Stephanie O’Rourke, a principal in our San Antonio office, was recently called upon to offer her expertise in the construction litigation realm on a case that the Houston Business Journal was covering.
This article centered around unpaid wages for construction companies due to contract disputes. Specifically, a 2009 case between Jacob White Construction and Landry’s where the construction company was owed around $64,000 of unpaid wages related to repairing the Aquarium restaurant in Kemah due to storm damage from Hurricane Ike.
The company filed a lawsuit with the Harris County Clerk against Landry’s. The lawsuit was later decided in favor of Landry’s in 2012 in part because Mickler had signed a lien release after finishing the job, relinquishing further payment.
O’Rourke has this comment as it related to construction litigation:
“Texas contractors and subcontractors should be well informed on the latest construction laws so they’re not tied up in payment disputes that can often lead to costly litigation, construction experts said. For example, a developer or owner cannot require a contractor to sign a lien release for final payment unless they have been paid, according to Stephanie O’Rourke, a principal with Houston-based Cokinos law firm citing Texas Property Code.”
O’Rourke, who specializes in construction litigation and is based in Cokinos Young’s San Antonio office, said contractors should ensure that all change orders are signed prior to starting the work in order to avoid the possibility of litigation.
“One of the biggest areas of litigation is contractors and subcontractors performing the work without a signed change order,” said O’Rourke.
All communication about the changes and additional compensation should be documented and, if sent via email, should be sent with read receipts to confirm communication, O’Rourke said.