The Supreme Court of Virginia will get a chance to interpret Virginia Code Sec. 33.1-386, which requires a contractor to submit any claim for damages against the Virginia Department of Transportation “at the time of the occurrence or beginning of the work upon which the claim and subsequent action is based.”
AMEC Civil LLC acknowledged that it didn’t do that during the construction of an 11-bridge project on the Clarksville bypass segment of U.S. 58, but it contended that VDOT was on notice of its claim and wasn’t prejudiced by its failure to comply strictly with the law.
Trial Judge Charles E. Poston agreed and awarded AMEC $21.5 million in damages for delay on top of the $72.5 million contract price for the project. “Legal form must yield to the interests of legal function,” Poston wrote.
However, the Virginia Court of Appeals said, “We can only administer the law as it is written” and took away most of the award.
E. Duncan Getchell Jr. was the lead attorney on AMEC’s appeal, but he won’t get a chance to argue the case. He was named state solicitor general while the appeal was pending.
By Alan Cooper