I-35E Trial Team Wins Precedent-Setting $78M Design-Build Highway Case

After a month-long trial, two ENR Top 5 Engineering Firms represented by Macdonald Devin’s Architects & Engineers Team (Greg Ziegler, lead counsel; Bill Gardner, second chair) won a verdict against three ENR Top 5 Design-Build Firms in an alleged $78 million cost overrun and disruption claim involving expansion of the 28-mile corridor of I-35E from I-635 in Dallas to US 380 in Denton. The two design firms were awarded $4.9 million in unpaid fees that the contractors had withheld as an alleged set off for the damages the contractors contended they incurred due to quantities increases allegedly caused by differences between the bid phase, pre-award design and the post-award, final design. The case is believed to be the first verdict arising out of a public trial involving a design-builder suing its sub-consultant designers for cost overruns allegedly caused by differences between the pre-award bid set of plans the contractor claims to have utilized to bid the project and the post-award final set of construction plans used to build the project. The case was tried in Dallas County District Court in Dallas, Texas.