With any construction law claim, the builder or general contractor is usually liable to the owner and cannot delegate the contractual and statutory obligations owing to the owner by simply pointing to a subcontractor. Consequently, the written contract and insurance policies typically govern the liability each party faces when presented with a claim. The proper interpretation of these documents becomes critical when litigating construction law claims. The parties involved in construction litigation are often forced to file suit against other parties involved in the construction project. The resulting lawsuit typically involves several cross-complaints filed by others joining the litigation. Because construction litigation claims usually involve multiple parties, an abundance of documents, and a myriad of legal and factual issues which are most often in dispute between the multiple parties, the cases are deemed “complex litigation.” The number of parties, documents, depositions, site inspections, legal and factual issues typically found, not only in the underlying complaint but cross-complaints between the parties, can result in delays to a typical trial court calendar, making the litigation both costly and lengthy.
Because these construction litigation cases present challenges to a court as matters are presented in hearings, motion practice and trial, some jurisdiction will assign special masters or discovery referees to triage the discovery needed in these cases and will usually extend the statutory deadlines on trial settings to accommodate the complex litigation. Consequently, if your case becomes complex, you will need to retain counsel experienced in the complex process, can navigate through the various discovery issues and effectively present your case through each phase of the case.