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Real Property & Development Review

How Far Does Spearin Go?

Posted in Construction

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the 1918 case of Spearin v. U.S. remains one of the landmark construction law cases. In rough terms, it stands for the rule that an owner, by sponsoring a set of plans, makes an implied warranty to the builder that the plans are adequate for their intended purpose.
The exact reach of Spearin in a particular case is the subject of 100s of cases across the country. One of the latest and most interesting is this Ohio opinion which finds in favor of the owner and denies the builder’s monetary claim for impacts and delays allegedly attributable to bad plans.
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The key takeaway from this opinion is the holding that mere defects in the plans are not enough to show a breach of the Spearin warranty and that the sheer number of RFIs does not establish a breach; instead, the builder must show that the alleged errors in the plans prevented the project from being buildable.