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Clipper Pipe & Service, Inc. v. Ohio Casualty Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

June 15, 2015

CLIPPER PIPE & SERVICE, INC., Appellee
v.
THE OHIO CASUALTY INSURANCE CO.; CONTRACTING SYSTEMS, INC. II, Appellant

Argued: April 7, 2015.

Appeal from the Order granting Petition for Certification of Question of Law.

For United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Participants: Marcia Mary Waldron, Esq.

For Ohio Casualty Insurance CO., Contracting Systems Inc II, Appellant: Christopher Michael Curci, Esq., Walter H. Flamm Jr., Esq., Robert Joseph Krandel, Esq., Flamm Walton PC.

For Ohio Casualty Insurance CO., Appellant: Patrick Robert Kingsley, Esq., Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young, L.L.P.

SAYLOR, C.J., EAKIN, BAER, TODD, STEVENS, JJ. MR. CHIEF JUSTICE SAYLOR. Messrs. Justice Eakin and Baer, Madame Justice Todd and Mr. Justice Stevens join the opinion.

OPINION

Page 1279

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE SAYLOR

We accepted certification from the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to determine whether a Pennsylvania statute governing payments to contractors and subcontractors applies in the context of a public works project.

The subject statute is the Contractor and Subcontractor Payment Act,[1] which confirms and establishes certain rights and duties among " owners," " contractors," and " subcontractors" with respect to " construction contracts." 73 P.S. § 502. Within the enactment, " owner" is a pivotal term, given its centrality and pervasive appearance. For instance, " contractor" is defined as " [a] person authorized or engaged by an owner to improve real property." Id. (emphasis added).

Under CASPA, " owner" is defined, in pertinent part, as " [a] person who has an interest in the real property that is improved and who ordered the improvement to be made." Id. § 502 (emphasis added). " Person," in turn, is defined as " [a] corporation, partnership, business trust, other association, estate, trust foundation or a natural individual." Id. (emphasis added).

In 2010, the United States Department of the Navy entered into an agreement with Contracting Systems, Inc. II (" CSI" ), per which the latter served as the general contractor for the construction of an addition to, and renovations of, the Navy/Marine Corps Reserve Training Center in the Lehigh Valley. CSI, in turn, subcontracted with Appellee, Clipper Pipe & Service,

Page 1280

Inc. (" Clipper" ), for the performance of mechanical and heating, ventilation, and air ...


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