Absolutely do NOT execute a waiver and release in consideration of a progress payment that waives and releases claims (such as change order requests, lost productivity, or delay) that you are not prepared to release through the date of the release. Carve out such exceptions from the release—identify those claims or rights you are not prepared to release. Otherwise, when you go to pursue such claims, the waiver and release you previously executed will come back to haunt you!
For example, in U.S. f/u/b/o Chasney and Company, Inc. v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co., 2016 WL 852730 D.Md. 2016), a prime contractor on a federal project subcontracted with a mechanical and plumbing subcontractor. The subcontractor’s last partial waiver and release it executed in consideration of a progress payment was in November 2013 for payment through October 31, 2013. The waiver and release provided that the subcontractor waived and released all liens, claims, and demands against the prime contractor or its surety in connection with the project through the period covered by the payment (through October 31, 2013). The waiver and release included space for the subcontractor to identify exceptions. No such exceptions were identified. In fact, prior to November 2013, the subcontractor executed a total of 24 progress waivers and releases and never excepted a single item or claim from the release.
Notwithstanding, the subcontractor encountered design defects that caused it to incur additional costs and delayed its performance. The subcontractor asserted pass-through claims that the prime contractor submitted to the federal government. However, when the prime contractor and government settled their issues and a global settlement was reached, no amounts were assigned to respective items such as the subcontractor’s pass-through claims. The subcontractor then asserted the Miller Act payment bond lawsuit against the prime contractor’s Miller Act payment bond surety.
Applicable here, the surety and prime moved for summary judgment that any damages, including delay-related damages, that the subcontractor sought through October 31, 2013 were waived and released through the subcontractor’s November 2013 progress waiver and release. The District Court of Maryland agreed since all it had to look to was the last waiver and release the subcontractor executed where it waived and released such rights:
“By executing the October 31 Partial Release without exempting its claim, Chasney [subcontractor] relinquished its right to pursue the claim should it ever ripen. In hindsight, Chasney may regret its decision to sign such a release—but the Court’s task is to examine the agreement the parties did sign, not the agreement that one or the other now wishes they had negotiated instead….
In summary, the Court’s analysis begins and ends—as it must—with the unambiguous language of the Partial Releases. By signing each release, Chasney waived all claims relating to work performed through the covered period: no reasonable factfinder could conclude otherwise. While Chasney’s opposition brief teems with subtle linguistic maneuvers (and more than a few red herrings), Chasney cannot avoid the plain consequences of its contracting through artful argument….”
U.S. f/u/b/o Chasney & Company, 2016 WL at *7, 9 (internal quotations omitted).
Do NOT let this happen to you. Preserve your rights and claims and do NOT waive and release claims you are NOT prepared to release!
Please contact David Adelstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.