Tag Archives: St. Louis Construction law attorney

Can I Collect Attorney’s Fees in my Missouri Construction Dispute?

When I receive a phone call from a new potential client, the most common question that I get is:

“Can we collect attorney’s fees from the opposing party?”

The answer to this question is generally NO—unless, you have a contractual or statutory basis for collecting the same. In certain limited cases, the Courts may award fees on the basis of equity, but this exception is virtually non-existent from a practical standpoint.

Our law firm reviews and intakes a variety of different cases on an average day. Given our focus on construction litigation, we see cases involving issues arising on both residential and commercial construction projects, ranging from defective work claims to failure to pay claims to disputes arising from delay and timing issues to contractors or subcontractors disappearing with the money, among others.

Whether the potential client can recover attorney’s fees is incredibly important and can significantly change the leverage that the potential client has in the case because attorney’s fees can get very costly, depending on the case, and in some instances, the more complex cases can span a period of over several years, thus making the question of collecting attorney’s fees a critical piece of information.

We understand that it is also an important consideration for our potential clients to know their rights prior to getting involved in expensive construction litigation, and it is well-advised for all individuals to know their rights prior to undertaking an expensive construction project.

As noted above, the short answer is that Missouri does not allow for the recovery of attorney’s fees in construction disputes, except in a few select scenarios:

“Missouri follows the American rule which precludes recovery of attorney fees with these exceptions: (1) a statute or a contractual provision allows for their recovery; (2) the fees are incurred due to involvement in collateral litigation; or (3) equity demands it.” Marcomb v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co., 934 S.W.2d 17 (Mo. App. 1996).

Typically, parties to construction disputes are limited only to the first exception stated above: if a statute or contractual provision allows for the recovery of attorney’s fees. The collateral litigation exception involves a unique set of factual circumstances and, could conceivably be asserted if the stars align, but it is not commonly seen in construction litigation. The equitable exception is limited to very narrow circumstances, and Missouri courts are often reluctant to entertain utilizing such exception to allow recovery of fees because it would be such a drastic (or proactive) departure from the norm by the Court, which is not usually favored.

Accordingly, due to the fact that parties involved in construction litigation are typically limited to recovery of fees only if such recovery is provided for in the contract or pursuant to some applicable statute, this article will briefly discuss contracts and will go into a more in-depth discussion as to the governing statutory rights of parties involved in construction projects.

In order for a party to have a right to collect attorney’s fees based on a contract, there must be a provision in the contract specifically allowing for such recovery. Because construction contracts come in all shapes and sizes and can include innumerable provisions or language regarding the same, it is virtually impossible to cover every potential attorney’s fees provision that could exist in a contract.

One example includes a scenario where the contract allows for the recovery of fees “if the contractor retains counsel to collect on an outstanding balance that exists on the contract.” In this particular situation, the contractor can likely collect attorney’s fees if the contractor is successful in prosecuting a claim for collection of an outstanding balance. However, if the contractor is defending a claim in which the owner alleges defective work, then the contractor would not be able to recover attorney’s fees, even if the contractor is successful in defending the claim. As a sidebar, the contractor would be well-advised to have an experienced attorney craft a contractual provision that is broader and more encompassing to be able to collect attorney’s fees in the successful defense of a defective work claim.

The foregoing example poses a situation where the attorney’s fees provision is incredibly fact specific, and thus, it would be futile to try to cover the endless possibilities, speculating as to what the contractual language may be. However, there are some constants when analyzing recovery of attorney’s fees in construction disputes, and those arise from the applicable statutes.

Accordingly, the focus of this article is to explore various scenarios a contractor or owner may face where no applicable attorney’s fees provision is set forth in the contract governing the parties’ relationship. In an effort to do so, we will proceed with an analysis of a number of commonly seen scenarios involving construction projects.

We will start by looking at the statues (or Acts) that are the most applicable, when it comes to construction disputes, in an effort to provide preliminary information to the reader prior to undertaking the analysis.

1.     Missouri Prompt Payment Act (Public or Private)

As you may be able to gather from the name of the Act, the purpose of the Missouri Prompt Payment Act is to encourage prompt payment to those persons or entities providing work on a construction project.

The Missouri Public Prompt Payment Act is set forth under R.S.Mo. § 34.057 and requires payment to be made promptly and on a monthly basis, based on estimates provided by the contractor. R.S.Mo. § 34.057(1).

The Missouri Private Prompt Payment Act is set forth under R.S.Mo. § 431.180 and states: “[a]ll persons who enter into a contract for private design or construction work after August 28, 1995, shall make all scheduled payments pursuant to the terms of the contract.” R.S.Mo. § 431.180.1.

The Private Prompt Payment Act provides the remedy in the second paragraph, allowing for the recovery of actual damages, attorney’s fees, and 18% interest per annum on any outstanding balance:

“[a]ny person who has not been paid in accordance with subsection 1 of this section may bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction against a person who has failed to pay.  The court may in addition to any other award for damages, award interest at the rate of up to one and one-half percent per month from the date payment was due pursuant to the terms of the contract, and reasonable attorney fees, to the prevailing party.” R.S.Mo. § 431.180.2.

There are certain limitations to the Missouri Private Prompt Payment Act, however, and we usually attempt to convey to clients the notion that the Private Prompt Payment Act only applies in the commercial context as opposed to those projects involving consumers. However, from a technical standpoint, that would be inaccurate, as the statute specifically states: “The provisions of this section shall not apply to contracts for private construction work for the building, improvement, repair or remodeling of owner-occupied residential property of four units or less.” R.S.Mo. § 431.180.3.

 

2.     Missouri Merchandising Practices Act

The Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (“MMPA”) is set of statutes which aims at protecting consumers. Typically, we describe the MMPA to clients as the equivalent of the Federal Consumer Protection Act but at a state level. The goal of the MMPA is to prevent businesses and larger entities from taking advantage of consumers through the use of deceptive, fraudulent, or other unfair business practices.

The operative statutes of the MMPA are set forth under R.S.Mo. § 407.020 and R.S.Mo. § 407.025. Specifically, R.S.Mo. § 407.020 states:

The act, use or employment by any person of any deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, unfair practice or the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise in trade or commerce…is declared to be an unlawful practice.

R.S.Mo. § 407.025.1 creates a private cause of action for consumers:

Any person who purchases or leases merchandise primarily for personal, family or household purposes and thereby suffers an ascertainable loss of money or property, real or personal, as a result of the use or employment by another person of a method, act or practice declared unlawful by section 407.020, may bring a private civil action in either the circuit court of the county in which the seller or lessor resides or in which the transaction complained of took place, to recover actual damages.

