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).