Many people don’t realize what NSCA does behind the scenes for its members (and for the entire integration industry as a whole). For example, we’ve been fighting a legal battle on behalf of integrators since 2006.
The case involves a systems integrator member, a general contractor, and the U.S. federal government. Many of the specifics can’t be disclosed (many details are sealed and the settlements are protected by a court order), but it involved a large project with the Port of Houston Authority. General Contractor Zachry Construction Corporation sued Port of Houston Authority for breach of contract. Zachry bid on a wharf project with a plan to build “in the dry” (sealing out water). After work began, however, a plan modification was needed – and the Port of Houston Authority rejected it. Zachry then had to work “in the wet,” which raised costs considerably. Zachry sued the Port of Houston Authority, indicating that the contract didn’t give them the authority to reject a plan modification.
The paragraph below – excerpted from a letter written by Gerard (Gerry) Ittig, an attorney who handles many construction-related legal issues for NSCA members – is all we can share about the case. (You may remember Gerry from his presentations at the Business & Leadership Conference over the years.)
“This was quite an expensive and lengthy fight. The result is the creation of positive law for system contractors, particularly in Texas, but generally in other states that might find the decision to be persuasive. It was nice for the CEO to send the note for NSCA’s brief in support.”
“After 11 years of litigation, two trips to the Court of Appeals, and two trips to the Supreme Court of Texas, Zachry Construction Corporation v. Port of Houston is OVER!! On Sept. 1, the Texas Supreme Court refused the Port’s petition for review. You share an important part in this victory. Thanks and thanks again to NSCA for filing your amicus in support of our case. I’m convinced that your arguments and your support had an impact on the Court. I hope that sometime soon I can express my thanks to you in person. I commend to your reading the decisions of the Supreme Court and the 14th Court of Appeals on our second trip there.”
Here’s what’s important to remember from this landmark case: When integrators do work for the government, they deserve to be paid. This case now sets a precedent for other payment/collection disputes when an NSCA member fulfills obligations and responsibilities on a project.
Your new recourse: Applying the provisions of the Little Miller Act (a type of bond claim or lien waiver) against that project. Then, when the project’s procurement officer says that you can’t file a lien against a state/federal government agency or project, you simply tell them that that may no longer be true – and cite the Supreme Court ruling in Texas.
When working on government projects like airports, transit facilities, courts, and VA hospitals, many NSCA members have experienced frustration due to slow payments or, in some cases, projects that are de-funded partway through. This has created many hardships for members and their employees over the years. We hope that this outcome will give you one less thing to worry about on these types of projects. –Chuck Wilson, NSCA Executive Director
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