The same statutory section also allows for recovery of punitive damages and attorney’s fees: “The court may, in its discretion, award punitive damages and may award to the prevailing party attorney’s fees, based on the amount of time reasonably expended, and may provide such equitable relief as it deems necessary or proper.” R.S.Mo. § 407.025.1.

The language in the statute gives the Court broad discretion in awarding attorney’s fees to the prevailing party. However, there is substantial case law discussing the purpose of the statute is to protect consumers, so it is incredibly difficult for an entity (or non-consumer) to obtain an award of attorney’s fees, even if the entity/non-consumer prevails.

Analysis of Common Construction Dispute Scenarios

Below consists of a discussion of various scenarios that are regularly observed in the construction context. While the analyses are not comprehensive, the purpose of this article is to examine whether legal authority exists to recover attorney’s fees in the examples provided. In all of the scenarios, the contract does not allow for the recovery of attorney’s fees, as we know from above, the contract would provide a basis for recovery. The idea behind excluding the right to recover fees in the hypothetical scenarios is to conduct an in-depth examination of the parties’ statutory rights to collect fees on construction projects.

Scenario 1: Contractor performs construction work on residential property and seeks payment of outstanding balance owed

Tommy owns a construction company, TM Construction, LLC (“TM Construction”). TM Construction provides interior construction services on both residential and commercial projects. On this specific project, TM Construction is working on Sarah Johnson’s personal residence to provide framing work, hanging drywall, and painting. TM Construction’s contract with Sarah requires her to make payment of half of the job up front and the remaining amount will be paid at the completion of the project. Payment is made at the beginning of the job as contemplated, and TM Construction completes the work on the project. TM Construction demands payment from Sarah, but she refuses to make payment. The contract does not include any provision for the recovery of attorney’s fees, can TM Construction collect attorney’s fees?

The short answer is no. The contract does not afford TM Construction rights to recover fees. Further, TM Construction does not have any statutory basis to do so because the Missouri Private Prompt Payment Act does not apply to owner-occupied residential property of four units or less. The Missouri Public Prompt Payment Act and the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act are wholly inapplicable to this situation.

Scenario 2: Contractor performs work on commercial building and seeks payment of outstanding balance owed

ABC Electrical, Inc. (“ABC Electrical”) is providing electrical rough-in work on a three-story office building owned by XYZ Developers, LLC (“XYZ Developers”). ABC Electrical performs the work and is paid according to the payment schedule set forth in the contract. The payment schedule is based on percentage of completion, which is supervised and monitored by an architect and the owner. The contract is silent as to collection of attorney’s fees.

Throughout the project, ABC Electrical is performing the work and the owner is making payment in accordance with the payment schedule set forth in the project. Once the Project is about 70% complete, the owner starts to withhold any further payment. ABC Electrical completes the job and the architect has no objection as to the work. ABC Electrical’s owner pleads with the owner of XYZ Developers, but XYZ Developers’ owner refuses to make the final payment.  Can ABC Electrical collect attorney’s fees?

The answer is that ABC Electrical has the right to collect attorney’s fees pursuant to the Missouri Private Prompt Payment Act. The party that prevails in the claim, ABC Electrical or XYZ Developers, will have the right to collect attorney’s fees. The award of attorney’s fees is at the discretion of the court, but typically the courts will award attorney’s fees if one of the parties is deemed to have prevailed.

Scenario 3: General Contractor hires Subcontractor who performs defective work on commercial project which General Contractor has to repair/replace

Exito Construction, Inc. (“Exito”) is a general contractor constructing a commercial building. S&S Exteriors, LLC (“S&S Exteriors”) is hired as a subcontractor to perform the masonry work on the building. The contract calls for monthly progress payments that correspond with the percentage of completion.  S&S Exteriors is more than halfway through with completion of the project when Exito notices and complains that the bricks are not being laid evenly and that the building is missing lintels that were specifically called for in the design and specifications. Exito withholds payment to S&S Exteriors until the issues with the masonry work are repaired. Exito has the right to withhold payment until the architect approves the work. S&S Exteriors refuses to make any repairs until payment is made.

After numerous exchanges of correspondence between counsel for the parties, Exito has no other option but to proceed with the hiring of another masonry subcontractor, J&J Masonry, Inc., to complete the work. J&J Masonry charges significantly more to complete the job than S&S Exteriors charged for the entire job. Exito wants to recover damages incurred for having to hire J&J Masonry to complete S&S Exteriors’ work. The contract is silent as to attorney’s fees.

Typically on large construction projects like that described above, the parties are sophisticated and usually have provisions in the contracts which would govern attorney’s fees. However, in this particular instance, there was no contractual provision accounting for recovery of fees. Can Exito recover attorney’s fees if it is successful in proving that S&S Exteriors was properly terminated from the project and that additional costs were incurred as a result of bringing J&J Masonry onto the project to complete the work?

The answer is generally no. Without a contractual provision, there is no legal authority from which to recover attorney’s fees, as the Missouri Private Prompt Payment Act does not govern this scenario because Exito is not bringing a claim that relates to payment.

However, the caveat is that S&S Exteriors would likely bring counterclaims in the lawsuit based on the Missouri Prompt Payment Act, and then the successful party would be entitled to collect attorney’s fees. This would be a situation where the opposing party opens the door to allowing for the recovery of attorney’s fees for Exito, if Exito is successful in its defense of the Prompt Payment Act claim and if the judge decides to award attorney’s fees.

Scenario 4: Contractor performs allegedly defective work on residential property and is defending homeowner’s claim of defective work

John Bruiser owns a remodeling company, Bruiser Construction, LLC. He typically remodels bathrooms, kitchens, and basements, and he’s been in business for 25 years. He meets a young couple, the Smiths, in their late 30s, early 40s, and Bruiser agrees to remodel their kitchen for a fixed price of $45,000.00, which includes the replacement of cabinets and flooring, as well as some painting, and minor drywall work. He also agreed to build the cabinets himself, which would be included in that price as well. There was no specific schedule, but he told the Smiths that he would have the project completed in no more than 3 months.

As construction progresses, the Smiths can tell that this project is going to take a lot longer than 3 months. The cabinets are not even fully constructed within the first 5 months, and the flooring is not lining up and is not level in certain areas. The contractor clearly did not know how to perform this job in a good and workmanlike manner. The project is going on 14 months, and the Smiths are irate. The contractor had bit off more than he could chew, and after the Smiths raised numerous complaints, Bruiser stopped answering their text messages or calls. He essentially disappeared.

