Multi-Prime Contractors Have Right of Action Against Each Other If Made Third-Party Beneficiaries

Broadway Maint. Corp. v. Rutgers Univ., 447 A.2d 906, 90 N.J. 253 (1982)

In this case, two prime contractors brought suit against the university for damages caused by delays in construction.  In the appeal, the Supreme Court of New Jersey looked at three issues:  (1) whether in an instance of multi-prime contractors each prime contract is liable to the other; (2) whether the owner has a duty to coordinate multi-prime contractors; and (3) whether the exculpatory clause in the prime contracts shielded Rutgers from liability.

The court found that each of the prime contractors, absent privity, had a right of action against the other as long as the contract between the owner and each prime contractor made the remaining contractors third-party beneficiaries.  Second, the court found that an owner entering into multiple prime contracts has the obligation to act in good faith to coordinate the various contractors to avoid unreasonable delay, if the owner has not delegated that responsibility to one of the prime contractors.  Finally, the court found that the exculpatory clause shielded Rutgers from all delays, not just reasonable delays.

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