In Harper/Nielson-Dillingham Builders, Inc. v. U.S., a general contractor entered into a prime contract to perform various work for the Air Force. The general contractor then entered into a subcontract that contained a “no damages for delay” clause. When the subcontractor was delayed in completing its work, the general contractor brought suit on behalf of its subcontractor to recover excess costs incurred due to delays by the government. The government then filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the ground that the general contractor could not pass through its subcontractor’s delay claims to the government under the Severin doctrine.

The Severin doctrine provides that a general contractor may not bring claims against the government for damages for which the general contractor would not itself be liable. Under California law, “no damages for delay” clauses are enforceable, and the subcontractor’s delay claims could not have been brought against the general contractor. Consequently, the general contractor was immunized for damages due to delay and the government properly invoked Severin to insulate itself from liability.

Harper/Nielson-Dillingham, Builders, Inc. v. U.S., 81 Fed. Cl. 667 (2008).