Spearin May Offer Recovery Avenue To Design-Build Subs

Monday, May 28, 2018 7:03 am
June 2018 - Volume 40 Number 6

A subcontractor attempted to recover for design errors on a design-build project using the Spearin doctrine as its argument basis. Unfortunately, too many questions remained unanswered about whether those errors caused the sub’s damages for a final determination.

In U.S. f/u/b/o Bonita Pipeline v. Balfour Beatty Construction, LLC, 2017 U.S. Dist. WL 2869721 (S.D. Calif. May 19, 2017), Balfour Beatty Construction (BBC) entered into a $35 million contract for the design and construction of the MV-22 Double Hangar Replacement at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California. BBC provided Bonita Pipeline, Inc. (Bonita) with design documents, which it claimed were designated as “incomplete,” so that Bonita could bid on one of the project’s subcontracts. Bonita did, and BBC and Bonita entered into a $4.7 million subcontract under which Bonita agreed to “design-build structural steel, metal decking, trench drain grate and frame and site utilities” for the project.

When work on the project began, so did the disputes, prompted by the project design documents, which Bonita claimed were defective.

Sub assumed some design risk

Because this was a design-build project, under the parties’ subcontract,[..]