How the Cumulative Impact Theory has been Defined

Policy on ripped paper

By dealing with extensive changes, there is an unforeseeable impact imposed on the contractor relative to its unchanged or base contract work.

November 30, 2020
David Adelstein - Florida Construction Legal Updates

Largely in the federal contract arena, there is a theory referred to as “cumulative impacts” used by a contractor to recover unforeseeable costs associated with a multitude of changes that have an overwhelming ripple effect on its efficiency, particularly efficiency dealing with its original, base contract work. In other words, by dealing with extensive changes, there is an unforeseeable impact imposed on the contractor relative to its unchanged or base contract work. Under this theory, the contractor oftentimes prices its cumulative impact under a total cost approach with an examination on its cost overrun. However, this is not an easy theory to prevail on because there needs to be a focus on the sheer number of changes, causation supporting the impact, and whether there were concurrent impacts or delays that played a role in the ripple effect. See, e.g., Appeals of J.A. Jones Const. Co., ENGBCA No. 6348, 00-2 BCA P 31000 (July 7, 2000) (“However, in the vast majority of cases such claims are routinely denied because there were an insufficient number of changes, contractor-caused concurrent delays, disruptions and inefficiencies and/or a general absence of evidence of causation and impact.”).

To best articulate how the cumulative impact theory has been defined, I want to include language directly from courts and board of contract appeals that have dealt with this theory. This way the contractor knows how to best work with their experts with this definition in mind–and, yes, experts will be needed–to persuasively package and establish causation and damages stemming from the multitude of changes. While many of these definitions are worded differently, you will see they have the same focus dealing with the unforeseeable ripple effect of the extensive changes.

Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at dma@kirwinnorris.com



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