One of the most challenging claims to prove is a lost productivity or inefficiency claim.  There is an alluring appeal to these claims because there are oftentimes intriguing facts and high damages.  But the allure of the presentation of the claim does not compensate for the actual burden of proof in proving the lost productivity or inefficiency claim, which will require an expert.  And they really are challenging to prove.

Don’t take it from me.  A recent Federal Claims Court opinion, Nova Group/Tutor-Saliba v. U.S., 2022 WL 815826, (Fed.Cl. 2022), that I also discussed in the preceding article, exemplifies this point.

To determine lost productivity or inefficiency, the claimant’s expert tried three different methodologies.

First, the expert looked at industry standard lost productivity factors such as those promulgated by the Mechanical Contractor’s Association.  However, the claimant was not a mechanical contractor and there is a bunch of subjectivity involved when using these factors. The expert decided not to use such industry standard factors correctly noting they provide value when you are looking at a potential impact prospectively, but once you incur actual damages and have real data, it is not an accurate measure.

Second, the expert tried the preferred methodology – the measured mile approach. The expert testified: “[T]he measured mile approach is an approach where you look at an unimpacted piece of the work to find out what it actually took to do that piece, and you compare it to the impacted production to see if you had a production loss, and you can measure that loss.Nova Group, supra, at *50.  The expert, however, elected not to use this approach due to the limited data he had to make this an accurate methodology.

Lastly, the expert tried and implemented the modified total cost methodology finding it to be the most appropriate methodology to capture the claimant’s lost productivity damages in the context of the claim.

A total cost method determines damages by taking “the difference between the actual cost of the contract and the contractor’s bid. This method is disfavored by courts “because of concerns about bidding inaccuracies, which can reduce the contractor’s estimated costs, and performance inefficiencies, which can inflate its actual expenditures.” “The modified total cost methodology addresses some of the objections to the total cost method” by adjusting for possible inaccuracies. 

The modified total cost method requires the contractor, typically through an expert, to prove: (1) the impracticability of proving actual losses directly; (2) the reasonableness of its bid; (3) the reasonableness of its actual costs; and (4) its lack of responsibility for the added costs.

Nova Group, supra, at *51 (citations omitted).

The government (opposing the lost productivity claim) countered that the claimant failed to prove these factors. In particular, the government argued that the claimant did not prove the reasonable of its costs or its lack of responsibility for its added costs. In doing so, the government relied on testimony of its own expert that addressed factors that went into the claimant’s cost overrun.   The Federal Claims Court agreed that the claimant failed to prove the required factors to utilize a modified total cost approach: “Plaintiff has not met its burden of providing modified total cost damages, in particular, Plaintiff’s lack of responsibility for lost productivity costs….”  Nova Group, supra, at *52.

When presenting a lost productivity or inefficiency claim, it is imperative that an expert is utilized.  While the claimant’s expert did the right thing by analyzing different lost productivity methodologies, by failing to fully and completely address all of the factors to sustain the modified total cost approach, the lost productivity claim failed because the burden of proof was not met.

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



UnknownWhat is a lost productivity / inefficiency claim?  These are claims where a contractor claims it incurred increased labor (and, perhaps, equipment usage) because an event  (referred to as an impact) caused it to work inefficiently.  There needs to be a causal link between the cause of the impact and the increased labor costs.  See Appeals of—Fox Construction, Inc., ASBCA No. 55265, 08-1 BCPA 33810 (March 5, 2008).   Numerous factors can contribute to a contractor working inefficiently.  Oftentimes these claims are asserted by subcontractors associated with a delay to their scope of work or due to the manner in which the subcontractor’s work was sequenced.  The bottom line is that some impact (not attributable to the contractor asserting the claim) caused the contractor to work inefficiently and incur unplanned, increased labor cost (and/or equipment usage).


Lost productivity / inefficiency claims are very challenging claims to prove and calculate.  They require expert testimony to analyze cost reports, labor hours, and project documentation such as daily reports, etc. to determine the performance or production rate for a given scope of work.   But, remember, lost productivity / inefficiency claims also require a causal link between the impact and the increased costs meaning an expert needs to analyze project documentation to determine the impact and the causal link to the contractor’s increased costs.  Probably the most well received method to prove lost productivity / inefficiency is the measured mile methodology.


Measured Mile


The measured mile compares a period of productive work (the good period) with an unproductive period of the same work (bad period). “The measured mile approach provides a comparison of a production period that is impacted by a disruption with a production period that is not impacted.” Appeal of Bay West, Inc., ASBCA No. 54166, 07-1 BCA 33569 (April 25, 2007).  The period of productive work forms the contractor’s benchmark period of productivity.  Typically, this benchmark productivity is based on the number of man-hours during the productive period divided by the performance or production rate in that period to determine a productivity ratio.  This productivity ratio is compared to the productivity ratio during the impacted period in order to determine an unproductivity ratio that is multiplied by the unproductive performance or production rate to determine the number of unproductive man-hours.  Without determining a benchmark, the measured mile cannot be performed because there is nothing to compare the unproductive period of work to.


