THE HANDWRITTEN ADDITION TO THE PRINTED CONTRACT IS PRESUMED TO EXPRESS THE LATEST INTENTION OF THE PARTIES; HERE THE ENTRY CREATED AMBIGUITY IN THE “NO DAMAGES FOR DELAY” CLAUSE REQUIRING DISCOVERY (FIRST DEPT).
The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined a handwritten entry in a printed contract is presumed to express the latest intention of the parties and created ambiguity requiring discovery:
The subcontractor agreement between plaintiff and defendant JDS Construction Group LLC contains clauses precluding damages for delay. It also provides that if plaintiff’s work was “delayed or disrupted by fault of [JDS], Architect, or any other contractor, or by abnormal weather conditions, then the time fixed for the completion of the Work shall be extended for a period equivalent to the time actually lost, in the discretion of [JDS] and compensated for additional, mutually agreed to costs,” with the words in italics handwritten onto the typed agreement.
… [A] handwritten provision that conflicts with the language of the preprinted form document will control, “as it is presumed to express the latest intention of the parties” … . The handwritten amendment to the no-damages-for-delay clause renders the clause ambiguous as to whether plaintiff is entitled to be compensated for costs incurred as a result of such delays, which requires discovery to discern the parties’ intent … . Henick-Lane, Inc. v 616 First Ave. LLC, 2023 NY Slip Op 01163, First Dept 3-7-23
Practice Point: A handwritten entry in a printed contract is presumed to reflect the latest intention of the parties.
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