Practice Areas

Construction

Whether it’s assembling a lawsuit for defective work, building a contract between a general contractor and a subcontractor, or designing a construction claim to comply with the Miller Act, Johnstone Adams construction attorneys get the job done right.  Our comprehensive resources, including a stable of expert consultants, combined with our abundant experience in this arena has positioned us as one of the leading legal services providers for the construction industry in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and along the I-10 Gulf Coast corridor.

From pre-project to  close -out, our commercial construction experience includes liens, bonds, sureties, marine construction, contract drafting and review, contract disputes, architectural and engineering design claims, insured defense, financing, negotiation, arbitration and litigation, construction delays, liquidated damages, design defects, payment, submittals, change orders,  and retainage issues. 

Johnstone Adams construction clients include general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, developers, owners, design professionals, construction lenders, offshore builders, and ship builders. 

Snapshot of Strengths

From pre-project to close-out, our commercial construction transactional, negotiation and litigation experience includes:

Featured Client Stories

Fighting City Hall

Our client, a large commercial general contractor for whom we act as outside general counsel, was hired by a municipality in South Alabama to renovate the existing city hall building and to construct a new building adjacent to it. Design errors soon put the project behind schedule, and disputes arose between the city’s design professional and our client over responsibility for extra work and remedial work necessitated by the defective design documents. 

Johnstone Adams approach and solution: Our client’s reasonable attempts to compromise were ignored by the city and its design professional.  On behalf of our client, we retained an independent architect to review and interpret the construction documents so as to provide an opinion as to which party or parties was at fault and whether our client’s performance failed to comply with the drawings and specifications.  The city refused to consider the architect’s opinions, decided instead that not only would it withhold progress payments to our client but also demanded liquidated damages.  The project was half-finished and in peril.

Outcome: We counseled our client to continue working and see the job through; but, at the same time, we demanded arbitration and began building our client’s claim, which eventually grew to more than a million dollars.  With the assistance of the architect that reviewed the design documents, as well as a scheduling and delay expert, we were able to position the case so that, with an arbitration date looming, it would be settled on terms generous to our client.


First the Hurricanes, Then the Storm

The years 2004 and 2005 brought several hurricanes, most notably Ivan and Katrina.  The Gulf Coast was devastated.  Johnstone Adams handled many construction matters in the years that followed these storms.  We defended construction defect claims and also assisted our clients in rebuilding projects. 

One very interesting case involved the rebuilding of Naval Air Station Pensacola.  We represented a large mechanical contractor that was awarded an $8 million contract to provide mechanical and plumbing services in the construction of four new buildings.  The project was built by a national defense contractor with an $80 million contract with the U.S. Navy. 

The project was plagued with delays from the start that were not anyone’s fault.  For example, during excavation for one building, an antique ship was discovered buried on the site, which stalled construction for months while archaeologists and historians decided on the best method to preserve the ancient relic while at the same time moving the project forward.  There were other delays, however, that were the fault of one party or the other. 

Johnstone Adams approach and solution: Eventually, the project was completed.  The Navy was happy, but that feeling was not shared by anyone else involved.  Even though the general contractor was paid in full by the Navy, without any assessment of liquidated damages, the GC nevertheless withheld retainage from our client, as well as most of the other subcontractors, and assessed liquidated damages for delay on top of that.  Our client was owed about $1 million on its contract and was faced with a $2 million claim for liquidated damages.  After negotiations proved unfruitful, we filed suit under the federal Miller Act in a Florida federal court and were soon joined by eight other subcontractors and suppliers who had also not been fully paid. 

Outcome: After three years of litigation and several mediation proceedings, we settled our client’s claim for 90% of the amount it was owed and complete exculpation from liability for liquidated damages. 

Next Steps

Johnstone Adams’ construction attorneys know the industry from foundation to completion, including the intricacies and challenges surrounding lien litigation, defective construction and how to handle claims for liquidated damages.  Transactions, negotiations and litigation in this arena are often as complex as the entire building process.  Our responsive and experienced attorneys have the necessary depth and breadth to provide you with the quality legal services you need without the high price tag and sluggish response associated with large law firms.  Contact Johnstone Adams today to allow us to assist in resolving your construction issues.

Practice Group Attorneys

I. David Cherniak
Robert Jackson
Spencer Larche
Lawrence Seiter
Tiffany Smith
Tracy Turner