Ohio Court of Claims upholds necessity of contractors to provide owners with notice of claims
In Accurate Electric Construction, Inc. v. The Ohio State University, Case No. 2014-00961, 2017-Ohio-1132 (Feb. 15, 2017), the Court of Claims of Ohio held that where a construction contract contains a valid notice provision, it must be strictly followed by the contractor.
The Ohio State University hired Accurate Electric to perform construction work. The agreement between the two parties required Accurate Electric to provide Ohio State with written notice of any and all claims within ten days of the claim arising. Accurate Electric brought a lawsuit against Ohio State; however, Accurate Electric had not met the ten-day notice requirement for its claims. Accurate Electric argued that because Ohio State breached other provisions of the contract, Accurate Electric was not bound by the notice requirements in the agreement. Specifically, Accurate Electric asserted that the ten-day notice period never began to run, because Ohio State failed to issue a Field Work Order and failed to make a determination, in breach of the agreement. The court found no language in the contract to support this and stated that the time period for Accurate Electric to bring its claim could not be indefinite because “there has to be some limit to claims brought related to public construction projects.” The court held that Accurate Electric had waived its claim by failing to provide notice as required by the contract.
Accurate Electric also made a breach of warranty claim, arguing that Ohio State breached a warranty to provide Accurate Electric with a site that was free from hindrance, interference or delay upon which to perform its work, which resulted in extra costs. However, the court determined that this was not a breach of warranty claim but, rather, another breach of contract claim. Again, because Accurate Electric had not provided written notice within ten days as required by the contract, Accurate Electric also waived this claim.
In sum, the court determined that even if Accurate Electric’s allegations related to Ohio State’s potential breaches were true, Accurate Electric was still required to follow the notice provision in the contract, and it did not properly put Ohio State on notice of any claims.Download PDF