Matthew DeVries Blogs

Latest from Matthew DeVries

In a world of texts, email and Siri, you should be careful about the impact of the words you write.  Remember that case where a court found that a string of text messages can form a binding contract? (FYI…it is one of my top five blog posts ever!)  Another court took a similar approach last week, finding that a casually written email by an attorney can constitute a settlement agreement. Although it was a…
Seems like last week I was just celebrating one kid’s birthday and I had to do it again last night!  Oh, that’s right, I have seven kids with two birthdays in September. So, it was not a dream?!?!?!  Although they both got to choose their own family dinner destination, we are going to have one huge cake this weekend…with tons of icing! Owners in Tennessee are celebrating a new law recently passed because they may…
On Saturday, I took the kids to the zoo for a day-long adventure.  Faith’s favorite attraction was the turtle compound that was filled with about 20 slowpokes walking a circle.  Like watching paint dry, we sat on the sidelines as these mini-dinosaurs trekked the park at a whopping .25 mph. When we think of delays on a construction project, the first inquiry is to identify the turtle—the one party holding up progress or causing the…
After a great extended weekend on the beaches of Florida, we embarked upon the drive back to Nashville with six kids.  Despite the clearly defined travel rules, the antagonizing kid was putting his feet on the emotional kid. The creative kid was writing on the seat with markers, while the perfect kid screamed foul.  The lazy teenagers slept. Mom and dad were triggered for eight hours. Many Tennessee contractor’s have felt the same way with the…
Last week during family skate night, my daughter asked me for two quarters to play some Skee-Ball.  I loved playing that game as a kid.  But imagine my surprise when I turned the corner and witnessed her active interference with the rules of the game! (… Truly, you can’t script this stuff…) In construction contracts, “active interference” is a recognized exception to the enforcement of what is known as a “no damages for delay” clause.  This…
Contractors make mistakes with words.  Contractors make mistakes with numbers.  And sometimes, a mistake with words leads to a mistake with numbers. In Clark Construction Co. v. Alabama Highway Department, a highway contractor tried to withdraw its bid on public contract and have its bid bond returned after it made a mistake on a its written proposal.  In its bid submission for a bridge construction project in Mobile County, the contractor had listed a total…
Today’s guest post is by Chris Meyers and Cheri Gatlin, two of my fellow partners at Burr & Forman, LLP.  Chris is a partner and Cheri Gatlin is Chair of the firm’s Construction and Project Development Practice Group. The Group counsels clients throughout the U.S. on safety policies, OSHA and regulatory compliance, contracts, disputes, and all areas where law and construction intersect. “To err is human; to forgive divine.” – Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Criticism.” Last…
We live in a world of e-mails, IMs, texts, Snapchats, Instagrams and the occasional fax.  Although information is transmitted instantaneously in today’s environment, proof of receipt of that information (often called “Notice”) remains subject to some very strict rules imposed by contract, case law or statute. Notice of Claims.  In a recent transportation case involving a personal injury, Department of Transportation v. Jones, the Court of Appeals of Georgia explained the importance of strict compliance…
I forgot how much fun it was playing family board games as a child.  We recently dusted off some of the oldies like Sorry, Life and Monopoly to play with the kids.  I laughed uncontrollably the first time I got to say, “Go directly to jail. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200!” A contractor in North Dakota wasn’t laughing when it was not allowed to pass “Go” and could not immediately collect its…
Sometimes, we avoid doing bad things because of the risk of getting caught.  Other times, we avoid doing bad things because we simply choose to do right things.  Whatever the camp you fall into, a recent government contracts case tells a story that should be avoided when submitting payment applications to the government. In U.S. ex rel. Jesse Sloan v. Waukegan Steel, LLC, an employee brought a False Claims Act (FCA) against his employer for false…