Steptoe has decades of experience in resolving disputes arising out of construction projects.  We have successfully handled disputes involving natural gas and oil power plants, tunnels, rail and subway systems, nuclear facilities, gas and petroleum production facilities and pipelines, wind farms, port facilities, airports, process plant, surface mining, big city office and condominium buildings, and public and commercial buildings. 

We frequently represent public and private entities, including engineering procurement and construction (EPC) contractors and fabricators, property owners, developers, major equipment suppliers, sureties, and other players in disputes that principally stem from disagreements over how much each party is owed if a project veers from its initial plan and include:

  • Construction defects
  • Contract scope and change order issues
  • Delay
  • Design deficiencies
  • Disruption and lost productivity
  • Failure to meet performance standards and guarantees
  • Late project completion
  • Post-completion defect warranty claims
  • Demands or threatened demands under bonds and guarantees

We use court litigation, arbitration, adjudication and expert determination to protect our clients’ rights, but in addition we employ a “win-win” approach to negotiations and mediations that has been particularly successful in achieving favorable settlements throughout the years.  We have participated in resolving hundreds of construction disputes and that experience counts.  In addition, Steptoe’s experience includes handling numerous grievance mediations with the Teamsters, and in more than 20 construction Dispute Review Boards (DRBs) on large construction projects.  In addition, in concert with the lawyers in our Property Group, we negotiate construction contracts worth many billions of dollars for projects around the world.

Our lawyers and our practice have been recognized by many of the leading legal directories, including Chambers and The Legal 500, which calls us “the real deal” and “incredibly intelligent practitioners.”  We use the knowledge gleaned from resolving disputes when drafting, reviewing and negotiating construction contracts on behalf of clients, and we regularly advise on the terms of building and EPC contracts, subcontracts and collateral warranties, equipment supply agreements, bonds and guarantees, and professional appointments.

Representative Matters

  • Counsel to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in an American Arbitration Association international rules arbitration against Shaw Group, Inc. relating to the construction of the natural gas combined cycle generating facility at Covert, Michigan.  This litigation was a sweeping dispute that involved issues as to critical path analyses of the entire plant (including the effect of ineffective contract performance outside the power island), the plant’s overall control systems (including interconnection issues), air intake, the heat recovery steam generator, and the interface between the gas and steam cycles. 
  • Represented a Middle Eastern specialist fabricator against a German EPC contractor in ICC arbitration arising from a process plant project in Saudi Arabia, involving unpaid milestones, called bonds and guarantees, claims for delay and disruption, and allegations of defective work.
  • Represented a Grand Canyon hotel in a successful construction defect lawsuit involving a large renovation against general contractor and numerous subcontractors as to renovations made to hotel in Northern Arizona.  Settlement after initial motions success.
  • Represented PSE&G, the defendant utility that operated the entire two-unit pressurized water reactor Salem Nuclear Power Plant under a license from the NRC.  There had been an incident that led to a shutdown of the plant and other owner-utilities alleged that PSE&G had not prudently operated the plant, while PSE&G pointed to defective construction issues.  The litigation revolved around determining the true seminal cause of the plant shutdown and whether or not the shutdown was caused by faulty operation or bad construction.  The proof entailed scheduling and damages models. 
  • Lead counsel to the Dominican Republic and the Corporación Dominicana de Entidades Eléctricas Estatales in successful $775 million International Chamber of Commerce arbitration relating to capacity and environmental non-performance of coal-fired power generating station in Puerto Plata, DR.  In this litigation, we examined issues relating to the alleged equipment and construction defects which adversely affected the performance environmental adequacy of the entire facility.
  • Party arbitrator in Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Inc. v. Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Venezuela, an ICC arbitration involving a dispute of several hundred million dollars between a shipbuilder and the national government in connection with the reconstruction and modification of two military frigates.

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  • The Legal 500 UK, London: Real Estate – Construction, 2012-15

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