Can the Smiths recovery attorney’s fees?

In this case, the question depends on whether the home on which Bruiser was performing work was the personal residence of the Smiths. If it was, then it also depends on whether the contract was merely negligent or committed some fraudulent, unscrupulous or unfair business practice. The simple failure to perform the work in a good and workmanlike manner is not sufficient. However, if there was something suspect going on with the contractor, there may be a statutory right to recover attorney’s fees pursuant to a claim based on violations of the MMPA.

Scenario 5: Contractor collects down payment for residential construction project and disappears with homeowner’s money

Randy Cognito (“Cognito”) is a fly by night contractor who performs roofing work. He is operating under the fictitious name (d/b/a) of Quality Roofing. Randy is a smooth talking salesman who convinces the homeowner to rebuild her deck for the “modest” fee of $42,000.00. The payment plan is to be structured into 3 installment payments of $14,000.00 each. The payments will be made (1) prior to Cognito commencing the work, (2) at the 50% completion point, and the last payment will be made (3) when the project is completed.

The homeowner wants to get the job moving because winter is quickly approaching, so she presses Cognito to start the work. Cognito explains to her that they cannot do anything until the first $14,000.00 payment is made in full. So, the homeowner writes a check and mails it to Cognito. Several weeks pass, and the homeowner does not hear anything from Cognito. Although, the check that she sent to him was cashed a few days after it was sent. The homeowner continues calling Cognito and never receives a response.

After numerous months pass without hearing from Cognito, the homeowner has a discussion with a neighbor who had the same thing happen to him. Cognito took his money and ran off with it.

Sadly, this situation happens all of the time. Can the homeowner collect attorney’s fees in this situation?

The answer is yes, but this article would neglect an important analysis if it did not briefly discuss throwing good money at bad. For every client who calls inquiring about this type of situation, our law firm discusses the possibility that we may never find the fraudulent contractor (Cognito) or that we might find him, but when we find him and take judgment, he has no money to collect on or is hiding assets.

These are all factors that the homeowner must take into consideration before proceeding against an unscrupulous or fraudulent contractor. However, after the homeowner has conducted an analysis and believes that it is in her best interests to proceed against the contractor, can she recover attorney’s fees?

The answer is: yes, there is a basis to seek recovery of attorney’s fees. The Missouri Merchandising Practices Act allows for the recovery of attorney’s fees when a contractor or company commits unlawful practices (i.e., deceptive, fraudulent, misrepresentations, false pretenses, omissions of material facts, etc.) against a consumer. In this case, Cognito duping the homeowner into paying $14,000.00 and then running off with her money would rise to the level of unlawful practices. This is a potential tool at the client’s disposal, but the client should also alert the Missouri Attorney General to prevent other unsuspecting victims from having to suffer through the same unfortunate and sad situation.

Scenario 6: Contractor begins residential construction project and changes pricing in middle of project

Sammy Samson (“Samson”) is a self-proclaimed general contractor. He pretty much does it all as far as interior repairs. He was hired by John Goodson to perform repairs and rehab work on a variety of different areas in the property, including drywalling, mudding, taping, and painting a bedroom; complete remodel of a kitchen; and replacement of shower enclosure in the bathroom. Samson prepared an estimate for Mr. Goodson, breaking down the project into 3 categories. Each scope of work had a fixed price for each portion. After Mr. Goodson reviewed the estimate, he liked the price and signed a contract with Samson, which reflected the fixed price amounts that Samson set forth in his estimate.

Samson began the project promptly and completed the drywalling, mudding, and taping portions of the work. However, shortly after beginning the painting, he submitted an additional invoice to Mr. Goodson, which was not included as part of the original estimate. He stated that the price of paint was rising due to tariffs and that Mr. Goodson owed him an additional $1,500.00, which must be paid before Samson will continue performing any additional work.

At this point, Mr. Goodson had already paid $5,000.00, and he feels like he’s being held hostage because he is stuck in the middle of the project and has to pay more amounts (that were not agreed to) in order to complete the work. Mr. Goodson does not feel like he’s being treated fairly, so he contacts the lawyer.

The first question Mr. Goodson asks after he tells his story is: “Can I collect attorney’s fees if we go after this guy?”
The answer is that there is a legal basis to support collection of attorney’s fees. The Missouri Merchandising Practices Act was designed to protect consumers from fraudulent billing practices like those which Samson was attempting to employ. The collection of attorney’s fees is at the discretion of the judge, but if Mr. Goodson can successfully prove his claim under the MMPA, then a judge is likely to award the same.

Conclusion

This article covers whether parties involved in construction litigation have the legal right to collect attorney’s fees.

Generally, the parties do not have a right to collect attorney’s fees on a construction project, unless there is a provision in the contract allowing the same or some statutory basis for collection of the same.

Missouri typically follows the American Rule:

“…which precludes recovery of attorney fees with these exceptions: (1) a statute or a contractual provision allows for their recovery; (2) the fees are incurred due to involvement in collateral litigation; or (3) equity demands it.” Marcomb v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co., 934 S.W.2d 17 (Mo. App. 1996).

Apart from a contractual basis, the two most common bases for collection of fees in a construction dispute are through the Missouri Prompt Payment Act and the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.

There are two types of Prompt Payment Acts in Missouri (public and private). However, for purposes of this article, the Prompt Payment Act’s effect is essentially covered in the following excerpt from the applicable statute: “[a]ll persons who enter into a contract for private design or construction work after August 28, 1995, shall make all scheduled payments pursuant to the terms of the contract.” R.S.Mo. § 431.180.1.

The Missouri Merchandising Practices Act is governed primarily by the following two statutory sections:

The act, use or employment by any person of any deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, unfair practice or the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise in trade or commerce…is declared to be an unlawful practice. R.S.Mo. § 407.020

Any person who purchases or leases merchandise primarily for personal, family or household purposes and thereby suffers an ascertainable loss of money or property, real or personal, as a result of the use or employment by another person of a method, act or practice declared unlawful by section 407.020, may bring a private civil action in either the circuit court of the county in which the seller or lessor resides or in which the transaction complained of took place, to recover actual damages. R.S.Mo. § 407.025.1

In an effort to apply the foregoing statutes/acts, we explored a variety of scenarios and provided an analysis as to whether attorney’s fees were recoverable in each situation. The scenarios were the following (see above for a full analysis of each):

Scenario 1: Contractor performs construction work on residential property and seeks payment of outstanding balance owed

Scenario 2: Contractor performs work on commercial building and seeks payment of outstanding balance owed

Scenario 3: General Contractor hires Subcontractor who performs defective work on commercial project which General Contractor has to repair/replace

Scenario 4: Contractor performs allegedly defective work on residential property and is defending homeowner’s claim of defective work

Scenario 5: Contractor collects down payment for residential construction project and disappears with homeowner’s money

Scenario 6: Contractor begins residential construction project and changes pricing in middle of project

Ultimately, there is no bullet proof strategy to ensure that your construction project will go smoothly 100% of the time. However, there are certain precautionary measures that may be taken to account for situations that commonly arise in the construction realm.

