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Building Better Construction Contracts 2019

Speaker(s): Alison Ashford, Conor Tighe, David E. Suchar, Dwight Larson, Joseph Schuster, Ken Cobleigh, L. Tyrone Holt, Patrick J. O'Connor, Jr., Patrick M. Miller, Robin G. Banks, Simon Block
Recorded on: Dec. 13, 2019
PLI Program #: 252354

Dwight serves as senior vice president and general counsel. He leads Mortenson’s legal department and is responsible for oversight and counsel in the company’s legal affairs and in areas of compliance and corporate governance. Dwight joined Mortenson in 2004.

Prior to joining Mortenson, Dwight served as corporate counsel for Honeywell’s building controls business. He also worked as a construction lawyer at the firm of Leonard Street & Deinard (now Stinson Leonard Street) and as a civil engineer at BRW, Inc. and other consulting firms. Dwight earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Idaho and studied law at the University of Minnesota. He is a licensed professional engineer in addition to being a lawyer.

Patrick Miller partners with clients to maximize value in executing major projects in the ever-evolving construction industry. Patrick is a co-leader of Faegre Drinker's Chicago team.

Patrick is experienced in public infrastructure, design-build and P3 procurement. He serves on the Design-Build Institute of America’s (DBIA) Legal Committee and is one of few lawyers in the nation approved to teach DBIA’s Contracts and Risk course. He has extensive experience with heavy civil and highway construction, P3 projects, and real estate development.

Patrick also represents clients in construction and real estate litigation, helping resolve disputes in Chicago, Indiana and throughout the country. He has represented clients in change and delay claims, construction defect matters, commercial foreclosure and workout litigation, among other issues.

Patrick graduated from Marquette University Law School and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Alison Ashford is a partner in the New York office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP and a member of the firm’s national construction practice.

Ms. Ashford has acted for the full spectrum of stakeholders in large scale public and private infrastructure, and energy, resources and mining projects in the United States and around the world.

She has solid experience in the representation of clients involved in the procurement of public projects, including via public-private partnership, in the sectors of economic infrastructure (rail, aviation, transportation, waste water and desalination projects) and social infrastructure (education, housing and health projects). Key recent achievements include the representation of the design-build joint venture member of the private consortium selected to redevelop the LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal Building in New York and the representation of the design-build joint venture member of the private consortium appointed to develop the James A. Farley Building in New York into the new Moynihan Station.

Ms. Ashford also regularly represents developers (including REITs and joint ventures) and contractors in the drafting and negotiation of project agreements for private commercial, retail, high-rise residential and industrial buildings and facilities. An important recent achievement includes the representation of a large United States-based REIT in the drafting and negotiation of project agreements for the redevelopment of hotel and lodging properties located across the United States and around the globe.

Ms. Ashford represents developers and large contractors within the energy, resources and mining sectors, including on iron ore, gas, methanol, fertilizer, civil and earthworks, manufacturing and pipeline projects. Ms. Ashford also advises investors and developers on renewable energy projects in the United States. A key recent engagement includes representation of the engineering, procurement and construction contractor in the development of the largest fertilizer plant in the United States.

Ms. Ashford is a regular speaker at industry conferences and events in the field of private and public project procurement and has prepared numerous papers and presentations for domestic and international industry publications.

Conor Tighe supports Turner’s and its subsidiaries interests in the Great Lakes, Central and Canadian Regions which consists of 16 separate offices.

Conor’s legal experience includes negotiating contracts between Turner and its clients in a wide range of procurement settings including private public partnership (PPP), design-build, integrated project delivery (IPD) construction management at risk and construction management as advisor roles. In addition to the up-front transactions, Conor assists Turner’s operations and carriers in navigating claims arising from the delivery of the Project and manages out of house counsel in resolving claims in mediation, litigation or arbitration.

Prior to receiving his law license attending night classes at John Marshall Law school, Conor worked in Turner’s operations for 9 years as a field engineer, superintendent and later, in charge of Turner’s cost accounting department in Chicago.

In addition to Conor’s role with Turner, Conor also sits on the Design-Build Institute of America’s drafting committee.

