Construction & Design

For over 85 years, the Construction & Design Practice Group has worked with all sectors of the development, design, construction, insurance and real estate industries. Hall & Evans attorneys try lawsuits for owners, design professionals and contractors; negotiate design and construction contracts; resolve disputes involving workmanship, delay and payment issues; analyze and assert coverage positions; handle product and general liability claims with injuries and property damage; defend malpractice claims against architects and engineers; work out mechanic’s lien, collection and title disputes; and, assist on surety and bonding issues.

We serve as regional and panel counsel for leading design professionals, contractors and insurers, and we routinely handle matters throughout Colorado, and also in Wyoming, Montana, Utah and other jurisdictions.

We resolve disputes arising from all sizes of commercial, residential and public projects. We have developed special expertise defending multi-party design and construction defect lawsuits, and we have all the resources necessary to handle and try complex, technical cases with significant alleged damages.

Our attorneys are regularly invited to share their construction law expertise as authors and speakers at national legal and industry events, and we have testified before the Colorado General Assembly. In 2010, we published a comprehensive reference book for our clients, “Colorado Construction Litigation and Coverage.” We are leaders in the ALFA International Construction Law Practice Group, a network of best-in-class construction attorneys sharing contacts with industry clients and experts worldwide.

The experiences of our Group include the practice of architecture and service as neutral arbitrators, in addition to being advocates in trials, arbitrations and appeals. Complementing the Construction & Design Practice Group is our Real Estate Litigation Group, handling transactional and litigated property matters.

The following are brief descriptions of notable design and construction cases we have recently handled:

 

  • We defended a national process design firm in a three-week arbitration arising from the construction of a $70 million ethanol plant in Arizona. The plant’s owner and general contractor asserted negligence and contract claims for delays, cost overruns and lost revenue. The technical disputes involved chemical and mechanical engineering, water quality, distillation and the handling of natural resources and manufacturing byproducts. Each side retained multiple scientific and economic experts, and the claimant’s damages were alleged to be over $62 million. After arbitration, the matter settled on a favorable, confidential basis before an award was issued.
  • We defended a leading geotechnical design/build firm on a project involving a high-wall stabilization system at a strip mine in New Mexico. The wall experienced sloughing and drainage problems that threatened to shut down the mine due to safety concerns. Damages were alleged to exceed $20 million in repair costs and business interruptions. After months of difficult negotiations, we achieved a creative settlement in which the prime contractor hired our client to perform repairs and enhance the original design. Our client’s insurer paid a portion of the costs, our client donated some of its work at cost, and the foreign mine owner paid for the betterment work, plus profit.
  • We defended a national civil engineering firm in a case involving catastrophic injuries to a young man and his 2-year old son when an oncoming vehicle jumped a median and landed on their vehicle. plaintiffs alleged that the median design caused a dangerous condition, with damages estimated to exceed $10 million due to permanent quadriplegia and other disabilities. We filed a comprehensive motion for summary judgment and won dismissal of the claims against our client based upon the statute of repose.
  • We defended a national civil engineering firm in a complex arbitration arising out of the design and construction of a traffic tunnel near the Wolf Creek ski area. Our client and its subconsultants provided design, product specification and construction administration services over several years. The prime contractor commenced arbitration proceedings against the owner and asserted damages of over $18 million from delays, additional work and liquidated damages. After a $6+ million verdict against the owner, we settled pass-through claims and then pursued the subconsultants for indemnity, recovering over 85% of the settlement payment.
  • We defended a global design firm in a lawsuit involving a general contractor’s claim for compensation on a highway bridge project. The general contractor accused our client of fraud and for failing to warn it of another firm’s project design errors. We obtained summary judgment based upon a first-of-its kind application of the economic loss rule. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment in a 54-page order, finding that, 1) the economic loss rule barred fraud claims arising out of our client’s alleged intentional failure to perform; and, 2) our client, in reviewing another firm’s plans and specifications, did not owe a duty of care to warn prospective bidders of errors.
  • Hall & Evans Montana attorneys defended a national civil engineering firm in a jury trial involving allegedly negligent highway design. A pregnant woman was severely injured in a chain-reaction accident with a commercial truck. The truck driver claimed that our client’s design of the temporary construction zone was dangerous due to sight obstacles. The injured woman gave birth to a premature baby with accident-induced brain injuries. The woman settled with the trucking company for over $1 million. After substituting into the case less than six months before trial, we obtained a complete defense verdict, affirmed by the Montana Supreme Court, and cutting off future design-based claims based upon collateral estoppel.
  • We defended a global mine engineering firm that was sued by over 100 plaintiffs after a nationally-publicized coal mine collapse in 2007. Fifteen miners and rescue workers were killed or severely injured. As the matter progressed, our assignment expanded to include responding to national media inquiries, cooperating with state and federal agencies’ investigations, handling requests to appear before the U.S. House and Senate, and providing complex settlement and coverage advice. Through this difficult and high-profile matter, we kept our client’s interests at the forefront and settled on a favorable basis shortly after the lawsuits were filed, and well before the expenditure of significant attorneys’ fees and costs. We obtained a full release for our client, cutting off future subrogation and property damage claims by others.

Sample Design & Construction Industry Clients:

  • David Evans and Associates, Inc.
  • G.H. Phipps Construction Companies
  • Jacobs Engineering Group
  • MYR Group Inc.
  • Parsons Corporation
  • Rental Service Company, Inc.
  • Tetra Tech, Inc.
  • Western States Reclamation, Inc.

Sample Insurers and Sureties:

  • AIG
  • Beazley Insurance Company, Inc.
  • Hiscox USA
  • Lexington Insurance Company
  • Markel Corporation
  • RLI Corp.
  • The Travelers Indemnity Company
  • XL Insurance
  • ALFA International – Construction Law Practice Group
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • American Arbitration Association, National Panel of Construction Arbitrators
  • Association of General Contractors (AGC)
  • American Bar Association – Forum on the Construction Industry
  • Colorado Bar Association – Construction Law Section
  • Defense Research Institute (DRI)
  • Professional Liability Defense Federation
  • Colorado Defense Lawyers Association