what it calls a "no-notice" campaign in West Virginia this summer. OSHA indicated that this campaign is designed to reduce construction injuries and deaths.
Alert: Mining, Construction Industries Could be Affected By WV Fire Commission Rules
On July 25, 2012 the West Virginia State Fire Commission issued a Notice of Public Hearing on a Proposed Rule to amend the State Building Code which was originally adopted in July 2010. One public comment period ended on May 4, 2012, and the final written comment period will end on August 24, 2012. Here?s what you need to know, and how the proposed amendments may affect your business:

Representative Experience

  • Represented construction client in collection matters pursuant to the Pennsylvania Contractor and Sub-contractor Payment Act, bond claims, and mechanic’s lien proceedings
  • Represented contractors and developers in matters involving construction defect allegations, mechanics' liens, payment claims, and liability for delay
  • Defended contractor in suit regarding construction delays
  • Served as co-counsel in construction litigation regarding negligence, fraud and poor workmanship
  • Trial for subcontractor for highway project boring/piping failure
  • Federal court trial for a construction company disputing the validity of a collective bargaining agreement with a local trade union and asserting fraud by the union
  • Represented a contractor in federal court regarding setting aside an agreement that required the contractor to use union bricklayers for all its jobs
  • Defended owners, design professionals and engineers in a variety of construction-related matters ranging from small business and commercial sites to multi-million dollar industrial plants and facilities
  • Trial for defense of property management company regarding repair claims
  • Represented client in complicated construction defect and product design litigation
  • Defended a local businessman against a breach of contract claim and mechanics lien filed by construction contractor and prosecuted multiple counterclaims involving faulty workmanship and property damage resulting from the same.
  • Multiple arbitration defenses of builders against construction defect claims
  • Litigated construction issues involving helical support systems and other various foundational systems
  • Negotiated settlements in multi-million dollar cases involving wrongful death, product defect, professional malpractice, and construction defect claims
  • Defended a ruling issued by a county building code appeals board regarding permitting requirements for certain storage structures
  • Drafted and negotiated custom construction agreements for commercial projects including shopping center, resort hotel, national scouting reserve and professional office buildings
  • Defended surety bond claims
  • Represented owners of newly built hotel in litigation and arbitration with general contractor over poor workmanship and breach of contract
  • Represented civil engineering/architectural firm in significant construction litigation involving defective soil compaction at large warehouse
  • Prepared construction defect and faulty workmanship coverage opinions for multiple insurers involving various construction defects
  • Litigated an action for a large multi-national pharmaceutical company to recover for the faulty design, construction and installation of a $4.3 million wastewater treatment plant
  • Defended a preliminary injunction action brought by an unsuccessful bidder on a $30 million construction project for a state university

100

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC is a U.S. energy firm with core strengths in labor & employment, litigation and transactional law. In 2013, Steptoe & Johnson celebrated 100 years of helping clients reach their goals.

 

Did you know?

Leaders in our Field

Steptoe & Johnson was the first firm to successfully secure regulatory approval for a multi-lateral Utica shale well.

Leaders in our Field

22 of us are ranked as “Leaders in their Field” by Chambers USA.

10.5 Years

equals the average tenure of our client relationship. We'd like to be in it for the long haul with you too.

Face-to-Face Client Interviews

25+ face-to-face client interviews are conducted every year by our CEO and firm management to learn how we can do better (so please give us an earful).

15 Offices Throughout the U.S.

15 offices throughout Colorado, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia.

One Firm

Ours is a client-of-the-firm culture, service model and compensation system that matches the best talent to the assignment and puts your economic interest ahead of ours.