Construction Law

CWM represents owners, architects, general contractors, subcontractors, vendors and sureties in all aspects of construction contracting and dispute resolution, including trials. We have successfully handled cases ranging from design defect claims in fire suppression sprinkler systems to IDIQ contracts involving over $300 million in federal projects.

Our attorneys assist clients before and after disputes arise. We help clients consider critical aspects of their contracts, such as liquidated damages, change order clauses, differing site conditions, pay-when-paid clauses, indemnification clauses and others. We also help our clients plan and establish teaming arrangements on public and private projects.

When disputes arise, we handle negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and litigation in state and federal courts. Our attorneys are experienced with design defects, construction defects, delay claims, mechanic’s liens, performance and payment bond claims, Miller Act cases, change order disputes, indemnity claims, and a host of other matters.

  • Arbitration and Mediation
  • Architect/Engineer Liability
  • Construction Defects
  • Design Defects
  • Government Contracts
  • Marine Construction
  • Mechanics’ Liens
  • Miller Act Claims
  • Payment and Performance Bonds
  • Quantum Meruit Claims
  • Subrogation
  • Surety Bonds
Articles and Presentations

Ryan Snow, Presenter, “Making Sure You Get Paid: Legal Remedies for Problem Projects”, Hampton Roads Utility & Heavy Contractors Association (July 2015)

Ryan Snow, Presenter, “Liability for Construction Defects and Failures” Seminar (Half Moon Seminars, February 15, 2012)

Ryan Snow, Moderator/Presenter, “Intellectual Property Issues in Construction Law” Seminar (VBA, January 20, 2012)

Ryan Snow, Moderator/Presenter, “Legislative Update” Seminar (VBA, July 23, 2011)

Representative Cases


Court quashes arbitration of claims that were outside arbitration agreement

Arbitration clauses in contracts are enforceable, but if a contract allows only certain claims to be arbitrated, then the party desiring arbitration has to prove that it has such a claim.  And in Virginia, the party has to prove it to a judge, not the arbitrator.  CWM attorneys represented the owner when both of these issues were contested in Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority v. Everest Construction Management Group, Inc.

The dispute resolution clause in a construction contract between an owner and a contractor stated that if the contractor submitted a claim for more money or a time extension and the owner denied it, then the contractor had 30 days to challenge that decision by either (1) referring the matter to arbitration, (2) pursuing an administrative appeal, or (3) filing a lawsuit. When the contractor attempted to refer two denied claims to arbitration, the owner sought court intervention to quash the arbitration because (1) the contractor had already pursued an administrative appeal with respect to the first claim, and (2) the contractor waited 242 days to refer the second claim to arbitration. The contractor objected, arguing that only the arbitrator, not the court, could decide whether the two claims were arbitrable. The circuit court in Norfolk disagreed with the contractor, and held that it had the authority to decide if the claims could be arbitrated. After an evidentiary hearing, the court agreed with the owner and quashed the arbitration because neither of the claims met the conditions precedent for arbitration.

The lesson? If a contract says only certain claims can be submitted to arbitration, then courts in Virginia have the authority to determine whether a particular claim meets the contract requirements for arbitration.

CWM wins construction case at trial and defeats liquidated damages counterclaim

May 2015 – CWM attorneys Ryan Snow and Amy McClure won judgment on behalf of a subcontractor in Norfolk Circuit Court against a general contractor on a public construction project that finished over a year late. The general contractor was charged liquidated damages and sought to avoid paying the subcontractor by passing through the LDs as an offset. At trial, Mr. Snow and Ms. McClure successfully proved that the subcontractor was entitled to payment in full on its claim, plus all of its attorneys’ fees and costs, and defeated the general contractor’s counterclaim entirely.

CWM wins $537,000 judgment under successor liability theory

August 2013 – CWM attorneys Ryan Snow and David Hartnett won a $537,000 judgment in Chesterfield Circuit Court against two companies in a case of successor liability based on the “mere continuation” doctrine. The defendant companies had acquired the assets of another company against which CWM already obtained judgment. Mr. Snow and Mr. Hartnett successfully proved that the purpose of the transactions was to hide the assets of the former company, making it judgment-proof, and continue the business under new names. The Court found the new companies a “mere continuation” of the old one and pierced through corporate formalities to hold them liable for the debt.

CWM achives voluntary dismissal of construction case at trial

April 2012 – CWM attorney Ryan Snow obtained voluntary dismissal of a construction case at trial when plaintiff’s expert witness was unable to testify to a critical element of proof. Mr. Snow represented the defendant in the case, which arose out of a contract to replace a foundation system.