The construction contract that you sign should be fair and should account for situations that may pose a problem later down the road. Most importantly, the contract should include an attorney’s fees provision. That will often ensure that the parties to a construction dispute are more cautious about their actions, and, ultimately, it demands that they act with some level of accountability.

If you have any questions regarding your construction project, dispute or potential issue, or if you need a contract drafted or reviewed, please contact our law firm to assist you.

Daniel P. Gabris | Gabris Law, LLC

Construction Arbitration Lawyer

Bridge Construction

Litigating an Arbitration

Arbitration is a common clause in many construction contracts and is one manner of resolving a dispute without the direct intervention of the court system.

Some refer to it as alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”).

The person deciding the case is an arbitrator instead of a judge.  Once the arbitrator renders a decision, the ruling is binding on the parties.  The arbitration award is subsequently filed with a court of competent jurisdiction to memorialize and properly record the arbitrator’s findings.

Many companies include an arbitration clause in their contracts because it often reduces the amount of legal fees expended.

The reason for the lessened expenses is a result of lessened formalities in the arbitration process (as compared to litigating in the court system).

Some of these formalities, or lack thereof, include lessened evidentiary standards,  a shorter discovery phase, typically less motion work, and generally a more expedited process.

Trying a lawsuit in the Missouri court system can take years.  The arbitration process was aimed at stripping down the number of obstacles that parties face when trying a case before a judge.

Which brings up the next point: another benefit of the arbitration process involves the individual who decides the case.  Depending on the rules that govern the arbitration, the arbitrator is sometimes selected by the parties from a list (other times they will be chosen by the organization or association that governs the arbitration).

Sometimes the parties will have an opportunity to select their top 3-5 choices for an arbitrator and rank those persons.  The organization will then select the arbitrator that ranked the highest on average.

In any case, whether you are seeking representation for a construction law dispute or defect litigation, our attorneys know the arbitration process and can advise you of your company’s rights.

If you need assistance litigating an arbitration, you can contact one of our construction attorneys here.

St. Louis OSHA Violations Attorney

OSHA workers

Navigating OSHA Laws

As a construction company, you face an incredible amount of regulations.  After an OSHA violation, you should seek the guidance of a lawyer who knows the process.

In Missouri, it’s apparent that most employers’ goals are to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees.  Construction projects are no exception.  However, construction projects can pose some of the biggest risks and can involve some very complex work.

As a result, the contractor is tasked with a laundry list of regulations to follow such as dealing with OSHA and other regulatory compliance matters.  Consequently, it is quite difficult for a contractor to always remain in compliance with OSHA and other regulatory laws.

We understand how difficult this task can be, and our attorneys can counsel you to prevent potential OSHA violations.

In the event that you are already dealing with a violation, our lawyers can help you recover from the OSHA Violation(s) by guiding you through the appeal process.

Remember the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

If you contact us early enough, our lawyers may be able to save you worlds of trouble by preparing and preempting a potential investigation by an OSHA inspector and allowing your company to avoid unnecessary fines as a result of OSHA violations.

If your company is cited for violating OSHA laws, you should hire an attorney who knows the regulations and knows how to deal with the authorities. We can provide assistance for your OSHA violations and advise you on how to prevent such violations or similar occurrences in the future.

Further, our attorneys are cognizant of the importance of minimizing costs and will negotiate with the Department of Labor accordingly.

If you or your company is dealing with a citation for an OSHA violation, contact a St. Louis attorney who is knowledgeable in this area.

3 Defenses Missouri Construction Lawyers Can Assert in Consumer Cases

Hammer and nails

Defending Missouri Merchandising Practices Act Claims

Any contractors who work on residential property will inevitably have to deal with a difficult customer at some point in their career.

The customer may raise various issues about your work. like complaining about whether the work is defective or not, the aesthetic appeal, and a garden variety of other issues that arise in these situations.   

In the event that a consumer, or “putative consumer,” brings a claim against a contractor on the basis of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, the contractor’s attorney should know several defenses to protect the client from such claims.  

This article was designed to provide a few but certainly not all, common defenses used by a contractor in a Missouri Merchandising Practices Act claim case.  

The first defense deals with the issue of damages.

1.No ascertainable damages – the work was not defective, or even if it was defective, no damages resulted

One of the elements of a Missouri Merchandising Practices Act claim is that the damages need to be ascertainable.  Oftentimes the homeowner may be unpleased with the work product of a contractor, but the homeowner will not have actually incurred damages.  

The homeowner’s dissatisfaction with the aesthetics of a contractor’s work product might be an example of an area that may not cause the homeowner actual damages.

This is not always the case, however, as it may be a question of fact for the judge or jury to make a judgment call on as to what the contract says regarding aesthetics and/or whether the work was performed in a good and workmanlike manner.   

Another situation where the homeowner may not incur damages is if a contractor performs defective work on a project but subsequently remedies that defective work.

In any event, the damages element of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act is a susceptible place which your lawyer should consider attacking in the event you are sued in these types of situations.

2. Superseding/Intervening Force (i.e., third party) caused damages

If the contractor was not the cause of the damages, then obviously the consumer’s claim is subject to attack.  This is a common defense as many projects consist of a slew of different people working on the job simultaneously.  

The work performed by one contractor may cause damage to or adversely affect the work of another contractor.  In these situations, the superseding/intervening force (another contractor) can be a defense to a Missouri Merchandising Practices Act claim.  

Depending on the language contained in the contract, acts of God may also relieve a contractor from contractual duties.  As this defense is specific to the factual circumstances, and in particularly the language in the contract, each case needs to be individually assessed.  

If you have a question about a construction law case, please feel free to contact one of our attorneys.

3. The construction work was not for personal, family, or household purposes

If you’re working on a residence, you still cannot be sure that the residence is owned by a consumer.  This element must be proven by the alleged consumer.  

