Here is a quote from a judge in an order after the bench trial of a complex construction dispute between a prime contractor and subcontractor on a federal project:

The evidence received in this case demonstrates the dynamic nature of complicated construction projects. At every step, the details matter, and coordination and cooperation among the companies tasked with performing the job is essential. Thankfully, as even this case shows, most disagreements that arise as projects evolve are handled during construction, far away from a courthouse, by the professionals who know best how to achieve the ultimate goal of a completed project.

U.S. f/u/b/o McKenney’s, Inc. v. Leebcor Services, LLC, 2022 WL 3549980, *1 (E.D. Va. 2022).

This is a true statement.  A statement that parties should remember as they navigate the nuances of a complicated construction project and dispute.

The facts of the case, however, would hardly be construed as a win for either party. Something else for parties to consider as they navigate the nuances of a complicated construction project and dispute.

While there were many components in dispute, one component is worthy of discussion.  That is competing delay claims between the subcontractor and prime contractor.  The prime contractor claimed the subcontractor delayed the critical path.  The subcontractor claimed the prime contractor delayed the critical path.  Both parties had experts supporting their conflicting delay theories.  The question became which expert is more persuasive? Stated differently, which expert is the most credible? Perhaps neither as neither party recovered delay damages against the other.

The subcontractor’s delay expert did not appear to assign much blame to the subcontractor.  The court did not find this to be credible because the evidence demonstrated the subcontractor’s “own shortcomings consistently delayed its work and, in turn, Project completion.”  Leebcor Services, supra, at *25.  The court understood that the subcontractor needed to prove that but for the prime contractor, the subcontractor would not have completed its work late. Yet, evidence demonstrated there was deficient and untimely work performed by the subcontractor. “Because [subcontractor] failed to disentangle its evidence of alleged [prime contractor]-caused delay from delay caused by its own shortcomings, it failed to demonstrate that [prime contractor] was required under the Subcontract to adjust its fixed-price to account for [prime contractor]-caused delay.”  Leebcor Services, supra, at *26.

The court found the prime contractor’s delay expert, while maybe more credible in certain respects, was not more convincing.  For instance, during a period of time, the court found that while the subcontractor may have been behind schedule, “[prime contractor] has failed to demonstrate by a preponderance of evidence that delays to the Project arising during this period are attributable to [subcontractor’s] failure to timely complete [the scheduled activity].  This is because the court concludes that other activities outside of [subcontractor’s] scope of work were delaying the completion of successor activities.”  Leebcor Services, supra, at *28.  In another instance, the court found that “concurrent issues within [prime contractor’s] control also delayed them, and no evidence was offered that would permit the court to disentangle [subcontractor’s] deficiencies from those attributable to [prime contractor].”  Id. at *29.

Remember, many construction disputes require expert witnesses including delay experts.  The expert needs to carry the day on an issue.  To do this, the expert needs to be credible and persuasive.  This case demonstrates why this should not be overstated and why, even with experts, a trier of fact may still find that neither carry the day.


Please contact David Adelstein at or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.




When presenting a delay-type of claim on a construction project, a claimant MUST be in a position to properly PROVE the claim.  Trying to present a delay claim loosey-goosey is not a recipe for success.  In fact, it can be a recipe for an easy loss. This is not what you want.  To combat this, make sure you engage a delay expert that understands delay methodologies and how to calculate delay and do NOT present a total time claim. Presenting a delay claim using a total time approach, discussed below, makes it too easy to attack the flaws and credibility of the approach.  Per the discussion of the case below, a total time claim with a contractor that used its project manager, versus a delay expert, to support its claim turned the contractor’s claim into a loss.

In French Construction, LLC v. Department of Veteran Affairs, 2022 WL 3134507, CBCA 6490 (CBCA 2022), a contractor submitted a delay claim to the government for almost $400,000. The contractor was hired to construct a two-story corridor to connect hospital buildings.  The contractor was required to be complete within 365 days. It was not.  The contractor was seeking 419 days of delay from the government. The contractor’s “delay expert” was its project manager who compared the contractor’s as-planned schedule to an as-built schedule he prepared for the claim.

To show how the critical path of contract performance evolved over the life of the contract and how excusable delays impacted that path, a contractor, at a minimum, needs a reasonable ‘as planned’ schedule and an ‘as built’ schedule, which it can incorporate into an analysis to show ‘the interdependence of any one or more of the work items with any other work items’ as the project progressed.” French Construction, supra (quotation and citation omitted).

Unfortunately, because the project manager was not a true delay expert, there were material flaws in his methodology from a critical path causation standpoint and a calculation of delay standpoint.  Basically, which is a big no-no, the project manager did a total time claim by simply taking the delta between as-planned and actual completion dates and focusing on durations while skipping the causation.

