Pennsylvania Construction Law is published by the Cipriani & Werner Construction Law Group
We are one of the largest law firms in the state with a focus on defense of businesses and insurers in the areas of premises, transportation, professional, and general liability, workers’ compensation and employment matters, as well as construction and commercial litigation. We have a strong reputation of consistently aggressive representation, with over eighty attorneys based in offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and West Virginia. We are capable of providing a full range of legal services to the architectural, engineering and construction community, including construction litigation, employment law, business law, and corporate governance.
C&W is quite unlike large “institutional” law firms. First, we are still close enough to the ground to provide our clients with responsive, personal service. Second, many institutional law firms focus primarily on serving Fortune 500 and Wall Street clients, staff their cases with multiple “layers” of attorneys, bill clients for hours of “inter-office conference” time, and charge relatively high hourly fees – ostensibly to support huge overhead costs. Over the years, we have found that our clients are particularly savvy, and that they view legal fees in a different light than many large corporate clients. We attribute our growth and preeminence to our unique ability to provide cost-effective services and a high-caliber work product that is typically associated with institutional firms. The depth of our practice translates into value for our clients because no matter what situation arises, it is very likely that we have handled a similar matter.
Our services include:
Counseling · Risk Management
Our primary focus in consulting owners, designers, and contractors is to eliminate, shift, defer, or minimize business risks to each client’s maximum advantage. We take pride in rolling up our sleeves and breaking a sweat before change orders become claims. Our risk management commitment to clients includes our pledge to:
- Work with you to conceptualize, negotiate, draft and implement contracts;
- Audit and provide advice on your insurance and bonding issues; and
- Offer “Boots on Ground” seminars – in your house and ours – to train your owners, project managers and employees on claims avoidance.
Contract Preparation · Contract Review
A successful project starts with a good contract, one that reflects the needs of the particular project and fairly and reasonably allocates risks and rewards among the parties. We regularly assist contractors with their agreements, whether drafting and negotiating unique “manuscript” contracts for complicated projects, or a quick consultation on insurance, indemnity, no-damages- for-delay, pay-if-paid, or other key risk-shifting provisions. Our contract services include:
- Modify AIA, AGC, ConsensusDOCS, DBIA, and other standard industry form contacts;
- Negotiate and prepare manuscript contacts for complicated or unique projects;
- Prepare “master” contracts and subcontracts for use in multiple projects;
- Prepare purchase order forms; and
- Advise as to project delivery methods and contract types (lump sum, cost-plus fee, guaranteed maximum price, design-bid-build, design-build, CM at-risk, CM agency, and multi-prime procurement).
For all project participants, insurance is a critical component of risk management, one that can make or break a company. We guide contractors and design professionals through the complicated maize of insurance coverage and claims. Our insurance services include:
- Review existing insurance programs for gaps in coverage, etc.;
- Use market knowledge and relationships to assist in obtaining best coverage available; and
- Mediate, arbitrate, and litigate insurance coverage disputes.
A sound surety bond program is key to a contractor’s success, especially for those involved in public projects. We work closely with leading surety bond agents to assist contractors in their surety programs. Our surety bond services include:
- Counseling on surety issues;
- Preparing indemnity agreements;
- Representing sureties and contractors in default claims; and
- Prosecuting and defending claims on bid, payment, and performance bonds;
Procurement and Bid Disputes
Procurement and bidding on public projects is a complex process with many potential pitfalls. Our attorneys have extensive experience in all aspects of the procurement process, from assisting clients in the bidding process to representing contractors in bid protests.
Our services include:
- Counseling on public bidding requirements and process;
- Advising clients on bid review and award; and
- Prosecuting bid contests.
Mechanics’ Liens · Prompt Payment Claims
Sometimes the hardest part of a project is getting paid, especially final payment and release of contract retention. We help contractors get paid. Services we provide include:
- Utilize our relationships with title companies to perform title examinations and prepare/record mechanics’ liens;
- Bond off mechanics’ liens for general contractors and owners;
- Prosecute and defend claims under prompt payment statutes (e.g., Pennsylvania’s Contractor and Subcontract Payment Act, “CASPA”);
- Mediate, arbitrate, and litigate payment disputes throughout our region, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and Maryland.
Construction Defect · Design Defect · Unforeseen Conditions
Resolving construction defect, design defect, and unforeseen/differing site conditions claims often requires knowledge of basic construction means and methods and design principles. Our group includes attorneys and professionals with college degrees in civil engineering and practical experience in construction and design. In addition, we have close working relationships with construction and design consulting firms that can assist in prosecuting or defending these claims. Our experience includes:
- Prosecute and defend design “errors and omissions” claims;
- Represent contractors and subcontractors in disputes involving personal injury or property damage arising out of construction defects; and
- Represent construction managers, program managers, general contractors, and specialty contractors in claims relating to defective design of structural, HVAC, plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems.
Schedule Delay · Disruption · Acceleration Claims
In construction, “time is money.” Disputes often arise regarding schedule delays and disruptions, acceleration demands, and liquidated damages. Working with our close relationships with outside claims and scheduling consultants, we regularly represent contractors and design professionals in schedule-related claims and disputes. We have extensive experience prosecuting and defending:
- Delay and acceleration claims;
- Disruption and productivity impact claims;
- Home office overhead and “Eichleay” claims; and
- Liquidated damages claims.
Our goal as a construction lawyer is to help clients avoid disputes through effective risk management. However, in today’s challenging construction market, disputes are at times inevitable. When disputes occur, contractors need advocates who can resolve them quickly and effectively. Our group includes leading construction attorneys recognized by Pennsylvania Super Lawyers, Pennsylvania Rising Stars, Martindale-Hubbell and other independent peer reviews. Our experience includes:
- Represent contractors in mediation, arbitration, and other alternative dispute resolution proceedings;
- Litigate construction disputes in federal and state courts and courts of claims throughout our region, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York and Maryland.