However, when a project has commercial aspects or when the owner of the property, even if it appears residential, is a commercial entity, you may have a defense to a Missouri Merchandising Practices Act claim.

One example of a susceptible area of attack would be work performed on a rental home. Often times limited liability companies will own rental homes and will have a contractor perform work on their property.  

If you are a construction company defending a consumer protection act claim, you should always check the deed of the property and be cognizant of the entity that is making the payments.

Depending on the factual circumstances, a lawyer defending one of these cases may be well-advised to assert a defense attacking the personal, family, or household element.  

Conclusion: Contractor Defenses Against Consumers on a Construction Project

This article gives a few defenses that you can assert as a contractor if you’re caught in the middle of a consumer protection case.  There are other defenses out there, but you should always consult an experienced construction law attorney when preparing your defense in a case.  

The following is a list of the three potential defenses discussed in this article:

  • No ascertainable damages – the work was not defective, or even if it was defective, no damages resulted
  • Superseding/Intervening Force (i.e., third party) caused damages
  • The work was not for personal, family, or household purposes

Depending on the facts of your case, these defenses could be your liability shield. Your lawyer should be aware of these defenses and, more importantly, should assert them in any applicable cases.  

If you need help with defending a construction defect case or other construction project defense case, contact a construction law attorney here.

St. Louis Construction Contract Attorneys

Federal Courthouse and St. Louis ArchConstruction Contract Litigators

Our firm deals with construction contracts on a regular basis.  Nearly all work performed on a construction project is carried out pursuant to a contract with the owner, contractor, subcontractor, or some other party on the project.  

The purpose of the contract is to govern the relationship between the entities and determine the duties and obligations that the contract imposes upon said parties. That’s why when problems occur on the project, you need to know the terms of the contract.  You also should have a lawyer review or draft your contract before beginning a project.  

The lawyer can explain your rights to you, and help you understand your responsibilities on the job.

Assistance with Construction Contracts

In order to protect our clients on a project, our construction law attorneys provide the following assistance with contractual matters:

      1. Reviewing
      2. Drafting
      3. Negotiating
      4. Litigating

The above list is just an example of a few areas where we can help.  If you need any assistance with contracts on a construction project, please contact an attorney at our office, and we can help you sort through any issues.

Answering your Construction Contract Law Question

Issues almost always arise on a construction project.  Sometimes Contractors wonder whether they are supposed to pay for the issue or whether someone else should be footing the bill.  The contract almost always governs these situations.

That is why it is critical to know and understand the terms of your construction contract. On big construction projects the contracts can be quite extensive with voluminous amounts of legalese that can be difficult to understand.

Our construction law attorneys can sort through that dense language and advise you as to how you should best proceed on the project.  Make sure that you know your rights if you’re working on a construction project, and consult with an attorney.

If you have a question about whether your contract is in compliance with Missouri law or whether certain clauses should be added or struck to protect your interests, contact one of our St. Louis Construction Lawyers today.

Other Types of Contracts Our Attorneys Draft and Litigate

Acquisition Agreements
Agent or Agency Agreements
Amendments or Modifications to a Contract
Asset Purchase Agreements
Bill of Sale
Broker-Carrier Agreements
Broker (Real Estate) Agreements
Business Contracts
Change Orders
Confidential Disclosure Agreements (CDA)
Construction Contracts
Unit Price Contracts
Lump Sum or Fixed Price Contracts
Cost-Plus Contracts
Time and Material Contracts
Incentive Contracts
Guaranteed Maximum Price Contracts
Percentage of Construction Contracts
Contract for Building & Sale of Residential Property
Deed of Trust
Employment Agreements
Equipment Use Agreements
Exclusive Limited Buyer’s Agreements
Forbearance Agreements
Guaranty
Independent Contractor Agreement (ICA)
Lease Agreements
Master Services Agreements
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
Mortgage
Non-Compete Contracts
Non-Disclosure Agreements  (NDA)
Operating Agreements
Partnership Agreements
Personal Guaranty
Prenuptial Agreements
Professional Services Agreements
Promissory Note
Power of Attorney
Purchase Order
Real Estate Contracts
Sale of Goods Contracts
Sales Commission Agreements
Security Agreements
Service Contracts
Settlement Agreements
Subordination Agreements
Transportation Agreements

Also, check out our article regarding 7 Provisions that Should be in Every Construction Contract

3 Safeguards Consumers Have Against General Contractors

Tape Measure

Consumer Protection in a Construction Law Case

Most people get their homes remodeled or perform some type of addition or other construction project on their homes. This is just a part of life, and it usually signifies moving up the ladder.  However, most people do not anticipate that a contractor will destroy their kitchen or use poor craftsmanship when repairing a roof, which causes substantial water damage to the home.  

In these situations, most people don’t know what to do.  They spent most of their reserve cash on the remodel. They have never been involved in a lawsuit, and they don’t know what to do.  

This article was written by a St. Louis Construction law attorney and was meant to address the issues described above and talk about some of the benefits that consumers have in a situation like that.

While it seems like a tough road, and perhaps will be, consumers do have certain advantages when a construction project goes south in Missouri.

1. Jury usually sides with the little guy & awards big damages

The U.S. Department of Justice (“USDOJ”) conducted a 2005 study on damage awards in cases in the state courts throughout the United States.

The USDOJ found that juries awarded an average of $74,000 in contract cases versus a petty $25,000 when the case was decided by a judge. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/ascii/cbjtsc05.txt

Many members of a jury decide a case based on emotion, regardless of whether it is a construction law claim or not.  

They’ll ask themselves what would be a fair outcome, but they’ll also consider the financial positions of the parties involved. Often times, a construction company has a lot of money and can overpower a consumer.  

The jury can see this and will account for this factor, usually empathizing with the little guy.  This fact alone makes it extremely important to hire a well-versed St. Louis construction lawyer, so you don’t fall victim to the caprice of the jury.  

A good construction lawyer will usually be able to preclude evidence that leads to the financial status of the company involved in the proceeding.  To the contrary, a good construction law attorney who represents a consumer may be able to expose this fact and capitalize on it with the jury.  

In any event, it is important to know that that when you deal with a jury, it is always a roll of the dice because of the emotional factor.  

Construction companies have to ask themselves whether they are willing to bet the business on the litigation.  A good lawyer can advise the construction companies as to the proper way to proceed in such instances.

To make an example of the contrary, a good construction law attorney representing a consumer will play the jury’s emotions by telling a captivating story, keeping the jury’s attention and swaying their emotions.  

