Traditionally, public agencies have awarded construction contracts via the “lowest responsible bidder” procurement method, where bidders submit sealed bids and contracts are awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. However, a number of governmental entities have started to award contracts through “best value” procurement, which looks at factors other than price. Quality, experience, and expertise of the bidders also are relevant considerations when selecting contractors or vendors under a “best value” procurement format.

Following the trend, on May 16, 2017, Philadelphians approved a ballot measure that amended the City’s Home Rule Charter to allow the City to award certain contracts based on the “best value” standard, in addition to the “lowest responsible bidder” approach. Shortly thereafter, on July 27, 2017, the City issued regulations governing the award of contracts based on the “best value” method. Continue Reading “Best Value” Procurement Takes Hold in Philadelphia: What it Means for the Construction Industry

Pennsylvania Court Adds ‘Last Month’s Rent’ to Definition of ‘Security Deposit’

As most residential landlords know, the Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act (the “Act”) contains comprehensive and complicated rules and procedures regarding security deposits1. One such rule governs the amount a landlord may collect and hold as a security deposit.  Continue Reading PA Residential Landlords Beware!

On July 26th join Cohen Seglias attorneys Matt Gioffre and Dan Fierstein for their seminar, “Killer Contract Clauses for Construction & Service” for the Mechanical & Service Contractors Association (M&SCA) in Blue Bell, PA. Matt and Dan will explain Killer Contract Clauses, how courts will interpret and enforce them, and will provide best practice tips for managing a project to minimize the impact of these contractual provisions.

Continue Reading Mechanical & Service Contractors Association: Killer Contract Clauses for Construction & Service

We are pleased to announce that eleven Cohen Seglias attorneys were selected to this year’s Pennsylvania Super Lawyers list and eight attorneys to the Pennsylvania Rising Stars list in the areas of Construction Litigation, Government Contracts, Employment & Labor, and Employment Litigation: Defense. The Super Lawyers list recognizes no more than 5 percent of attorneys in each state, and no more than 2.5 percent in each state for the Rising Stars list.
Continue Reading Cohen Seglias Attorneys Selected to the 2017 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers List

In Pennsylvania, it is well-established that a homeowner can assert claims for fraud and violation of Pennsylvania’s consumer protection statute – the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (“UTPCPL”) – against a contractor based upon the contractor’s representations, even absent any contractual relationship between the homeowner and the contractor. Essentially, where a contractor makes a representation on which reliance is “specially foreseeable” and the homeowner relies upon the representation and sustains damages as a result, the homeowner may have a claim against the contractor. This scenario often comes into play where a homeowner asserts a claim against the builder where the homeowner is not the initial purchaser of the home, but rather a subsequent purchaser.  Continue Reading Adams v. Hellings Builders, Inc.: PA Superior Court holds that a homebuilder can be liable for representations made in its promotional materials

By now, you have probably heard enough from us about the new changes to the Pennsylvania Mechanics’ Lien Law. If a newsletter article and several blog posts were not enough, here is one more reminder that the long-anticipated Pennsylvania State Construction Notices Directory is up and running. Already, owners have been active in registering searchable projects. Continue Reading It’s Official: PA Construction Notices Directory Is Up and Running

On January 23, 2017, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed into law a wage equity ordinance that makes it unlawful for an employer in the city of Philadelphia to ask about the wage history of a prospective employee at any stage of the hiring process. Under the new law, an employer may not condition employment on the job candidate’s disclosure of their wage history (which includes fringe benefits) or refuse to hire a candidate because of their refusal to respond to an inquiry about their past wages. The ordinance also prohibits employers from relying on a candidate’s wage history in order to determine the amount that it will offer a candidate unless the candidate has “knowingly and willingly” disclosed such information to the employer during the hiring process. Continue Reading Philadelphia Becomes First City to Prohibit Employers from Inquiring About Prospective Employees’ Past Earnings

The new — and much anticipated — Pennsylvania State Construction Notices Directory (“Directory”) is expected to go live this December 31. With this rollout, the PA legislature will have established a statewide directory system for owners to list projects and create a new lien notice requirement for projects in excess of $1.5 million. The Directory for the Pennsylvania Mechanics’ Lien Law, which was signed into law in October 2014, provides the following important changes:  Continue Reading PA Construction Notices Directory Goes Live December 31, 2016

Engineer with flag on background series - PennsylvaniaContractors doing work on publicly-owned projects in Pennsylvania may find it more difficult to recover statutory penalties and attorneys’ fees if the owner withholds funds in bad faith. Pennsylvania’s Procurement Code, which governs bidding on public projects and payment to prime contractors and subcontractors, is intended to “level the playing field” between government and contractor. Similar, but not identical to the private prompt payment act, the statute provides for the award to the contractor of interest, a penalty in the amount of 1% of the unpaid balance per month, and attorneys’ fees if the public entity acts in bad faith by refusing payment that is due to the contractor. Pennsylvania courts previously interpreted this statute to mean that if a jury determined that the public entity acted in bad faith, then an award of penalties and attorneys’ fees was required.

Continue Reading Contractor Payment Rights on Public Projects affected by PA Supreme Court Decision

Countdown FiveOver the past year, many states experienced budget crises that threaten public works spending and, in some cases, caused entire project shut downs. In Pennsylvania, a stalemate over the budget for Fiscal Year 2016-2017 lasted almost nine months, causing companies and non-profit grant recipients who had contracts with the Commonwealth to suspend their services or temporarily close. In New Jersey, Governor Christie and the legislature deadlocked over taxes, including an increase to the gas tax that would fund the Transportation Trust Fund (“TTF”). As a result, Governor Christie issued Executive Order No. 20, which shut down all construction projects funded by the TTF that were not “absolutely essential for the protection of the health, safety, and welfare” of New Jersey citizens. The Executive Order was issued on June 30, 2016, a list of projects subject to shut down was published on July 6, 2016 and the projects were shut down by July 8, 2016. Continue Reading State Budget Problems Threatening Public Construction Projects: 5 Key Points to Remember