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.
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Snapshot of Strengths
From pre-project to close-out, our commercial construction transactional, negotiation and litigation experience includes:
Miller Act claims
Contract drafting and review
Architectural and engineering design claims
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
- Successfully represented a major oil company in defense of a suit brought against the company for alleged damages caused by violation of riparian rights.
- Served as Alabama counsel to a national contractor during planning, bidding and construction of bridge over the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
- Served as lead counsel representing an institutional lender with more than $1 million in claims against a design professional and a foundation contractor arising from the construction of a commercial office complex.
- Served as lead counsel for a utilities subcontractor in a $1.2 million litigation and arbitration proceedings arising from the construction of a fiber optic cable line.
- Served as lead counsel for a regional medical center in defending a claim for additional compensation by the design professional arising out of the construction of an addition to the hospital.
- Successfully represented the owner of regional shopping mall in Mississippi sued by subcontractor asserting lien claims.
- Successfully represented a general contractor in a suit for delay damages arising from the construction of city-owned historical building.
- Successfully represented a shipyard and a contractor in claims arising out of the construction of two 16,000 ton chemical tankers owned by a Danish shipping company.
- Successfully represented a marine contractor in claims arising out of construction of a tug/barge unit.
- Successfully represented a general contractor sued by a municipality for alleged defects in construction of a sewer system and was joined by more than 100 residents of the municipality who alleged claims for personal injury and property damage.
- Successfully represented a curtain-wall subcontractor in claims against the general contractor arising out of the construction of 35-story office/hotel project.
What Our Clients are Saying
“My husband and I were referred to Johnstone Adams in the spring of last year. We are working very closely with Jessica Welch and Greg Watts on an ongoing and unwanted family estate matter. Ms. Welch and Mr. Watts have been so professional and knowledgeable.
In addition, considering the nature of the suit, Jessica has provided my husband and I with a peace of mind we didn"t think was possible during this extremely stressful time of our lives. She is an amazing trial attorney. They have gone above and beyond. To sum it up, I have nothing but the utmost respect and appreciation for them. I would strongly reccomend either of them to my dearest friends and family members. I'm so thankful that we stumbled upon them. I'm actually going to miss Jessica Welch when this is all over.”
“I am currently using this law firm and they are informative, keeping me up to date with my case, and they return your calls/emails immediately. I am very satisfied.”
“My wife and I approached Johnstone Adams to help us make a better informed decision regarding her immigration. They have been a truly invaluable asset. They brought their knowledge, experience, confidence, and calm demeanor to the process, which put our minds at ease. The worry and anxiety that we were facing melted away, and we have been, literally, hand-held during this daunting process. We can’t thank or recommend Johnstone Adams enough and look forward to continuing to use their services in the future.”
“Johnstone Adams was a great help when it came to drawing up our family’s will and advanced directives prior to the birth of our first son. These are certainly things that no one wants to think about, but the process was easy. They were professional and knowledgeable, answering all of our questions along the way with compassion and sensitivity. Johnstone Adams responded quickly to any questions and was easy to get in touch with! We would highly recommend them for any legal work!!”
“Jessica’s advice and assistance with our family's interests in a probate matter was exceptional from beginning to end-- always thoughtful, responsive and efficient, and focused and timely.
It was a genuine pleasure for the doubtless incorrigibly demanding old lawyer that I am to have a professional of her outstanding caliber assisting me on this matter—both generally and in my role as executor in particular—in a jurisdiction unfamiliar to me and on a matter completely outside of my own experience and expertise.
I might also point out that she was really excellent in interfacing, always in a timely and solution-oriented manner, with other parties involved in our matter to help keep our initiatives on track—including attorneys dealing with the disposition of residential real estate and financial assets.
Jessica and her excellent assistant, Shelly Perrone, also offered and provided pragmatic and efficient solutions to logistical and execution issues made significantly more challenging than usual given the COVID-19 crisis and my own location far from Mobile-- in Paris, France.”
“I highly recommend attorney Rick La Trace. Aside from being professional, polite, and yet firm, Rick is a combination of knowledge, detail, and responsiveness. (In my opinion, there are very few professionals who have ALL three qualities. Rick is one of the very few.) What makes him stand apart from the rest, is that he takes the time to listen to his client's concerns (no matter how "trivial"). He educates client’s on how the law works, shares his opinions, including the pros and cons of each. We would definitely use Rick's services again, and highly recommend him for anyone who wants a lawyer that they can trust to thoroughly handle their case from start to finish, even down to the small details. You can tell from working with Rick that he's not just about getting paid for his services, but that he enjoys working through problems and finding creative solutions for his clients. Also, I highly recommend the Johnstone Adams, LLC systems and processes. Shelly and Cathy were on top of things. I give Rick and Johnstone Adams more than five stars.”