Jump to Navigation | Jump to Content
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 CLE Workshops

Regional Program Announcement: “Handling a Construction Failures Case” – June 3, 2016
The committee is sponsoring a half-day regional CLE workshop entitled “Handling A Construction Failures Case,”to be held on June 3, 2016, in Philadelphia. It will discuss the legal aspects of handling a construction failure case, focusing on a building collapse during construction as the main model. We will examine the process from start to finish, including securing the project site, interacting with government agencies, preserving evidence, basis of liability, working with experts, and trial considerations. The issues will be viewed from plaintiff, defense, and expert perspectives. Registration is $80 for Litigation Section members, $140 for non-section members. If you are in or near the Philadelphia area on June 3, this is a tremendous opportunity to obtain assistance in handling such a case from noted practitioners and experts.

Regional Program Announcement: “Trying a Construction Case”
The committee is in the process of re-scheduling the one-day regional program entitled “Yes, You Can Try A Construction Case: Planning and Handling a Construction Trial From Voir Dire to Closing Argument” for presentation in San Francisco in the first half of October, 2016. There are still some speaker positions open. If you would like to volunteer for the program, please contact Scott Tate who is chairing the program.

Roundtable Announcement: “What Does The Client Really Want” –
June 8, 2016 (Jointly presented with the Forum on Construction Law)
Please join us for a round-table discussion on “The In-House Perspective: What is the Client Looking for from Outside Construction Counsel”, to be held on June 9, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. We are joining with the Forum on Construction Law to bring this program to our respective memberships. Register for this free program. The speakers, Wendy Venoit (Suffolk Construction Company, Inc., vice president and general counsel, Boston MA) and Tom Nocar (senior attorney at Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur, Columbus OH) will focus on client needs and counsel services to meet those needs. This program will provide valuable insight from counsel who have been on both sides (in-house counsel and outside counsel) of the attorney/client relationship specific to construction litigation and will prove valuable to all those listening in on how to best serve your construction clients and/or in-house counsel, how to best communicate and work with your outside counsel.


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 Green, Sustainability and Regulatory Subcommittee;
One cochair for the Membership, Diversity, and Outreach Subcommittee;

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.

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:

The Construction Litigation Committee wishes to thank Jim Landgraf for his three years of outstanding service as the Committee’s cochair. Under his leadership, the committee accomplished a great deal, including the publication of our recent Model Jury Instructions book and the successful presentation of the first Regional programs by this committee in years. After his regular three-year term ended August 1, Jim became a new cochair of the Real Estate Litigation and Condemnation Committee, and we wish him the best of luck there and look forward to working with his committee. Thank you, Jim.

The good news about Jim’s departure is that we welcome our new cochair, Jeanne Barnum. Jeanne has been active as a vice chair and in other roles with the committee for several years. In particular, she (along with Karen Layng) has led our committee’s fruitful relationship with the Construction SuperConference for the past several years. Jeanne is excited to serve the committee through this new position.

Planning Call
With the new ABA year having begun August 1, the committee is looking to plan its activities for the year. The Section of Litigation is holding a meeting in October at which the committee will lay out its objectives. In anticipation of that, we want to hear from you!  To that end, we will hold a committee-wide conference call on September 8, 2016, at 4 p.m. EDT.  Call-in details will be forthcoming, but for now please hold that slot on your calendars.

West Coast Regional
Following on the success of our program in New York, “Yes You Can Try a Construction Case: Planning and Handling Construction Cases from Voir Dire to Closing Arguments,” the committee plans to hold the same program in San Francisco on Friday, January 27, 2017. We hope to see our committee members from the West Coast there! There are still a few speaker slots open. If you’re interested in participating, please contact our chair for that program, Scott Tate.

For the balance of this year, and heading into the 2016-2017 ABA year, we are looking for newsletter articles. Our next issue is scheduled to be published in October, so we are gathering articles now. If you have ideas please reach out to Bob Cox or Eric Sparks.

Round Tables and Sound Advice
We are always interest in presenting more Round Table conference calls and Sound Advice recordings on matters of interest to construction litigators. If you have interest in participating in either or if you have any ideas for either, please contact Jeanne Barnum or Dave Kurtz.

We look forward to another great year with the Construction Litigation Committee.

Jeanne Barnum and David Kurtz

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 Cochair Newsletter Editors

Jeanne Barnum

Cherry Hill, NJ

M. David Kurtz

New Orleans, LA

Karen Layng

Countryside, IL

Web Editor
Michael Zicherman

River Edge, NJ



Bob Cox

Tysons Corner, VA

Eric Sparks

Chicago, IL