For those reasons, choosing the right attorney to represent your company, or you as a homeowner, is critical, especially if the stakes are high.

The next question you might ask yourself then, is how am I going to afford a good St. Louis Construction lawyer?

The answer is: your construction lawyer could potentially be free…

2. Attorneys Fees Could be Paid for Under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act

The Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (“MMPA”) is an act in Missouri that allows for attorney’s fees to the prevailing party (at the court’s discretion).  

R.S.Mo. 407.025, denominated the Merchandising Practices Act, states the following:

The court may, in its discretion, award punitive damages and may award to the prevailing party attorney’s fees, based on the amount of time reasonably expended, and may provide such equitable relief as it deems necessary or proper.

http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/40700000251.HTML

Beware and note, the phrase: may award to the prevailing party attorney’s fees…  

First, the term may means discretionary, and in practice, the Court decides attorney’s fees under the MMPA. So really whatever the court believes the outcome should be.

Also, to the prevailing party: this makes it a high stakes game because the loser could end up footing two attorneys’ bills.

Missouri courts are supposed to take into consideration the purpose of the statute, which is typically lenient toward consumers, thus giving the consumers more incentive to pursue their claims against the contractors.

There’s also the underlying goal of reaching an equitable result, which means that the more egregious the case is–for example if a contractor tries to scam a consumer–the more likely the court will award attorney’s fees.

In order to pursue attorney’s fees, you first must have expenses from an attorney first–this is the difficult task, but you may be able to arrange a contract with the attorney to help you survive the litigation process from a financial standpoint (with the hopes or expectation that you will ultimately recover attorney’s fees).

3. Construction Law Cases under the MMPA are Fairly Easy to Prove

Usually a consumer case is fairly easy to prove in the context of a construction law proceeding.  

That’s because there are four elements in a Missouri Merchandising Practices claim (consumer construction law claim), and many of them, by the the nature of the MMPA elements, are already proven (or stipulated to) in a construction law case.

The elements of the MMPA relating to construction law are roughly the following:

  1. The homeowner purchased merchandise from the general contractor
  2. The purchase was for personal, family, or household purposes
  3. The homeowner suffered an ascertainable loss of money or property
  4. The loss occurred as a result of an unlawful act under the Merchandising Practices Act.

Below, each element will be discussed:

A.The homeowner purchased merchandise from the general contractor

Merchandise is defined in the Missouri Revised Statutes section 407.010 as “any objects, wares, goods, commodities, intangibles, real estate or services”.

Services is the key word in the statute.  Any general contractor hired by a homeowner is providing services.  That alone satisfies the first element.  

B. The purchase was for personal, family, or household purposes

This is an easy element to satisfy as well.  One of the few difficulties that may arise is if the home upon which the general contractor is working happens to be a rental home.  Otherwise, the work being performed on the home is clearly for personal, family, or household purposes.  

C. The homeowner suffered an ascertainable loss of money or property

This element again is easily satisfied if the contractor screws up your home.  The money that you spent on the renovation or construction project was basically just wasted on the contractor’s failed performance.  

If the contractor did not cause a loss of money or property against the contractor, then the homeowner has no business bringing the lawsuit in the first place.  Accordingly, suffering an ascertainable loss of money or property is yet another element that a homeowner can prove by showing that the work was not performed according to the contract or that it was not performed in a good and workmanlike manner.  

Usually in a trial, this element can be proven through a subsequent contractor who came to perform the repairs or to provide an estimate regarding what it takes to repair the defective work.

D. The loss occurred as a result of an unlawful act under the Merchandising Practices Act

The following is a list of unlawful acts that can be committed under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act:

  • deception
  • fraud
  • false pretense
  • false promise
  • misrepresentation
  • unfair practice
  • concealment of a material fact
  • suppression of a material fact
  • omission of a material fact

This is by far the most difficult element of the MMPA that a homeowner has to prove. Most attorneys will argue that defective work under a contract is merely defective work, and perhaps breaches the warranty that each construction contract imposes: the duty to perform the work in a good and workmanlike manner.  

The lawyer will continue to arue: “without some conscious, intentional misrepresentation, all the homeowner has is a breach of contract claim.”

However, Missouri law has been pretty clear that in an MMPA claim, the conduct of the actor is what is the most important.  

Thus, the rebuttal argument from opposing counsel (homeowner’s attorney) becomes the following: “the contractor made representations to the homeowner that he was competent and experienced in performing the renovation work, but the contractor either (1) did not have the experience and competence as represented or (2) committed an unfair practice by cutting corners to save money when the contractor knew the procedure to perform the work properly.

Accordingly, many homeowners, despite all odds seemingly stacked against them, do have a legitimate chance in a battle against a big construction company.  

In order to fully protect these rights, you should always contact a competent construction law attorney in St. Louis.  

Conclusion as to Why Construction Law Cases are Teed up for Consumers

This article told you 3 reasons why consumers may have an advantage in a Missouri construction law case.  

  1. The jury usually sides with the consumer because they feel empathy for that person or for the family suffering from the shoddy work.
  2. Attorney’s fees are a potential threat to the contractor–beware, however, attorney’s fees could be imposed against the consumer, but such cases are rare
  3. Elements of the claim (MMPA) are fairly easy to prove

While it may seem like a daunting task for a consumer to fight against a big construction company, we have St. Louis construction law attorneys that will help you fight back.  

We know construction law well, and we know how to protect consumers from these terrible situations.  

Please contact our lawyers if you are faced with a situation like this.  Our lawyers have handled numerous cases like this in the past, and we are happy to discuss your case with you.  

Contact a St. Louis Construction Lawyer here.

3 Benefits the Missouri Prompt Payment Act Provides Contractors

Drill Bits

General Background on the Missouri Prompt Payment Act

Are you a contractor that has not been paid on a construction project?  Looking for an attorney to help you collect?  

You might be able to get your attorney’s fees paid for, and you might be able to reap the benefits of a number of other perks that accompany a Missouri Prompt Payment Act claim.  

The Missouri Prompt Payment Act is a group of statutes given the prompt payment title because of their ultimate purpose–these statutes were enacted to ensure that contractors on a construction project are expeditiously paid.  

The legislature noticed that contractors’ or owners’ failure to make payment on a construction project was becoming a significant problem, and there needed to be a remedy.  

Thus, the legislature incentivized payment by imposing various penalties.  

This article was written to discuss a few of those penalties as well as the benefits for contractors that make a Missouri Prompt Payment Act claim.  

1. Immediate Payment on the Project

As stated above, the goal of the Missouri Prompt Payment Act is to pressure the owner or general contractor into making payment as quickly as possible, so the contractor claimant receives the money to which s/he/it is entitled.  

The statute sets forth the time at which payment should be made.  The statute, R.S.Mo. section 431.180, the Missouri Private Prompt Payment Act, defers to the contract: “all persons who entered into a contract for private design or construction work after August 28, 1995, shall make all scheduled payments pursuant to the terms of the contract.”

In the event that those persons do not make payment, the statute provides a civil remedy that comes with other perks.

2. A Means to Pay for Your St. Louis Construction Law Attorney

Despite the incurrence of unwanted fees from hiring an attorney, you might be able to recover any monies paid out for attorney’s fees pursuant to Missouri statutes.

If you hire a St. Louis Construction Law Attorney, the statute provides a means to pay for him or her.  

The statute states the following: [t]he court may in addition to any other award for damages, award…reasonable attorney fees, to the prevailing party.” R.S.Mo. section 431.180.

Keep in mind that attorney’s fees are not guaranteed.  

The statute merely provides the potential to collect attorney’s Fees.  In any case, the potential to collect attorney’s fees creates leverage in the settlement of construction project disputes and that puts pressure on the owner or the non-paying contractor to immediately make payment.

If that entity or person fails to pay, they take the risk of potentially paying your attorney’s bill too.  

3. 18% Interest Rate for Unpaid Work under the Contract

The Missouri Prompt Payment Act Provides for an 18% interest rate. This is an incredible rate considering the ordinary statutory rate in Missouri is 9%.

From the time a claim becomes liquidated (an undisputed amount that is due and owing), interest begins to accrue.  This is a heavy burden for a non-paying owner or general contractor to foot if they wish to challenge the amounts because litigation could last for several years.  

If the court or jury finds against the non-paying owner or contractor, they could also be footing a heavy bill as a result of the additional interest. For this reason, you should consult a competent St. Louis Construction lawyer to help you determine your rights and decide whether payment should be forthcoming or whether a party has legitimate grounds to withhold payment.  

Conclusion

This article just told you about three benefits that a contractor can avail himself of through the Missouri Prompt Payment Act, when attempting to collect payment on a construction project.  

The three advantages a contractor has by using the Missouri Prompt Payment Act are the following:

  1. The statute calls for immediate payment in accordance with the contractual terms thereof.
  2. The statute provides for attorney’s fees to the prevailing party–remember this is discretionary.
  3. The statute also provides for 18% interest on amounts due and owing, which is twice the normal Missouri statutory interest rate.

For all of the above reasons, the Missouri Prompt Payment Act can be a very effective tool for contractors who are attempting to collect on a construction project.  

Because litigation can be a very complex process, contractors that need help collecting for work performed should contact a St. Louis construction law attorney for assistance.

5 Ways to Collect Payment on a Missouri Construction Project

Do Not Enter Construction Sign General Discussion about the Collection Process

There are numerous ways to collect payment if you are a contractor owed on a construction project in Missouri.  This article will tell you the five most commonly used methods of collecting when an owner or general contractor fails to pay on a project.  

1. File a Mechanic’s Lien

The first, and perhaps most powerful, way of collecting on a Missouri construction project is by filing a mechanic’s lien statement.  Most contractors will attempt to do this on their own.  While a handful of the do-it-yourself liens that are filed may withstand attack, the majority of the mechanic’s liens filed pro se can easily be vitiated with the basic mechanic’s lien defenses.  

See the article called 4 Defenses to Mechanic’s Liens in Missouri for more information on defending or properly filing a lien in Missouri.  

2. Make a Bond Claim

Not all projects have bonds, but when a bond exists, it acts almost as insurance on the project.  Public works projects almost always require a bond because a governmental entity is the owner on the project, and it would incredibly debilitate that governmental entity’s credibility and image if a contractor were able to lien up the government owned property.  

For example, if an electrician performs work on the city hall building and is not paid for the work performed, the electrician would put a mechanic’s lien on city hall.  In order to prevent

3. Make a Breach of Contract Claim

Even if your lien is invalid or you did not properly preserve your lien rights, you still likely have a claim for breach of contract on a construction project.  Usually construction projects are of a significant enough magnitude to warrant a written contract.  

However, occasionally contractors who are trying to keep the job informal or are “old school” will not sign a written contract that lays out the scope of the work and/or terms and conditions of the contractual agreement.  

Are oral contracts enforceable on a construction project?

As a lawyer, a question that we are often asked is whether an oral contract on a construction project is enforceable. The general answer is yes.  There are certain contracts that are required, by Missouri law, to be in writing.  

4. Make a Quantum Meruit Claim

Quantum meruit basically means whatever is deserved or whatever it’s worth.  It’s a claim based in equity as the policy behind a quantum meruit claim is to effectuate a fair outcome for the parties. For example, if work is performed for someone, it is only fair that the person receiving the work, pay the fair value for that work.  

A quantum meruit claim is secondary to a contract claim.  Some lawyers use it as a catch-all in the unlikely event that the court finds the contract invalid.  Although there would no longer be a valid claim for breach of contract, fairness would dictate that the contractor should be paid in a manner commensurate with the amount of work performed.  

5. Make a Missouri Prompt Payment Act Claim

Last but not least, and perhaps the biggest hammer in collecting on a construction law case: The Missouri Prompt Payment Act.  This is one of the best ways to collect because it comes with interest at a rate of 18% per annum.

That means 1.5% per month.  The statutory interest rate in Missouri is 9%, so this is double the regular statutory rate.

In addition to the elevated interest that a claimant can obtain, the claim also comes with reasonable attorney’s fees.  

This is a major threat for a non-paying contractor or owner as they not only risk paying the full amount for the work performed, there is a significant amount of fees and interest racking up.  

The Missouri Prompt Payment Act provides for certain amounts of time in which the contractor has to make payment of an undisputed amount.  

If the owner or contractor does not make payment within that time period, interest will start to accrue (assuming the claimant has complied with all documentation submission requirements as well as the other contractual obligations.

See 3 Benefits the Missouri Prompt Payment Act Provides Contractors for a more detailed discussion of the Missouri Prompt Payment Act.  

Conclusion

There are a number of ways to get paid on a construction project. You just learned about five different ways above.

