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Practice Areas

The litigation team at Lax & Stevens has a broad base of experience representing clients in a variety of construction matters. Our areas of practice include:

bullet Federal Government Projects
bullet State Government Projects
bullet Local Government Projects
bullet Public School Construction Contracts
bullet Civil Projects
bullet Hospitals
bullet Office Buildings
bullet Bid Protests
bullet Employment / Labor Relations
bullet Defense of False Claims Allegations

Federal Government Projects

Included in our experience are cases in the Federal District Courts, United States Court of Federal Claims and the appropriate Board of Contract Appeals. While we work most often on behalf of general contractors, we have tried Miller Act cases and are familiar with the law governing those actions. In a recent trial, we successfully represented a subcontractor with a claim based on numerous design changes. Clients have relied on us for expert representation on a wide range of construction issues.

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State Government Projects

Lax & Stevens attorneys have had outstanding success resolving claims against the State of California. Many of these claims are covered by the State Contract Act and, therefore, must be pursued under the procedures of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) under the Public Works Arbitration Regulations. A firm with specialized experience in this forum is a key to success.

We have expertise and years of experience with all aspects of the process under the OAH. In particular, our experience with the panel and with choosing an arbitrator—one of the most important steps in the process—is invaluable to our clients.

Over the years, our attorneys have handled almost every issue that can arise in the public contracting setting, including bid protests, contract administration issues, prosecution and defense of claims. We have managed dozens of claims for contractors against the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and other agencies.

These claims have included issues from landscaping contracts to new highway construction and construction of new level III prisons. Most of the time, the matter resolves prior to the hearing. However, we have taken many claims all the way through the arbitration process. Having judgment entered on the award and handling appeals.

Lax & Stevens has the distinction of having won the largest award ever made to a contractor in an OAH proceeding (in a case arising from a contract with the California Department of Corrections). In addition to the award on the claim, our client recovered a substantial portion of the attorneys’ fees incurred in that case. We take particular pride in the planning and strategy in that case, which enabled our client to take advantage of a provision of the Public Contract Code that allows a successful claimant to recover attorneys’ fees.

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Local Government Projects

Lax & Stevens has represented contractors in cases against a wide range of local government entities, including the city of Los Angeles, special assessment districts and public housing authorities. We are well-versed in the provisions of the California Public Contract Code, federal statutes and the Federal Acquisition Regulations, as well as local ordinances, charters and regulations that can affect our clients’ rights and liabilities.

Dealing with government entities can be complicated. Without proper legal counsel, a contractor may not have a mechanism to collect for his or her efforts, or to enforce the promises of the public owner because of special regulations or requirements. In addition to its other services, Lax & Stevens assists clients with pre-planning at the beginning stages of a project to avoid problems in the execution of the work, and—just as important—surprises when the client attempts to collect for its services.

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Public School Construction Contracts

The body of law governing public school construction contracts is in a state of flux. School districts now have new project delivery options. Lax & Stevens attorneys possess substantial background knowledge in dealing with alternative delivery models. This portion of our practice involves both the litigation skills and the negotiation skills we can bring to bear on behalf of our clients.

With billions of dollars scheduled to be spent on school construction—both new projects and renovation—our firm is well-suited to advise clients on what can and cannot be done in school district contracts, particularly in the area of project labor agreements (PLA). Our experience includes offering advice and counsel in disputes for contractors or construction managers who have suddenly been subjected to union requirements.

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Civil Projects

Over their combined years of practice, Lax & Stevens attorneys have represented a number of general contractors on a range of civil projects, including oil refineries, power plants, hydroelectric dams, solar generation plants and more. We have also assisted clients dealing with before the public utility commissions in the areas of procurement, regulatory matters, and prudence audits.

Our attorneys have managed cases all the way through verdict or award in a wide variety of venues, including state court, federal court, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Board of Contract Appeals, the State Office of Administrative Hearings and private arbitration.

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Hospital construction is a significant specialty among contractors, and Lax & Stevens has developed a specialty in this field to support them. We represent hospital contractors with a range of services, such as consultation, participation in dispute resolution during the project and management of litigation against both hospitals and subcontractors. We are familiar with the special challenges posed by hospital construction, including the complexity of hospital MEP systems and OSHPD regulations.

Our experience in this specialized field of construction includes assisting the general contractor of a $300 million medical center replacement project for San Bernardino County and providing consultation services to the joint venture group that constructed the Los Angeles County Medical Center.
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Office Buildings

Lax & Stevens has successfully handled a number of cases related to construction of commercial buildings—high-rise, low-rise, and public projects—including public and private office buildings, courthouses, police stations and fire stations. Our experience in disputes involving these structures includes representing contractor clients in defect cases, such as water intrusion, mold cases other types of alleged construction defects. We also have substantial success in pursuing recovery on extra work and delay claims for contractors against both public and private owners.
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Employment / Labor Relations

Lax & Stevens is skilled in the intricacies of employment cases and disputes involving prevailing wage issues and related matters. We have defended a number of our construction industry clients in wrongful termination, discrimination and sexual harassment claims. Our attorneys have experience dealing with the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement and the U.S. Department of Labor on wage and hour issues, prevailing wage matters and Davis-Bacon requirements. We can advise and represent clients regarding interactions with enforcement agencies, owners, subcontractors and employees.
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Defense of False Claims Allegations

It is becoming common for public entity owners use federal and state false claim statutes to deter contractors from pursuing legitimate claims for unpaid compensation on public projects. Lax & Stevens has developed a strategy, including specialized pre-trial discovery and motion practices, that minimizes the risk of pursuing a claim in the face of a false claim cross-complaint from the public entity owner.

Paul Lax is recognized as a leading authority in the area of false claims litigation and has conducted seminars for attorneys and construction professionals on how to avoid false claims cross-complaints and how to handle such complaints when they are asserted.

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The materials available on this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Lax & Stevens and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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