The Supreme Court of Virginia has issued its long awaited notice decision in the Commonwealth v. AMEC Civil LLC case. The result is a pretty painful smack-down of the substantial bulk of the contractor’s claims based on lack of statutory notice. Not surprisingly, the court strictly construed statutory notice requirements for claims against the Virginia Department of Transportation under the umbrella of its historic strict statutory construction rules. Notice was deemed a condition precedent. Actual notice, which had originally satisfied the trial court due to lack of prejudice to VDOT, failed to comply with the statute’s requirement for written notice.
What are the take-aways?
- If you think you may be entitled to additional compensation, ask for it in writing and reserve your claim rights;
- Scrutinize your contracts closely for all claims and notice requirements;
- Scrutinize any applicable statutory notice provisions closely as well;
- Do not trust the other side playing along and being fair and taking care of you, that is the path to potential ruin;
- If you have any inkling of of a dispute, make sure you formalize all claims and demands and notices in writing;
- Do not expect project meeting minutes and e-mails to suffice to establish notice.