The following is a recap of the different methods a contractor or subcontractor can use to get paid on a construction project:

  1. File a mechanic’s lien
  2. Make a bond claim
  3. Make a breach of contract claim
  4. Make a quantum meruit claim
  5. Make a Missouri Prompt Payment Act claim

You’ve learned the starting points for collecting, however there are certain procedural obstacles and technicalities when pursuing any of these claims.  You would be well-advised to consult an attorney if you plan on utilizing any of these methods.  

If you have more questions about collecting for work performed on a construction project, please feel free to contact our St. Louis construction law attorneys with questions.

General Overview of Missouri Construction Law

Construction Law Explained

No country in the world can prosper without the proper infrastructure.

Infrastructure refers to the fundamental need of a network of roads, bridges, telecommunications, water supply, airports and airways, hospitals etc. which helps the economy function.

Construction is the industry that plays a key role in providing this infrastructure.

Construction itself can be broadly defined as the process of planning, designing, financing, developing, and building something (whether that be a house, road, or dam).

In today’s age, the Construction Industry accounts for 6 to 9 percent of the total GDP of all developed countries. There is a lot of money being exchanged in the construction law industry, and for that reason, its important to know your rights on a construction project.

This article was meant to provide a general discussion about construction projects in general

Components of a Construction Team

Construction can sometimes be a complex process.  It requires the involvement of a whole team of people working together.

Some think it just involves engineers and architects and a contractor. However, its not limited to these few people. There’s a whole human resource behind it.

There are numerous people that make up a construction team, which include:

  • project manager,
  • architect,
  • construction engineer,
  • finance manager, and
  • a construction lawyer.

My role as an attorney is to protect contractors rights, so rather than discussing all the components of a construction project, this article and the other articles on this website will hone in on the legal aspects, contractual negotiation and disputes, collection efforts, and common pitfalls that occur during construction projects.

Construction Law

The law deals with nearly every matter that touches a construction project.

The following are a few examples of commonly litigated construction law matters:

  • disputes regarding the compliance with specifications and design in the construction of a building,
  • the duties and obligations of the electrician pursuant to the contract,
  • construction defect claims, breach of contract, and/or
  • negligence on the project either in failure to comply with the contractual specifications or negligently causing injury on the project.

While the range of coverage regarding construction law is quite expansive, it makes the most sense to first discuss a little bit about construction contracts as that creates a foundation and governs the interrelationship between the parties on the project.

What Laws Govern Missouri Construction Contracts?

In Missouri, a construction contract is governed by Missouri statutes and case law but is also influenced by the Supreme Court of the United States’ decisions. The Supreme Court of the United States’ decisions provide the basic framework of the law and the Missouri statutes and cases give guidance regarding more specific issues that arise in construction, including, but not limited to:

  • Construction Contracts
  • Substantial Compliance vs. Material Breach of a Contract
  • Privity and the interrelationship between contractors
  • Design Professionals in the event of Negligence
  • Breach of Warranty, both expressed and implied
  • Misrepresentation
  • Fraud
  • Unjust Enrichment
  • Tortious Interference with contract
  • Strict Liability Claims
  • Indemnity Claims

Tip: Due to the complexity of a construction project and the potential pitfalls that could arise from nuances in the above law, you should always contact a reliable St. Louis Construction Lawyer before commencing any construction project in Missouri.

The attorney will walk you through the proper procedure and ensure that your contract has the necessary provisions in it to protect your rights.

Below are 3 important facets in a Missouri construction project: Time, Change & Termination:

1. Changes to the Construction Contract:

There is usually a provision in the construction contract which deals with changes or modifications to the scope of work or condition. If there has to be any change in the scope or price of the project, the owner must approve it prior the start of the construction.

See C.P. Jhong, Annotation, Effect of Stipulation, in Private Building or Construction Contract, That Alterations or Extras Must Be Ordered in Writing, 2 A.L.R.3d 620 (1965).

Article 7 of AIA Document A201-1997, for example, contains three classifications of amendments which each differ slightly:

  1. Change Orders
  2. Construction Change Directives.
  3. Minor Changes

This website briefly explains these concepts, but you  should contact a St. Louis Construction Lawyer to learn more about your  contractual rights in case a change is made to the construction contract.

2. Time of Performance:

If in the construction contract, no completion time is mentioned and a dispute arises regarding delays or timely completion, Missouri law expects that the construction will be completed in a reasonable time. See ArtCraft Cabinet, Inc. v. Watajo, Inc., 540 S.W.2d 918 (Mo. App. W.D. 1976). Failure to do so may give rise to damages claims from the party in the tier above on the construction project food chain.

A good construction contract, like AIA Document A201-1997, General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, uses the time between the commencement of the work to the time of substantial completion as the total amount of time for completion allowed for the contractor, with very few exceptions.

A good construction law attorney will include this type of provision into the contract, accounting for any anticipated delays or hiccups in the project.

3. 3 Ways a Construction Contract Can be Terminated:

Termination of a construction contract can occur in three ways at least:

  1. Termination for convenience without the fault of any of the parties.
  2. Termination by mutual agreement.
  3. Termination by performance one party because the material breach of the other party.

Before terminating any contract, it is important to know your rights.  You can avoid exorbitant expenses if you follow the proper procedure before terminating.  In order to know your rights and whether you have the legal right to terminate a contract, you should always consult with an experienced construction law attorney prior to making any drastic moves.

Conclusion

Any party who wishes to start a construction project in Missouri, should first devise a proper plan. This plan should include hiring a number of different people for the project, including

  • a project manager,
  • an architect,
  • construction engineer,
  • St. Louis Construction Lawyer (if it’s a Missouri project),
  • finance manager.

There are so many moving parts on a construction project that its difficult to try to handle the legal aspects of it while juggling the other tasks.  Contact a knowledgeable St. Louis Construction Law attorney to help you with contract negotiations, collecting on a job, or defending a consumer lawsuit.

If you hire an attorney, they will prepare a defense plan and it will increase your chances of success in the litigation. Or, at the bare minimum it will create leverage to resolve the dispute.

As we all know a significant amount of disputes arise during a construction project. If you retain an attorney before the dispute arises, you may be able to prevent it from happening in the first place.  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Don’t let that phrase haunt you when your in the middle of an expensive lawsuit for something that a Construction Law attorney could have prevented by including a simple provision in the contract.  Get your contracts reviewed by a local St. Louis attorney, so you’re in compliance with the applicable Missouri and St. Louis construction law.

If a dispute ever does arise, and the project is in Missouri, you should immediately contact a St. Louis Construction Lawyer who can guide you through the legal aspects of the contract.