ONEIDA INDIAN NATION v. HUNT CONSTRUCTION GROUP INC

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, New York.

The ONEIDA INDIAN NATION, A Sovereign Nation, Plaintiff–Appellant, v. HUNT CONSTRUCTION GROUP, INC., Defendant–Respondent.

The Oneida Indian Nation, A Sovereign Nation, Third–Party Plaintiff, v. Brennan Beer Gorman/Architects, LLP, Third–Party Defendant.

Brennan Beer Gorman/Architects, LLP, Fourth–Party Plaintiff–Respondent, v. Bertino & Associates, Inc., Fourth–Party Defendant–Appellant, Steven Feller, P.E., Steven Feller, P.E. Inc., Steven Feller, P.E., PL, S. Desimone Consulting Engineers, PLLC, Fourth–Party Defendants–Respondents, et al., Fourth–Party Defendants.

Decided: October 07, 2011

PRESENT:  CENTRA, J.P., PERADOTTO, CARNI, GREEN, AND GORSKI, JJ. Williams & Connolly LLP, Washington, D.C. (Dennis M. Black, of the Washington, D.C. and Maryland Bars, Admitted ProHac Vice, of Counsel), and MacKenzie Hughes LLP, Syracuse, for Plaintiff–Appellant. Sugarman Law Firm, LLP, Syracuse (Samuel M. Vulcano of Counsel), for Fourth–Party Plaintiff–Respondent. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, Washington, D.C. (Jeffrey R. Gans, of the Washington, D.C. and Virginia Bars, Admitted ProHac Vice, of Counsel), and Hancock & Estabrook, LLP, Syracuse, for Defendant–Respondent.

Plaintiff-third-party plaintiff (plaintiff), the owner of Turning Stone Casino & Resort, commenced this action seeking damages resulting from the alleged breach by defendant, Hunt Construction Group, Inc. (Hunt), of its construction contract (contract) with plaintiff.   On a prior appeal, we concluded that Supreme Court erred in denying those parts of plaintiff's motion to dismiss the second counterclaim in part and the fourth and fifth counterclaims, and we therefore modified the order accordingly (Oneida Indian Nation v. Hunt Constr. Group, Inc., 67 A.D.3d 1345, 888 N.Y.S.2d 828).   Plaintiff appeals from that part of an order that denied its motion for partial summary judgment dismissing Hunt's remaining counterclaims to the extent that they seek amounts in excess of the contractual guaranteed maximum price (GMP) as modified by Change Orders or Construction Change Directives executed pursuant to the terms of the contract.   We agree with plaintiff that the court erred in denying its motion, and we therefore modify the order accordingly.

 Article 7 of the General Conditions of the contract unambiguously provides that Hunt would not be reimbursed for any expense or paid a fee for any work that exceeded the GMP unless that expense or work was authorized either by a Change Order signed by plaintiff, third-party defendant-fourth-party plaintiff, Brennan Beer Gorman/Architects, LLP (BBG), the project architect, fourth-party defendant Bertino & Associates, Inc. (Bertino), the construction manager, and Hunt or by a Construction Change Directive signed by plaintiff, BBG and Bertino.   The conduct of plaintiff and Hunt belies Hunt's contention that plaintiff waived that requirement set forth in Article 7 (cf. Austin v. Barber, 227 A.D.2d 826, 828, 642 N.Y.S.2d 972).   Indeed, Hunt continued to seek, and in certain instances was granted, increases to the GMP pursuant to the executed Change Orders and Construction Change Directives (see Charles T. Driscoll Masonry Restoration Co., Inc. v. County of Ulster, 40 A.D.3d 1289, 1292, 836 N.Y.S.2d 362).   Further, the limited authority granted to Bertino pursuant to the contract to act on behalf of plaintiff cannot be interpreted as authorization for Bertino to bind plaintiff to an increased GMP, inasmuch as such an interpretation would render the majority of Article 7 meaningless (see Diamond Castle Partners IV PRC, L.P. v. IAC/InterActiveCorp, 82 A.D.3d 421, 422, 918 N.Y.S.2d 73).

 Bertino also appeals from that part of the order that denied its motion for summary judgment dismissing the fourth-party complaint against it and the cross claims of the other fourth-party defendants, Bertino's subcontractors on the project.   Inasmuch as Bertino's contract with plaintiff expressly requires Bertino to indemnify BBG for any damages resulting from Bertino's acts or omissions for which BBG is found liable, the court properly denied that part of the motion of Bertino with respect to BBG's contractual indemnification claim against it (see Williams v. City of New York, 74 A.D.3d 479, 480, 907 N.Y.S.2d 1).   Finally, Bertino's contention that it is entitled to summary judgment dismissing the common-law indemnification and contribution claims against it is raised for the first time on appeal, and thus that contention is not properly before us (see Ciesinski v. Town of Aurora, 202 A.D.2d 984, 985, 609 N.Y.S.2d 745).

It is hereby ORDERED that the order so appealed from is unanimously modified on the law by granting the motion of plaintiff-third-party plaintiff and dismissing defendant's first and second counterclaims to the extent that they seek amounts in excess of the contractual guaranteed maximum price, as modified by Change Orders or Construction Change Directives, and as modified the order is affirmed without costs.

MEMORANDUM: