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LARRY ARMBRUSTER AND SONS v. STATE PUBLIC SCHOOL BUILDING AUTHORITY (02/27/86)

decided: February 27, 1986.

LARRY ARMBRUSTER AND SONS, INC., PETITIONER
v.
STATE PUBLIC SCHOOL BUILDING AUTHORITY, RESPONDENT. STATE PUBLIC SCHOOL BUILDING AUTHORITY, PETITIONER V. LARRY ARMBRUSTER AND SONS, INC., RESPONDENT



Appeals from the Order of the Board of Claims in the case of Larry Armbruster & Sons, Inc. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, State Public School Building Authority, Docket No. 532, dated November 9, 1984.

COUNSEL

James J. Riley, James J. Riley and Associates, P.C., for petitioner/respondent.

James R. Clippinger, Caldwell, Clouser & Kearns, for respondent/appellee.

Judges MacPhail and Colins, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.

Author: Colins

[ 95 Pa. Commw. Page 311]

On July 10, 1973, the State Public School Building Authority (Authority) contracted with Larry Armbruster, Inc. (Armbruster) for Armbruster to construct all electrical circuitry on the Wyoming Area Senior High School Project. The Project was financed by the Authority which also contractually guaranteed the quality of all work on the Project.

In August, 1978, after Armbruster had completed a substantial amount of the electrical work, the Authority permitted a subcontractor to apply plaster to the walls of the building. The plaster was applied by the use of high pressure hoses instead of being hand mixed and hand trowelled as required by the Project's plans and specifications. The plaster not only covered over many electrical units installed by Armbruster, but made the walls considerably thicker which hampered further installation of the units.

Shortly after this incident, the Authority issued an order which changed a large amount of the school building's wall coverings from vinyl/plaster to ceramic tile. This was done in the face of a written agreement in which the Authority stated that it would not issue deviations which would change materially the Project's plans and specifications.

The result of the subcontractor's work and the change in wall covering was an increase in the time and cost of Armbruster's performance. The completion date was extended by 24 weeks during which time Armbruster incurred labor and overhead costs as well as supervisory expenses.

[ 95 Pa. Commw. Page 312]

The Board of Claims (Board) found that by allowing the plaster work and by issuing a deviation from original wall covering specifications without notice or analysis of its effect on Armbruster's work, the Authority breached its contract with Armbruster. The Board awarded Armbruster Two Hundred Thirty-four Thousand, Four Hundred Sixty-six Dollars ($234,466.00) in damages plus interest calculated at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum as compensation for out-of-pocket work expenses incurred as a result of the Authority's breach. The Board determined, however, that Armbruster was not entitled to its claimed loss of profits for a loss of business opportunities as a result of the delay in its completion date or loss of the value of its business because neither loss was foreseeable at the time of contract formation. This consolidated appeal followed and we affirm the decision of the Board.

This Court's scope of review in such cases is limited to whether the order of the Board is not in accordance with law or whether there is an absence of substantial evidence to support the findings of fact. Department of Transportation v. Brayman Construction Company, 33 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 485, 382 A.2d 767 (1978).

We find no merit in the Authority's primary contention that the Board erred in its calculation of damages because it used the "total cost" method in determining the amount of damages. The Authority claims that this method is inappropriate because the ...


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