For instance, let’s take a rough hypothetical: 


Good Period — A contractor during a productive period installs 2500 feet  (or select another unit of production or performance) of “x” (you select the scope).  It takes the contractor 4000 labor hours to install 2500 feet of “x.” The number of labor hours (4000) divided by the production (2500 feet of “x”) gives a productivity ratio of 1.6. 


Bad Period — The same contractor gets impacted performing the same scope of “x.”  During this impacted period, the contractor installs 1500 feet of “x” with 4600 labor hours.  The number of labor hours (4600) divided by the production (1500 feet of “x”) gives a productivity ratio of 3.07. 


Calculating Lost Productivity — Subtracting the productivity ratio during the bad impacted period (3.07) with the productivity ratio during the good unimpacted period (1.6) gives an unproductivity ratio of 1.47.  This unproductivity ratio now allows you to determine the number of unproductive man-hours by multiplying the unproductivity ratio (1.47) by the unproductive performance (1500 feet of “x”) to give you 2205 unproductive man-hours.  The number of unproductive man-hours would then be multiplied by a supported labor rate plus burden to give you your unproductivity costs.


If you are experiencing lost productivity / inefficiency, it is good practice to consult with a lawyer and expert in order to best prove and calculate your lost productivity / inefficiency.  Although this article focuses on the measured mile methodology, there are other methodologies that can be utilized based on the facts and circumstances of the project.    Just remember, these types of claims generally require expert testimony to prove.


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



imagesSubcontractor delay claims are oftentimes in the form of lost productivity / inefficiency claims.  These claims are premised in large part on additional, unanticipated field labor / manpower or equipment usage that was incurred due to an event that impacted the subcontractor’s performance. 


One way a subcontractor proves these damages is through a total cost or modified total cost method comparing its actual costs to its bid, with a portion of the cost overrun forming the subcontractor’s damages. This methodology, however, is not always a favored methodology because it is not the most reliable way to prove cost overruns.  Courts typically prefer parties to itemize the direct costs incurred by an impact, but this is not always practical on a complex construction project.


The opinion in Hill York Service Corp. v. Critchfield Mechanical, Inc., 2015 WL 410009 (S.D.Fla. 2015) illustrates the challenges in proving lost productivity / inefficiency with the total cost or modified total cost methodology.  In this case, a mechanical subcontractor subcontracted a portion of its scope of mechanical work to another subcontractor (the “Sub-subcontractor”).   The Sub-subcontractor sued the mechanical subcontractor for delays causing it to incur, among other damages, additional, unanticipated manpower. The mechanical subcontractor moved for a summary judgment to preclude the Sub-subcontractor from using the total cost or modified total cost method to prove its delay / inefficiency damages.


The opinion provides a good discussion on the total cost and modified total cost methodology:


The modified total cost approach is a variation of the total cost approach. Under the total cost approach,  the original bid cost is subtracted from the actual cost of the entire project. Essentially, the difference between the two amounts, after various modifications and adjustments, is the amount of damages incurred as a result of the owner or construction manager’s breach. The modified total cost approach allows for the adjustment of the amount calculated under the total cost approach to compensate for bid errors, specific costs arising from the subcontractor’s actions, and specific costs arising from actions of parties other than the party against whom damages are sought.


A jury may consider the total-cost approach when [1] the nature of the excess costs is such that there is no other practicable means of measuring damages, [2] the original bid was realistic, [3] the actual costs were reasonable, and [4] the plaintiff is not responsible for any of the additional expense. The modified-total-cost approach imposes the same requirements, except that it subtracts any identifiable costs for which the plaintiff contractor is responsible. Thus, to establish the fourth element above, the plaintiff must show that it is not responsible for any of the additional expenses, or has otherwise reasonably accounted for that portion of the total costs for which it is responsible.


Hill York Service Corp., supra, at *4 (internal quotations and citation omitted).


Here, the Sub-subcontractor wanted to use the modified total cost methodology to capture is additional manpower but failed to account for additional manpower and expenses it was responsible for (the fourth factor in establishing the reliability of this methodology).  The mechanical subcontractor was able to establish that there were items caused by the Sub-subcontractor that contributed to the delay and would have increased the Sub-subcontrator’s costs, but were never quantified and subcontracted from the Sub-subcontractor’s damages.  For this reason, the trial court granted the mechanical contractor’s motion for summary judgment preventing the Sub-subcontractor from proving its damages based on this methodology.


If you experienced cost overruns associated with delaying events, it is important to discuss with a lawyer and, depending on the quantum of the damages, a construction consultant in order to best calculate, present, and prove your damages.   Typically, you will want a construction consultant to serve as an expert witness to assist in proving these damages.  Lost productivity / inefficiency claims are challenging damages to prove based on the reliability factors discussed in the case. But, this methodology is used in many instances because it is not always practical to track the direct costs incurred for each event that impacted performance.  Before exploring the total cost / modified total cost methodology, a different methodology known as the measured mile approach should be explored.  Under this approach, the party compares its labor production for a scope of work that was not impacted with its labor production for that scope when it was impacted, with the delta forming the party’s inefficient manpower.  Basically, the objective is to compare productive periods of work (which forms the baseline or measured mile) with impacted, unproductive periods of work to determine the cost overrun for the delaying event.


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