• Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Breach of Construction Contract

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Breach of Construction Contract
    by Bob Incollingo

    When your people are down sick and you can’t staff the job, will coronavirus excuse breach of contract?

    In the case of Seitz v. Mark-O-Lite Sign Contractors, Inc., 210 N.J. Super. 646, 510 A.2d 319 (Law Div. 1986), a general contractor subcontracted for the restoration and replacement of a neon sign marquee on a construction project involving renovations to a theater.  The general contractor gave the sign subcontractor a deposit check, and they signed an agreement which stated in relevant part: "The Company shall not be liable for any failure in the performance of its obligation under this agreement which may result from strikes or acts of labor union, fires, floods, earthquakes, or acts of God, or other conditions or contingencies beyond its control."  This quoted paragraph is commonly known as a force majeure clause, from the French phrase for “superior force.”

    Within a few days of signing the subcontract, the sign subcontractor discovered that its expert sheet metal worker, a diabetic, had to enter the hospital and would be unable to work for an unknown period of time. He was the only employee capable of performing the expert and detailed sheet metal work required.   More

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