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American Bar Association

Construction Litigation

Construction Litigation Committee


The Construction Litigation Committee strives to bring together litigators who primarily practice construction law. The committee sponsors programs on various topics at the Annual Meetings of the American Bar Association, the Section of Litigation, and the ABA Forum on the Construction Industry. One of the Section of Litigation’s strongest committees, our membership brings together more than 2,100 construction litigators from diverse backgrounds, levels of experience, practices, and geographical areas. The committee offers its members varied opportunities to participate in committee activities ranging from opportunities to simply attend and network at its programs to the ability to substantively participate by publishing articles for the committee newsletter, contributing web content such as News and Development and Sound Advice, speaking opportunities, and leadership roles as active subcommittee members and chairs. It is our goal to provide our members with valuable content, benefits, and mentoring that will support all aspects of professional growth and development at every stage of their careers.


Join this Committee


Regional Program Announcement: Trying a Construction Case

We have rescheduled both the East Coast and the West Coast one-day regional programs.  The East Coast program on “Yes You Can Try a Construction Case: Planning and Handling Construction Cases from Voir Dire to Closing Arguments” will be held in New York City on March 4, 2016.

The West Coast (San Francisco) program will be scheduled for May 2016. Please watch for announcements for the registration information for that program. We thank Mike Gordon and Jori Spangler for their efforts and perseverance on these programs.

We are also in the process of planning a third regional program to be held on June 3 in Philadelphia, focused on handling a construction defects case. We thank Ken Levin for his efforts in developing this half-day program. Program details and registration materials will be issued shortly.


Subcommittee Chair Vacancies

The committee is looking to fill a few remaining vacancies for its subcommittee leadership positions.  Specifically, we are looking to fill the following subcommittee chair positions:

One cochair for the Trial Practice Subcommittee;
One cochair for the Green, Sustainability and Regulatory Subcommittee;
One cochair for the Membership, Diversity, and Outreach Subcommittee;
One cochair for the Publications, Website, Social Media Subcommittee, specifically dealing with the website.

Please contact Dave Kurtz or Jim Landgraf to express your interest in filling any of these positions.


Formation of a New Trial Practice Subcommittee

The Construction Litigation Committee announces the formation of a Trial Practice Subcommittee. Chaired by Ken Levin of Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia, this subcommittee will focus on developing articles, programs, Sound Advice recordings, and on litigation and trial practice involving construction practice issues. We anticipate that Ken and his subcommittee will address specific trial topics and techniques common in construction litigation including delay disputes, termination disputes, payment issues, and defects. They will work on developing further regional programs and roundtables focusing on best practices in handling these topics in court or ADR proceedings, as well as presenting trial technique articles for the website and newsletter for all construction attorneys from the novice to the 30-year practitioner. This is another opportunity for committee members to spread the word of their practice and expertise among our over 2,200 members and others. Please reach out to Ken to volunteer and offer your experience and thoughts as a member of this new subcommittee.


Spring 2016 - Section Annual Conference (April 13-15, 2016, Chicago)

The committee has been approved to present another program at the Section Annual Conference, to be held this year in Chicago. We will be presenting a program entitled, I Paid a Premium For What?: New Insurance Coverage Ideas, New Exclusions, New Interpretations. Given the rapidly evolving issues in insurance coverage within the construction practice, this program should prove to be an extremely valuable opportunity that should not be missed. We thank Randy Garcia and Karoline Jackson for their efforts in developing and presenting this program. There will also be an informal networking dinner meeting for the committee members whoattend the Section Annual Conference. Further details will follow.

Model Jury Instructions for Construction Litigation

Model Jury Instructions

We are pleased to announce that the second edition of Model Jury Instructions for Construction Litigation is prepared to hit the “bookstores” any day, now! Updating the original book published in 2001, this edition supplies modifications to charges where the law has changed, and provides additional caselaw support where courts have issued new opinions and states that have now taken an opinon. As with the original edition, the instructions in this book have been prepared to allow construction litigators to present proposed instructions to the judiciary that either track verbatim these model instructions or are based upon the instructions.

These models accurately and impartially present the elements and critical definitions of construction law in language that is understandable and familiar to the average juror. The instructions allow for easy adaptation to particular cases or points. The instructions cover: contract formation, contractor’s obligations prior to bidding, bidding, implied terms of contract, changes and extra work, breach of contract, other types of claims, architect and professional liability, defenses, and damages general securities law, strict liability, negligence, fraud, accountants’ particular liability.

