Law School Case Brief
Phillips & Jordan, Inc. v. State - DOT, 602 So. 2d 1310 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1992)
The doctrine of constructibility (or the Spearin doctrine) holds a hiring party liable for unanticipated construction costs incurred due to a latent defect in the project plans or specifications.
Appellant Phillips and Jordan (“P&J”) contractor entered into a contract with appellee Florida Department of Transportation (“DOT”) department of transportation under which P&J was to construct a fence along an interstate highway and to clear and grub a ten-foot wide strip within which the fence was to be located. P&J found it necessary to use clearing equipment with cutting blades wider than the minimum ten-feet required by the contract at some locations; thus, the area cleared sometimes exceeded the ten feet in the project plans. DOT refused to compensate P&J for the additional area cleared and P&J filed a suit which was dismissed pursuant to summary judgment.
Was P&J entitled to additional work it performed outside their contract under the doctrine of constructability?
The reviewing court affirmed, rejecting P&J's assertion that it was entitled to compensation under the doctrine of constructibility because the additional work was not due to a latent defect in the job specifications, but to an equipment requirement that the blades be larger than required. The reviewing court also rejected P&J's argument that the contract should be read as one requiring unit pricing for work actually performed, holding that the only variable contemplated under the job specifications was the length of the area to be cleared, not the width.
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