Alhambra Unified School District (District) entered into two separate contracts with G. Voskanian Construction, Inc. (Voskanian). The first contract was a relocation contract involving the relocation of numerous portable buildings to the site of the Moor Field campus. Voskanian sought to recover $206,367, including $106,225 in unpaid retention funds and $100,142 for extra work performed. The District eventually issued written change orders authorizing the extra work. The second contract was a fire alarm contract to provide a fire alarm system for the relocated buildings. The District required bidders to submit bids for the fire alarm contract based on the plans and specifications provided at the time of bidding. After the fire alarm contract was awarded, Voskanian discovered that many of the buildings had more rooms than were shown on the plans. Voskanian claimed an additional $39,777 for alarm devices, conduit and wiring needed for these rooms.
The District argued that Voskanian was not entitled to payment for extra work under either contract because an oral directive to perform work could not modify a public works contract. The court held that with respect to the relocation contract, Voskanian was entitled to payment because the change orders were put into writing and ultimately approved by the District's governing Board after the work was completed. Specifically, the court said that "irrespective of the timing of the change orders, the District in fact issued written change orders." With respect to the fire alarm contract, the court held that Voskanian's entitlement to recovery for extra work turned on the fact that the District supplied incorrect plans and specifications. The extra work on the fire alarm contract did not turn upon the validity of any oral modification or the issuance of written change orders. The court awarded Voskanian the full amount of its claim as well as attorneys fees.
The District challenged the authority for an award of attorneys' fees, claiming that there was no contractual or statutory basis for the award. The court held that the award of attorneys' fees to Voskanian was proper pursuant to the terms of the performance bond because the claims of the bonding company and Voskanian were the same, they were represented by the same counsel, their claims were inextricably intertwined, and the cross-complaint sought attorney's fees on the enforcement of performance bond claim.
This article was written by Heather DeBlanc, an attorney with the full service education law firm of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore. Ms. DeBlanc is an Associate in the Los Angeles office and can be reached at (310) 981-2000 or at email@example.com. For more information regarding the information above or our firm please visit our website at www.lcwlegal.com, or contact one of our offices below.
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G. Voskanian Construction, Inc. v. Alhambra Unified School District, Fidelity & Deposit Company of Maryland (2012) ___ Cal.Rptr.3d ___ [2012 WL 1038185].