CWM succeeds in Virginia Supreme Court

March 2012 – CWM attorneys Ryan Snow and Amy McClure succeeded in the Virginia Supreme Court in a case arising out of a roof repair project. The case involved funds paid to an agent that were seized by the agent’s secured creditor before delivery to a contractor and architect. CWM represented the plaintiff who paid the funds and sued to recoup them under trust principles. The trial court granted judgment for plaintiff. On appeal, the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed in all respects, for the first time recognizing by name the “lowest intermediate balance rule” for tracing funds in a commingled account. Mr. Snow argued the appeal and Ms. McClure assisted on briefs. The case is reported at St. Joe Co. v. Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Auth., 283 Va. 403, 722 S.E.2d 622 (2012)

Representative Clients

Bonding Companies


Equipment and Material Suppliers

Financial Institutions

General Contractors and Subcontractors

Government Contractors

Marine Construction Companies



Industry Links

VBA Image



News and Updates
Crenshaw, Ware & Martin, P.L.C. Attorneys Named to Virginia Business Magazine’s 2017 “Legal Elite”
Posted on November 13, 2017
Crenshaw, Ware & Martin is proud to announce that four of the firm’s attorneys have been recognized by Virginia Business Magazine among Virginia’s “Legal Elite” for 2017.  Each year in…...
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Six Crenshaw, Ware & Martin PLC Attorneys Named to 2018 Best Lawyers® in America
Posted on August 16, 2017
Crenshaw, Ware & Martin PLC is pleased to announce that six of its lawyers have been named to the 24th Edition of Best Lawyers in America. Delphine G. Carnes - Project…...
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Crenshaw, Ware & Martin, P.L.C. Attorneys Named to Virginia Business Magazine’s 2016 “Legal Elite”
Posted on November 30, 2016
Crenshaw, Ware & Martin is proud to announce that five of the firm’s attorneys have been recognized by Virginia Business Magazine among Virginia’s “Legal Elite” for 2016. Steven L. Brinker…...
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Court quashes arbitration of claims that were outside arbitration agreement
Posted on July 21, 2016
Arbitration clauses in contracts are enforceable, but if a contract allows only certain claims to be arbitrated, then the party desiring arbitration has to prove that it has such…...
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Date of Mailing Doesn’t Save Payment Bond Claim
Posted on December 17, 2015
In a case of first impression in Virginia, the circuit court in Norfolk confirmed that the date of mailing is meaningless to satisfy notice requirements on a state law payment…...
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Virginia Business 2015 Legal Elite
Posted on December 1, 2015
The following attorneys have been named “Legal Elite” for 2015 by Virginia Business magazine. C. Wiley Grandy, Young Lawyer Under 40 Elaine Inman Hogan, Labor/Employment Amy Taipalus McClure, Construction W.…...
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WATCH OUT - Virginia tightens policy on contractor licenses as of July 1, 2015
Posted on July 1, 2015
Be careful of your contractor licenses and worker classifications in Virginia. Under a new policy effective July 1, 2015, where VOSH has reasonable cause to believe workers are being misclassified…...
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New statute has power to nullify lien waivers in Virginia
Posted on July 1, 2015
Effective July 1, 2015, any provision of a construction contract or lien waiver that “waives or diminishes” the payment bond or mechanic’s lien rights of a subcontractor, lower-tier subcontractor or…...
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Contractor’s failure to provide project accounting leads to criminal conviction under Va. Code § 43-13
Posted on June 11, 2015
Violation of Va. Code § 43-13 leads to criminal, not civil, liability. Under § 43-13, when a contractor receives money from an owner to pay subcontractors, he cannot use the…...
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Email evidence supports time extension, defeats general contractor’s delay claim
Posted on June 11, 2015
Don’t delete a good email. In United States ex rel. Engineered Services v. T.H.R. Enterprises, a subcontractor defeated a general contractor’s delay claim and won its entire contract balance using…...
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Notice under Virginia’s Little Miller Act must be received by 90-day deadline
Posted on June 11, 2015
Notice that is mailed, but not received, by the 90-day deadline in Virginia’s Little Miller Act is untimely under Virginia law, according to a case of first impression in Norfolk…...
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Crenshaw, Ware & Martin attorneys appointed to new board positions.
Posted on January 1, 2015
Elaine Inman Hogan has been appointed to the 2015 Board of Directors for the Hampton Roads Society for Human Resource Management.  She will serve on the board as the Director…...
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W. Ryan Snow Appointed Chair of Construction and Public Contracts Section of Virginia Bar Association
Posted on January 24, 2014
W. Ryan Snow has been appointed Chair of the Construction and Public Contracts Section of the Virginia Bar Association. Mr. Snow is managing partner of CWM and chairs the firm’s Business…...
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CWM announces eight lawyers selected for inclusion in 2013 Virginia Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars
Posted on May 1, 2013
Crenshaw, Ware & Martin, P.L.C. is pleased to announce that eight of its lawyers were selected for inclusion in the 2013 Virginia Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars lists appearing in…...
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CWM attorney elected officer in statewide construction group
Posted on February 1, 2012
CWM attorney Ryan Snow has been elected an officer in the Construction and Public Contract Law Section of the Virginia Bar Association. Mr. Snow was previously a council member on…...
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