Get Involved

Involvement in our committee is a great way to keep your practice up-to-date and get more involved in the Section of Litigation. In addition to seeking contributions to our newsletter and website, we are looking for help with our subcommittees. If you think you might be interested in contributing an article, news & development, or case note; joining a subcommittee; or getting involved in leadership, please let us know.

Construction Litigation: Fall 2015 Newsletter

The latest edition of the Construction Litigation newsletter is now available.

Message from the Chairs

Dear Construction Litigation Committee Members:

As we move into the second half of the 2015-2016 bar year, we have not accomplished all of the items that we had initially planned, but we have had some significant successes. The committee’s proposal for a program at the Section Annual Conference has been successful, and we presented six programs at the Construction Super Conference held on December 7-9, 2015, in San Diego. We thank the committee vice cochairs, Karen Layng and Jeanne Barnum, as well as their numerous speakers, for all the efforts in making our involvement with the Super Conference a success, again. We were also actively involved in the presentation of the plenary session entitled, “Our Project Manager (and Key Witness) Just Left For Our Biggest Competitor!” held at the Forum on the Construction Industry’s Winter meeting. We have published additional Sound Advice audios and invite you to tune into those valuable resources.

On March 4, we are presenting the long-awaited regional program in New York City entitled “Yes You Can Try a Construction Case: Planning and Handling Construction Cases from Voir Dire to Closing Argument.s” A second program entitled “Handling a Construction Failures Case” is planned for June 2016 as a half-day regional program to be held in Philadelphia. We thank Michael Gordon and Ken Levin for their efforts in developing and overseeing these programs, respectively.

We published the Fall 2015 newsletter and are in the process of gathering final articles for the Spring 2016 newsletter. We are additionally looking forward to round table programs on the new American Arbitration Association rules and dealing with green and sustainable construction.

Finally, we invite all of you to join us at the Section Annual Conference from April 13-15 in Chicago. We will be presenting the insurance coverage program (chaired by Ray Garcia and Kara Jackson) on Thursday April 14 entitled “I Paid a Premium For What?: New Insurance Coverage Ideas, New Exclusions, New Interpretations.” On Wednesday, April 13, after the welcoming reception, we plan on hosting a dinner for our members and ask that you contact either of us to express your interest in participating at that dinner. We also plan on holding a breakfast business meeting on April 14, a lunch networking meeting on April 15 to go over the continuing plans and activities of the committee, and we will be participating in the Committee Expo at 4:30 pm on April 14.

We have recently circulated a survey asking for your responses regarding future involvement with the committee and its subcommittees. If you have not yet taken the opportunity to complete and submit that survey, please do so. One of the primary benefits of membership in the committee is the ability to exchange ideas and expertise among the members. Active participation in the subcommittees, writing articles, participating as a speaker, developing sound advice programs, and the like provide our members with excellent educational and networking opportunities and the ability to share their experience and interests. Please ramp-up your activity level by taking advantage of the committee activities and opportunities so that you, the committee, and its members continue to grow and benefit.

We look forward to seeing you in Chicago and at the regional programs and to working with you over the balance of this bar year. As always, we welcome any of your comments or suggestions.

David Kurtz and Jim Landgraf

Cochairs, Construction Litigation Committee



Minutes from Committee Meetings



Our active subcommittees include:

  • Courts, In-house Counsel, and Liaison to ABA Forum and ABA Sections
  • Damages, Defects, Scheduling and Experts
  • Green, Sustainability, Regulatory
  • Insurance and Surety Claims


  • Mediation, Arbitration, Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Membership, Diversity and Outreach
  • Professional Education and Ethics
  • Publications, Website, Social Media

Find contact information for committee and subcommittee chairs:




Construction Litigation Leadership

Cochairs Vice Cochairs Newsletter Editors

James Landgraf

Cherry Hill, NJ

M. David Kurtz

New Orleans, LA

Jeanne Barnum

Cherry Hill, NJ

Karen Layng

Countryside, IL

Web Editor
Patrick J. Greene, Jr.

River Edge, NJ



Bob Cox

Tysons Corner, VA

Eric Sparks

Chicago, IL