The Third Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined that defendant’s (Banton’s) requested changes to the contract were not a “cardinal changes” such that Banton breached the contract. The plaintiff, pursuant the subcontract, provided concrete for the construction project. The original subcontract indicated plaintiff would “pour” not “pump” the concrete and would not install “tactile strips.” Subsequently, Banton requested that the concrete be pumped and that tactile strips be installed. The parties then agreed to proceed with those changes:
Supreme Court found that Banton’s request to modify the concrete delivery method from pouring to pumping, in light of the express subcontract exclusion, was a material change to the scope of plaintiff’s work under the agreement. Although we agree with the court that this was a material change, we do not find it to be a cardinal change such that Banton can be found to have breached the contract … . A cardinal change is one that affects “‘the essential identity or main purpose of the contract,’ such that it ‘constitutes a new undertaking'” … . The main purpose of this subcontract was to complete the concrete work for the project, and we do not find that the changes in the work requested by Banton fundamentally changed this purpose so as to constitute a cardinal change that would relieve plaintiff of its obligation to perform under the subcontract … . This conclusion is further supported by the fact that plaintiff was ready, willing and able to implement these changes and continue to perform under the subcontract, but only if its price was met. McCarthy Concrete, Inc. v Banton Constr. Co., 2022 NY Slip Op 02168, Third Dept 3-31-22
Practice Point: Here it was determined that the changes to the subcontract requested by the defendant were “material” but they were not “cardinal” such that plaintiff’s performance was excused. Plaintiff had specifically excluded “pumped,” as opposed to “poured,” concrete and the installation of tactile strips from the subcontract. Defendant subsequently requested “pumped” concrete and the installation of tactile strips. Essentially the parties agreed to proceed with the changes. Supreme Court should not have held plaintiff was not obligated to perform.