Articles Posted in Government Contracts

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Brian Welken appealed after a jury returned a verdict in favor of Eugene Taszarek, Marlys Taszarek, Trina Schilling, Steven Taszarek, and Michael Taszarek ("Taszareks") and against Lakeview Excavating, Inc., ("Lakeview") and Welken. Lakeview was a corporation primarily involved in flood control projects, and Welken was Lakeview's president and sole shareholder. In the spring of 2012, German Township in Dickey County solicited bids for road construction projects to repair and raise the grade of a road near the Taszareks' property. Lakeview, acting through Welken, successfully bid and was selected as the contractor for the road projects. Lakeview obtained most of its field rock for the project from area farmers and ranchers with rock piles on their properties. Lakeview arranged with landowners to harvest rocks from their fields and reclaim the ground so it could again be farmed, and landowners allowed Lakeview to remove rock piles. Herb Buerkley owned land adjacent to land owned by the Taszareks, and Buerkley permitted Lakeview to enter his family's property to harvest field rock. While harvesting the rock piles from Buerkley's land, Lakeview's employees crossed into the Taszareks' land and harvested field rock. The Taszareks brought an action against both Lakeview and Welken, asserting claims of intentional trespass, conversion, and unjust enrichment arising from Lakeview's work on the German Township road-raising project. The district court held a jury trial on the Taszareks' trespass and conversion claims against Lakeview and Welken. During trial, the Taszareks' attorney asked the court to instruct the jury on the theory that Lakeview was the "alter ego" of Welken and that Welken should therefore be personally liable for any judgment. Over the objection of Welken's attorney, the court gave an instruction regarding the alter ego doctrine. After review, the Supreme Court concluded Welken failed to preserve whether the district court misapplied the law by allowing the jury to resolve whether Lakeview was the alter ego of Welken. Furthermore, the Court concluded that the trial court erred as a matter of law in inadequately instructing the jury regarding the alter ego doctrine. The Court therefore reversed the judgment and remanded for a new trial. View "Taszarek v. Welken" on Justia Law

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Bridge Company appeals a district court judgment ordering it to donate a toll bridge to the cities of Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota, free and clear of all liens. In May 1986, the cities and the Company entered into an agreement for the purpose of construction and operation of a private toll bridge over the Red River connecting the cities. The bridge was completed and started operations on June 1, 1988. The bridge was originally financed with publicly-sponsored bonds issued by Moorhead and capital from an investment firm. In 2004, the cities agreed to allow the Company to refinance the indebtedness, but the refinancing was required to be completely amortized by June 1, 2013, which was 25 years from the commencement of the operation of the bridge. The bank refinancing the debt required personal guarantees from the Company's two shareholders. As of June 1, 2013, the Company owed approximately $75,000 on the refinanced loan. In early September 2013, the Company's two shareholders satisfied their personal guarantees for the debt, and as of September 6, 2013, none of the original indebtedness for construction of the bridge remained outstanding. During the 25-year time span, the Company's records reflected $108,761 was paid for maintenance and repair of the bridge. All of these bills were paid by the Company before February 6, 2014. However, taxes remained owing to Cass County, North Dakota, and Clay County, Minnesota, and the unpaid taxes constituted a lien on the bridge. The district court found that during the 25-year period between June 1, 1988, and June 1, 2013, the bridge was closed 249 days because of flooding on the Red River. Applying an Acts of God clause in the original agreement, the court ruled the 25-year period was extended 249 days to February 5, 2014, and because there was no qualifying debt in existence as of that date, the Company was required to donate the bridge to the cities free and clear of any liens. Because the district court did not err in interpreting the parties' agreement and the court's findings of fact were not clearly erroneous, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "City of Moorhead v. Bridge Co." on Justia Law

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American General Contractors, Inc. ("AGC"), appealed a judgment assessing liability and awarding damages and interest for the cost of delays in the construction of the Williams County Law Enforcement Center in Williston. C&C Plumbing and Heating, LLP ("C&C"), the successful bidder for the mechanical prime contract, filed suit when construction the center was delayed approximately two years after "substantial completion" was supposed to have happened. The district court concluded it was appropriate for the County and AGC to share responsibility for providing temporary shelter and heat on the project. The court apportioned 47 percent of the liability for the costs of the delay for the three and one-half months of active interference to the County and 53 percent to AGC, for the four months delay inherent to the industry. The court awarded C&C approximately $73,000 on its claim against the County. After offsetting amounts owed between the parties, the court awarded AGC approximately $424,000 on its claim against the County. The court awarded Davis Masonry approximately $96,000 from AGC for masonry work completed under its subcontract with AGC, and rejected AGC's claimed offsets to that amount. Davis had provided heat, cover and shelter for the project during cold weather and sought $649,000 from the County and AGC for that expense including prompt payment interest. Davis had settled with the County for $530,000, and the court ruled AGC was responsible for 53 percent of the remaining $119,000, or $63,070. AGC argues the district court erred in determining AGC was liable for any of the costs incurred from the delay under its contract with the County. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "C&C Plumbing and Heating, LLP v. Williams County" on Justia Law