David Suchar regularly represents clients in construction and insurance coverage disputes, government and internal investigations, and a variety of commercial litigation. In the Who's Who Legal worldwide ranking of construction law "Future Leaders," David was one of three ranked practitioner from the United States, described as "an impressive trial lawyer whose practice spans the spectrum of construction matters from insurance to payment claims." Chambers USA construction rankings published client commentary noting David’s strengths in “mastery of insurance, understanding the construction industry, exceptional writing skills and aggressive negotiation.” As a former federal prosecutor, David has been fortunate to take on a variety of unique and sophisticated legal work outside of the construction space as well. David worked closely with Maslon partner Steve Schleicher representing the state of Minnesota in its prosecution of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, helping to coordinate the state’s cross-examination on use-of-force issues.

David has developed a niche national practice representing commercial policyholders in insurance coverage disputes, including on many of the largest construction projects and claims across the United States. Recent matters include the LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal Reconstruction Project (NYC); Las Vegas Raiders (Allegiant) Stadium Project; Second Avenue Subway Project (NYC); claims on Millennium Tower, Transbay Transit Center and Salesforce Tower (San Francisco); the Florida International University bridge collapse (Miami); and the NSA’s Utah Data Center Project. He frequently presents at conferences across the country on construction and insurance coverage issues, drawing from his experience on the Steering Committee for the ABA Forum on Construction Law's Division 7 (Insurance, Surety & Liens) and as contributing editor of The Construction Lawyer, the flagship ABA construction publication.

Before joining Maslon, David served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice and successfully represented the United States as lead counsel in hundreds of contested hearings in federal district court and oral arguments in the United States Court of Appeals. Prior to his DOJ service, David was a member of the litigation practice group at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago. In between college and law school, David served as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer and grant writer at Habitat for Humanity. He received his law degree, cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center (2002), where he served as executive editor of the American Criminal Law Review.

Joseph Schuster is a structural engineer with over 12 years of experience. His career has included a broad range of projects, including the structural design of new buildings, the renovation and adaptive reuse of existing buildings, and the design of repairs for deteriorated structures. Mr. Schuster joined Thornton Tomasetti in 2018 and currently leads the forensics practice in TT’s Newark office, where his work focuses on the investigation of failed structural systems. He routinely consults with attorneys on adjacent construction issues, reviewing access agreements and investigating damage at buildings that neighbor construction sites. Mr. Schuster is a member of the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) Codes and Standards Committee and he is the co-author of AISC’s “Rehabilitation and Retrofit Guide, 2nd Edition” for historic steel construction.

Ken Cobleigh is a Vice President and Counsel for ACD Operations LLC.  Ken works with a team of lawyers, specialists and support staff, and the AIA Documents Committee, in developing and publishing AIA Contract Documents. Ken regularly conducts seminars and workshops on topics related to design and construction, as well as topics related to the AIA Contract Documents program, and is the author of several articles and other publications on such topics.

Ken is a graduate of the University of Maryland, where he earned both his B.A. and J.D. with honors.

Prior to joining the AIA Contract Documents Program in 2006, Ken practiced for eighteen years as a construction attorney in private practice Maryland law firms. During that time, he represented owners, contractors, subcontractors and design professionals in a number of dispute resolution forums, including State and Federal Courts and administrative agencies, mediation and arbitration. Ken is admitted in state and federal courts in the State of Maryland.

Ms. Banks focuses her practice in all areas of construction law, from contract drafting and negotiation to pre-litigation dispute resolution and complex construction disputes involving mechanics liens, payment bond claims, and construction defect claims.  She represents clients across the construction spectrum, including design professionals, owners, construction managers, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers.  In addition to her construction practice, Ms. Banks serves as an associate outside legal counsel to the AIA Contract Documents Committee and has, most recently, been directly involved with developing the 2021 Design Assist and Delegated Design Agreements, the 2021 G702 and G703 for Cost of the Work projects, and collateral materials for the 2019 Construction Manager Documents.

Ms. Banks has authored publications and spoken on topics such as the 2019 construction manager documents and collateral materials, risks of P3’s for design professionals, teaming agreements, contract considerations for design professionals and contractors, understanding the general conditions of a construction contract, innovative design - risks and rewards for the design professional, issues affecting Maryland design professionals, payment bonds and mechanics liens, and construction changes and extras.  

