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Scandale Associated Builders & Engineers, Ltd. v. Bell Justice Facilities Corp.

April 4, 2007

SCANDALE ASSOCIATED BUILDERS & ENGINEERS, LTD., PLAINTIFF,
v.
BELL JUSTICE FACILITIES CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Jones III United States District Judge

(Judge Jones)

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

The instant action arises out of a subcontract that Plaintiff Scandale Associated Builders & Engineers, Ltd. ("Plaintiff" or "Scandale"), entered into with Defendant Bell Justice Facilities Corporation ("Defendant" or "Bell"), for work on the construction of the United States Penitentiary/Federal Prison Camp at Canaan, Pennsylvania.

Scandale initiated this action by filing a four-count Complaint against Bell in the Court of Common Pleas of Wayne County, Pennsylvania, on or about September 10, 2003. On October 6, 2003, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal with this Court. That same day, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss Count III of the Complaint, which was granted by this Court's Order of December 5, 2003. (Rec. Doc. 12). Following our December 5, 2003 Order, the following claims remained viable: a breach of contract claim in Count I, a delay and impact costs claim in Count II, and a Pennsylvania Contractors and Subcontractors Payment Act ("PCSPA") claim in Count IV. See 73 Pa. C.S.A. § 501, et seq.

On October 11, 2006, this Court issued an Order denying Bell's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (doc. 47) and Scandale's Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. 49). (Rec. Doc. 76).

Accordingly, from February 12, 2007 to February 13, 2007, and from February 20, 2007 to February 21, 2007, Plaintiff presented its case in a non-jury trial.*fn1 Defendant indicated, during the course of trial, that it intended to file a Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law under Rule 52(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Rule 52 Motion" or "Motion") at the close of Plaintiff's case, and, indeed, it so moved. (See Rec. Docs. 107, 110). Thus, following the close of Plaintiff's case-in-chief, we entered an Order requiring briefing on the instant Motion.*fn2 (Rec. Doc. 108).

In Bell's Motion and the briefing in support thereof, Bell concedes that Scandale is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on its breach of contract claim in Count I, in the amount of $287,307. (See Rec. Doc. 110-2 at 1, 30). However, Bell contends that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Scandale's other claims: Count II's delay and impact costs claim, and Count IV's PCSPA claim. Accordingly, Bell asks that this Court enter judgment in Scandale's favor for the outstanding contract balance of $287,307. (Rec. Doc. 110-2 at 1). Scandale's Brief in Opposition to the instant Motion denies that Bell is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on its claims in Counts II and IV. (Rec. Doc. 111).

STANDARD OF REVIEW:

Rule 52(c) provides that "[i]f during a trial without a jury a party has been fully heard on an issue and the court finds against the party on that issue, the court may enter judgment as a matter of law against that party with respect to a claim . . . that cannot under the controlling law be maintained . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 52(c).

In entering judgment pursuant to Rule 52(c): the court is not limited in its evaluation of the non-movant's case as it would be on a motion for a directed verdict. The trial judge is not to draw any special inferences in the non-movant's favor nor concern itself with whether the non-movant has made out a prima facie case. Instead, the court's task is to weigh the evidence, resolve any conflicts in it, and decide for itself where the preponderance lies.

Giant Eagle, Inc. v. Fed. Ins. Co., 884 F. Supp. 979, 982 (W.D. Pa. 1995) (citing 9A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil 2d, § 2573.1). See also United Techs. Corp. v. Chromalloy Gas Turbine Corp., 105 F. Supp. 2d 346 (D. Del. 2000).

Having considered the sufficiency and weight of the testimony presented at trial, the character and appearance of the witness who testified, the exhibits admitted into evidence, and the briefs submitted by the parties, the Court finds that Scandale is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Count I, and that Bell is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Count II, but not on Count IV. We enter the following findings of fact and conclusions of law as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 52(a).

FINDINGS OF FACT:

1. On or about January 4, 2001, Scandale and Bell entered into a written subcontract agreement ("Subcontract"), whereby Scandale agreed to perform the cast-in-place concrete work on the United States Penitentiary/Federal Prison Camp at Canaan, Pennsylvania ("Project"), for which Bell was the general contractor and the United States of America, through the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), was the owner. The original sum of the Subcontract was $5,413,000. (Rec. Docs. 110-2, ¶ 1; 111, ¶ 1).

2. The Subcontract contains several provisions governing the general process by which Scandale was to be paid:

i. Paragraph 3 conditions Bell's payments to Scandale under the contract upon several items:

If [the] Subcontractor shall well and faithfully fulfill this contract to the satisfaction of the Contractor and Architect, [the] Contractor will pay to the Subcontractor the total sum of FIVE MILLION, FOUR HUNDRED THIRTEEN THOUSAND, DOLLARS AND NO CENTS ($5,413,000.00), for all work and material in place if completed and accepted under this contract; partial payments to be made on account of said total sum, on or about the 5th day following receipt by [the] Contractor, at the rate of 90 percent, of the value of the work erected in place during the preceding month as determined by the Contractor, Owner and Architect and the remaining 10 per cent, within 30 days after the completion and acceptance of the work by the Contractor, Owner and Architect; provided that [the] Subcontractor shall have paid in full all bills for labor and materials and if requested by [the] Contractor shall submit evidence thereof; but at no time shall [the] Contractor be required to make any payments which will reduce the difference between the contract price and the amount paid below an amount sufficient in the opinion of [the] Contractor to complete the work herein provided for. No payment made under this contract shall operate as an admission on the part of [the] Contractor that this contract or any part there of has been complied with nor relieve [the] Subcontractor from liability for the faithful performance of all the terms and conditions hereof. [The] Contractor may retain from monies owing by it to [the] Subcontractor sufficient sums to indemnify it against losses, liabilities or obligations for which, as between Contractor and Subcontractor, the latter is liable under the subcontract. . . .

(Pl.'s Exh. 29, ¶ 3 (emphasis added)).

ii. Paragraph 13 of Supplement "B" provides: "Subcontractor shall sign and return on a monthly basis Waiver Of Lien Forms." (Pl.'s Exh. 29, Supp. "B," ¶ 13 (emphasis added)).

3. The Subcontract also contains provisions governing the conditions under which Scandale's work on the Project could be changed and the compensation therefor:

i. In relevant part, Paragraph 19 provides:

The Subcontractor expressly agrees not to make, and hereby waives, any claim for damages on account of any delay, obstruction or hindrance for any cause whatsoever . . . and agrees that its sole right and remedy in the case of any delay, obstruction or hindrance shall be an extension of the time fixed for completion of work unless and to the extent that ...


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