Roofer Obtains 4.529 Million Dollar Verdict Against Contract Manager

On February 1, 2000 a Baltimore City jury awarded A-1 Roofing, Inc., a Baltimore County roofing contractor, and its president, Gordon Jenkins, $4,529,000.00 against a contract monitoring company and one of its inspectors. The verdict included 1.6 Million Dollars awarded to Mr. Gordon Jenkins on a defamation count, which is one of the largest defamation verdicts ever awarded to an individual in the State of Maryland. The roofing contractor and Mr. Jenkins were represented by Stephen A. Markey, III and the Law Offices of Stephen A. Markey, III, PC.
In the Spring of 1996, A-1 Roofing, Inc., ("A-1") was awarded a contract by the Anne Arundel County School Board ("AACPS") to perform a re-roofing project known as the Severna Park Middle School Project ("the Project"). The total amount of the contract was $612,665.00. Gale Associates, Inc. ("Gale") contracted with the AACPS to be the architect, design, and contract monitor for the roofing work that was to be performed by A-1. Gregory Cove ("Cove") was an employee of Gale Associates, Inc., and was the on-site inspector on the project for Gale and AACPS. Pursuant to the contract, Gale acted as the agent for AACPS.
The contract between A-1 and AACPS provided that work would begin within ten days of A-1's receipt of a "Notice to Proceed" and required completion within 120 days from the date of the Notice to Proceed. The project was originally estimated to begin on or about May 20, 1996 with a completion date estimated to be mid September, 1996. Ultimately the start date was delayed until after school was out for the summer and a Notice to Proceed with a start date of June 17, 1996 was suppose to be issued. Unfortunately, an AACPS employee mistakenly used the initial estimated start date and prepared a Notice to Proceed dated May 17, 1996 with a start date of May 20, 1996 when preparing the contract documents. A-1 was not immediately forwarded a copy of the erroneous Notice to Proceed, but did receive a copy after an inquiry was made by A-1 regarding receipt of its contracts so it could obtain its bonds. On June 3, 1996 a copy of the erroneous Notice to Proceed was faxed to A-1. Some time after June 3, 1996 it was realized by AACPS that the Notice to Proceed contained the wrong date. At that point an attempt to correct the Notice to Proceed was made with the corrected date of June 17, 1996 being put on the Notice to Proceed. This corrected date made the date for completion of the project within 120 days from June 17, 1996 or on or before October 14, 1996 plus additional days which might be applicable because of inclement weather. A-1 never received the June 17, 1996 Notice to Proceed. The jury found that Gale received a copy of the corrected Notice to Proceed and was aware that the contract completion date was mid October. Despite having the corrected Notice to Proceed, Gale continued to operate on the project as if the May 17, 1996 Notice to Proceed governed the 120 day completion requirement. The jury also found that Cove and Gale intentionally slowed the process of A-1, required unnecessary remedial work, harassed and defamed A-1 and its employees and improperly recommended termination. Eventually, Cove recommended that A-1 be terminated from the project for failure to meet progress schedules. AACPS terminated A-1 after Mr. Cove's recommendation. A-1 went out-of-business after termination.
At the time of A-1's termination from the contract, A-1 was under a contractual obligation to arbitrate any claims it had against AACPS, arising out of or as a result of the contract, with AACPS. The contract specifically stated, absent a separate agreement, that claims against the architect or its employees could not be joined with claims against AACPS.
Following the termination of A-1, A-1 and AACPS submitted to binding arbitration and A-1 was found to have been wrongfully terminated and was awarded $343,000.00 against AACPS. The award for damage represents $226,310.88 for work completed prior to termination, and the balance was for lost profit and expenses. A-1 then brought separate claims against Gale and Cove for intentionally interfering with its contract with AACPS and Gordon Jenkins brought a claim against Gale and Cove for defamation.
Following a three week trial before the Honorable John Prevas, Circuit Court for Baltimore City, the jury awarded A-1 Roofing $2,900,000.00 for intentional interference with contract for its losses and $1,900,000.00 to Mr. Jenkins for defamation. The jury also awarded $29,000.00 to A-1 Roofing and Mr. Jenkins in punitive damages finding that the defendants' actions were intended to injure A-1 Roofing and Mr. Jenkins. Following an appeal by the defendants, the parties settled for a confidential amount.

Copied to clipboard