Ms. Banks is a member of the American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry, Maryland State Bar Association, and District of Columbia Bar Association, and an Allied Member of the National American Institute of Architects.  She is admitted to practice in Maryland state and federal courts and the District of Columbia.  She received her B.A. degree, with honors, in Economics, from the University of Delaware, Phi Beta Kappa, and her J.D. degree, with honors, from the University of Baltimore School of Law.



PATRICK J. O’CONNOR, JR.  Partner with the international law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP in its Minneapolis, Minnesota office.  He received his B.A. degree from Hamline University in 1975 and his JD degree from The American University in 1981.  He was law clerk to Miles W. Lord, Chief Judge of the Federal District Court for the District of Minnesota.  Mr. O’Connor’s practice focuses on construction, suretyship and insurance.  He has served as litigation or coverage counsel for contractors, owners, design professionals, and product suppliers in disputes venued in over 25 states and Canada.  He also acts as a mediator, arbitrator and expert witness in construction and insurance disputes.  Mr. O’Connor is co-author of Bruner & O’Connor on Construction Law (West Group 2002), a twelve-volume construction law treatise.  He was an adviser to the American Law Institute’s Restatement of the Law Third, Suretyship and Guaranty.  He works closely with a number of industry organizations on Building Information Modeling and Integrated Project Delivery initiatives.  Mr. O’Connor currently is Co-Chair of the BIMForum’s Legal Subforum.  Since 2007, Mr. O’Connor has counseled the AIA’s Documents Committee in connection with numerous contract forms.  Mr. O’Connor has held LEED AP (New Construction) certification through the U.S. Green Building Council.  He is a Fellow, former member of the Executive Committee, and Past-President of the American College of Construction Lawyers.  Mr. O’Connor is also a former member of the Governing Committee for the ABA Forum on the Construction Industry.  Mr. O’Connor is listed in “The Best Lawyers in America,” “International Who’s Who of Construction Lawyers,” and “Minnesota Super Lawyers.”  (Contact Pat O’Connor at 612-766-7413 or email at

Simon Block represents clients in the design and construction industries, in both litigation and transactional matters.  He has successfully litigated complex commercial cases for corporate and individual clients and has significant expertise resolving disputes, including those with adjoining property owners, through mediation, arbitration, negotiation and litigation.

In order to efficiently serve his clients’ legal and business needs, Mr. Block leverages his extensive experience advising clients on a wide variety of business-related matters, including insurance issues, employment policies and practices, commercial contracts, intellectual property, professional malpractice, misappropriation of trade secrets and business torts.

Mr. Block drafts and negotiates contracts relating to the design and construction of major projects, including license agreements for access to properties adjoining construction projects.  He also represents clients with respect to business formation and ownership transfer, and prepares and negotiates shareholder, operating and employment agreements.

B.A. 1971 (summa cum laude), Morehouse College; J.D. 1974, Stanford University; M. Theology, 1997 Peace Theological Seminary and College of Philosophy; Member of Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society, Delta of Georgia Chapter (1971).  Ty has over forty years of experience as a construction and commerical trial lawyer, public finance lawyer, construction transaction attorney, project development and deal structuring attorney.  He also has more than thirty-five  years of experience as a construction mediator and arbitrator.  Ty is listed in the “Red Book” of public finance professionals.  He currently serves as Co-bond Counsel for the City & County of Denver, Colorado and Co-underwriters’ Counsel Park Creek Metropolitan District, Denver, Colorado.

Ty served as the President of the College of Commercial Arbitrators from 2013 to 2014.  He served as a member of the Governing Committee of the ABA Forum on the Construction Industry from 2007 to 2010, and was the Chair of the American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry’s Special Projects and Education Committee (SPEC) from 2009 to 2011.  He is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council of the Stanford Law School; a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation; and a member of the American Arbitration Association’s Construction Arbitration Master Panel.  Certified Mediator, International Mediation Institute, [5 star rating review from AAA-ICDR - August 2019].

He currently serves as a Chair or Panel Member of two large, complex construction arbitration panels; and as the single arbitrator in several construction disputes.  Ty mediates approximatley 30-40 constuction disputes a year typically ranging in size from $500,000 to over $20,000,000.

Ty serves as a client advocate in a number of design and/or construction disputes in courts and before arbitration tribunals in various jurisdications throughout the United States.  He is actively engaged in the structuring, negotiating and documenting of design, construction and design-build contract relationships in the construction industry throughout the United States.