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Chris Burke has significant experience litigating construction, government contracts, surety, and other commercial contract cases. Chris has litigated disputes in the public and private sectors, both domestically and internationally.
Since joining Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald in 2002, Chris has represented clients in state and federal courts and in alternative dispute resolution proceedings. Over the course of his career, Chris has represented general contractors, construction managers, sureties, and subcontractors through the various stages of dispute resolution, from claim preservation through trial. Throughout each of these phases, Chris has advised his clients how to reach the most efficient and economical resolutions to their disputes.
Before maturation of the litigation process, Chris has worked with clients to avoid costly disputes by resolving issues at the project level. Once litigation is inevitable, however, Chris has significant experience in managing all aspects of the dispute process - from complex document productions (including e-discovery), through depositions and mediation, and ultimately at trial. Chris is an effective litigator who protects his clients' economic interests while preparing for the best presentation at trial should a matter "go the distance."
Chris is well-versed on the crucial elements of construction disputes, including schedule analysis, lost productivity studies and issues of design interpretation. Chris is particularly knowledgeable regarding claim pricing and damages. Chris is also experienced in the representation of sureties and their unique claims and defenses in construction disputes.
Before joining WTHF, Chris graduated
from Yale University and from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as a Dillard Fellow Legal Research and Writing Instructor.
- Successfully represented a general contractor and surety concerning the construction of a new 18-story courthouse in Las Vegas, NV. The general contractor and surety obtained a Final Award of $52.7 million on their affirmative claims, and defeated nearly all of Owner Clark County's $60 million counterclaim. The award was the culmination of a 10-week arbitration hearing in Las Vegas, NV, during which Chris served as trial counsel. In addition to the recovery on the affirmative claims, the Final Award overturned the County's improper default termination claim.
- Successfully represented the same general contractor and surety concerning the construction and renovation of the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas, NV. Days before a five-week arbitration was scheduled to commence, Chris's clients' obtained a favorable settlement resulting in payment of nearly $10 million on their affirmative delay and impact claims.
- Trial counsel for
Top 10 contractor engaged in a dispute with its subcontractor over the engineering and construction of a 600 MW petroleum coke-fired CFB power plant. Following the first five-week phase of a scheduled eight-week arbitration hearing, Chris's client and the opposing party were able to achieve a confidential settlement of their disputes.
- Successfully represented an at-risk construction manager concerning the construction of a luxury condominium project in New York City. As co-lead trial counsel through a nearly three-week arbitration hearing, Chris helped the construction manager and its surety obtain a Final Award of over $10 million on their affirmative claims. The Final Award overturned the Owner's improper default termination claim, and dismissed the Owner's $120 million counterclaim in its entirety.
Top 50 contractor engaged in a dispute with its subcontractor over the construction of a 100 MW power plant in Afghanistan. The case was tried before the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.
- Successfully negotiated a settlement on behalf of a general contractor against its design engineer concerning the construction of a power plant materials handling facility. Prior to settlement, Chris successfully argued to void the designer's limitation-of-liability contract clause, resulting in a favorable settlement for his client.
- Successfully represented a general contractor concerning the construction of a performing arts center for the Virginia Community College System. On the eve of trial, Chris's client obtained a favorable settlement of over $3 million on its affirmative delay and impact claims.
Publications and Presentations
- Presenter: "Recovery Schedules: Practical and Legal Considerations," WPL Publishing Co. Webinar, November 2012.
- Author: "Virginia Supreme Court Strikes Down Public Contract Clause Limiting Contractor's Right to Recovery for Owner-Caused Delay," From The Ground Up, Winter 2003-2004; Washington Building Congress Bulletin, Spring 2004; Heavy Construction Contractors Association Dig It! April 2004; Construction Law and Public Contracts News, Spring 2004.