On appeal from Superior Court, Law Division, Essex County whose opinion is reported at 157 N.J. Super. 357 (1978).
Bischoff, Milmed and Francis.
Plaintiffs Broadway Maintenance Corporation (Broadway) and Edwin J. Dobson, Jr., Inc. (Dobson), appeal from separate final judgments that in part dismissed certain claims plaintiffs asserted against Rutgers, The State University (Rutgers). The controversy arose over the construction of Rutgers Medical School, a proposed two-year project that ran about 25 months behind schedule. Broadway and Dobson claimed that Rutgers was responsible for this delay. The trial judge, in a decision reported at 157 N.J. Super. 357 (Law Div.1978), held that most of the delay was the fault of another prime contractor and not Rutgers. For the reasons expressed below, we affirm the decision of the trial judge.
The facts of this case are fully set forth in 157 N.J. Super. at 364-368. The following is a brief summary of those facts. On October 31, 1966, following the receipt of bids, Rutgers awarded six prime contracts for the construction of its medical school. Of these six contracts three are important in this appeal: the contract for general construction awarded to Frank J. Briscoe Co., Inc. (Briscoe) for $7,392,000; the contract for electrical
work awarded to Broadway for $2,508,650; and the contract for plumbing and fire protection awarded to Dobson for $998,413. The contract documents for each contractor were basically the same. The second paragraph of the Form of Agreement called for the construction of the school to be completed in 700 days and stated time was of the essence. The same provisions were part of the General Conditions, see G4-F.4e and G4-F.1. See 157 N.J. Super. at 368-372. The project, however, ran considerably behind schedule. Numerous problems, most caused by Briscoe, contributed to this delay. These included the backfilling around the foundation walls and column footings with Brunswick shale, the slow concrete pouring of the eight towers, and the lack of temporary heat during the winters of 1967-1968 and 1968-1969. Part of the overrun can also be attributed to Rutgers' late and piecemeal delivery of equipment it undertook to furnish. As a result of these delays Briscoe, Broadway and Dobson filed complaints against Rutgers. On the eve of trial Briscoe and Rutgers settled. The Broadway and Dobson cases were consolidated and a 43-day trial ensued.
The trial ended on June 16, 1975. On January 12, 1978 the trial judge issued a written opinion, and on July 10, 1978 he signed two final judgments. By way of these judgments Broadway and Dobson received damages for some of their claims against Rutgers; for example, Broadway's increased costs of lighting fixtures, and Dobson's inspection and clearance of floor drains and installation of pipe inserts. Both parties received the balance due on their contracts plus interest and damages for disruption in their work due to Rutgers' late and piecemeal delivery of equipment. Similarly, both were awarded costs of suit. The judge, however, dismissed all other claims Broadway and Dobson made against Rutgers. Broadway and Dobson filed separate notices of appeal. The appeals were consolidated.
On appeal both plaintiffs contend that the trial judge erred in ruling that Rutgers did not have a duty to coordinate the work of the six prime contractors. They assert that such a
duty should be implied into these contracts. To support this proposition they rely on cases from other jurisdictions. See, e.g., Paccon Inc. v. United States , 399 F.2d 162 (Ct.Cl.1968); L.L. Hall Construction Co. v. United States , 379 F.2d 559 (Ct.Cl.1966); and Peter A. Camilli & Sons, Inc. v. State , 41 Misc. 2d 218, 245 N.Y.S. 2d 521 (Ct.Cl.1963); Snyder Plumbing & Heating Corp. v. State , 21 Misc. 2d 591, 198 N.Y.S. 2d 600 (Ct.Cl.1960). In the instant case, though, the duty to coordinate the project is governed by the plain language of the contract. The trial judge noted correctly that under the terms of the contract Briscoe was obligated to coordinate and supervise all construction work. The General Conditions, which were a part of all the contracts entered into between Rutgers and the prime contractors, contained a provision stating that Briscoe was to "assume overall and overriding responsibility for supervision, direction, and control of the production and assembly management of the building construction process." G4-L.1b. Briscoe's duty to coordinate was also expressed in G4-N.2:
OWNER'S RELIANCE UPON GENERAL CONTRACTOR: The Owner relies upon the organization, management, skill, cooperation, and efficiency of the General Contractor to supervise, direct, control and manage the General Construction work and the efforts of the other Contractors, so as to deliver the intended building conforming to the Contract and within the scheduled time.
OTHER CONTRACTORS' RELIANCE UPON GENERAL CONTRACTOR: All other Contractors shall rely upon the organization, management, skill, cooperation and efficiency of the General Contractor to supervise, direct, control and manage the General Construction work and the efforts of the other Contractors so as to deliver ...