Under the ‘total time theory,” the contractor simply takes the original and extended completion dates, computes therefrom the intervening time or overrun, points to a host of individual delay incidents for which defendant was allegedly responsible and which ‘contributed’ to the overall extended time, and then leaps to the conclusion that the entire overrun time was attributable to defendant. The [total time] theory of proving delay is insufficient to meet the contractor’s burden to prove that government-caused delay actually delayed the overall completion of the project. [The contractor’s project manager] testified about the drawing delays and other problems that delayed demolition of the building without providing a sufficient showing that all the days of delay were attributable to this cause….

The remainder of [the contractor’s] delay claim suffers from the same problem. [The project manager] simply subcontracted the planned duration from the actual duration and identified that as the period of delay. [The project manager], in his report, then generally describes challenges or issues that [the contractor] faced during periods…without any specifics, to those issues.  [The project manager’s] opinions regarding the causes of delay amount to ‘broad generalities and inferences” that are insufficient to carry [the contractor’s] burden to prove compensable delay.

French Construction, supra (internal quotations and citations omitted).

Please contact David Adelstein at or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.



Does a subcontractor need to prove its delay claim (including its lost productivity claim) with expert testimony or a CPM analysis?  A federal decision out of the District Court of Maryland proposes that maybe a subcontractor does not need to go this route. See Baker DC, LLC v. Baggette Construction, Inc., 378 F.Supp.3d 399 (D.Md. 2019). If you are a subcontractor presenting a delay or lost productivity claim, you should work with counsel and ideally an expert to best present, package, and support the claim with expert analysis.   However, this case, discussed below, creates an argument that the use of an expert or even CPM analysis may not be required as a matter of law to support a subcontractor’s delay-type of claim. This is good news for a subcontractor to hear, especially when the subcontractor was not the one that prepared the CPM schedule that included activities unrelated to the subcontractor’s work; and, using an expert and preparing a CPM analysis can be a costly endeavor.

In this case, a concrete subcontractor’s work on a federal project dragged on much longer than anticipated.   The subcontractor sued the prime contractor claiming the contractor delayed and disrupted its work causing its work to be extended and inefficient and costing it more to perform.  The prime contractor moved for summary judgment arguing that the subcontractor cannot demonstrate claims or damages for delay because the subcontractor will not be using an expert or presenting a critical path method (CPM) analysis.  The trial court refused to grant summary judgment on this issue maintaining it is “unwilling to declare as a matter of law [the subcontractor] cannot prove its claim for delay damages without expert testimony or evidence of a CPM analysis.” Baker DC, supra, at 412.

In reaching this decision, the trial court analyzed the purpose and function of a CPM schedule which is to allow “contractors performing complex projects to identify a critical path of tasks that must each be completed before work on other tasks can proceed.” Baker DC, supra, at 411 (quotation and citation omitted).

As one federal court long ago explained, contractors conduct a critical path analysis on a complex construction project by analyzing each of the various separate, but interrelated, small projects within the larger whole, considering the work involved and the expected duration of each subproject. The analysis seeks “to determine the most efficient schedule for the entire project,” recognizing that some subprojects cannot proceed until another has finished its course – for example, “one could not carpet an area until the flooring is down[,] and the flooring cannot be completed until the underlying electrical and telephone conduits are installed.” Subprojects that must be performed on schedule, lest they delay the entire project, are said to be on the “critical path.”

The U.S. Court of Claims has explained:

The reason that the determination of the critical path is crucial to the calculation of delay damages is that only construction work on the critical path had an impact upon the time in which the project was completed. If work on the critical path was delayed, then the eventual completion date of the project was delayed. Delay involving work not on the critical path generally had no impact on the eventual completion date of the project.

Baker DC, supra, at 411-12 (internal citations omitted).

However, while CPM analysis through the use of expert analysis is clearly the preferred or established method, the court noted that this “is not the same as declaring that a plaintiff must provide such evidence, as a matter of law, to prove damages of this variety.” Id. at 412 (explaining that the prime contractor has not produced any cases where a court required a subcontractor to present CPM analysis evidence in its dispute against a general contractor).  This is precisely what the subcontractor wanted to hear!


Another noteworthy issue raised in this case dealt with whether the subcontractor’s bid was part of the subcontract.  The subcontractor wanted to argue it was part of its subcontract because the subcontractor included qualifications in its bid that would be used to support its delay and inefficiency claim.  The prime contractor also moved for summary judgment arguing that the bid was not part of the subcontract because the subcontract contained an integration clause and, naturally, the subcontract contained provisions that would render moot the subcontractor’s qualifications in its bid.  (The integration clause read: “This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties hereto.  No oral representations or other agreements have been by [the prime contractor] except as stated in the Agreement.”  There is a reason lawyers include such language in contracts!  This is important language that should be used and should not be dismissed as unimportant.)  The court agreed with the prime contractor on this issue stating “the parties reasonably understood the written agreement would supersede any prior negotiations or agreements.”  Baker DC, supra, at 409.


Please contact David Adelstein at or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.