By Nina Patel. A Tennessee Court of Appeals will allow the American Subcontractors Association to submit a brief and include oral arguments in a case against a subcontractor. The Alexandria, Va.-based ASA and its two Tennessee chapters will act as "amicus curiae," or a "friend of the court," in a case involving a subcontractor that was not paid for extra work because written change orders were never signed.

In the Amprite Electric vs. the Tennessee Stadium Group case, the ASA hopes to persuade the appeals court to uphold the trial court's ruling that the subcontractor should be paid. The filing deadline for the brief is mid-October, says Brian Cubbage, construction law and contracts counsel for ASA. He says the general contractor knew the sub was doing extra work and was, in fact, urging the sub to do the work and fill out the paperwork later. The general contractor received an $8 million contingency fee from the client to use to make sure the project finished on time.

According to the ASA, the client told the GC he would be allowed to keep any of the $8 million he did not use, which the ASA believes could be his motivation in not paying the subcontractor. Cubbage says the GC owes $1.2 million to the sub for the extra work. ASA says the key to Amprite Electric's trial victory was the meticulous project documentation kept by the staff on the project. The trial court determined that the Tennessee Stadium Group had abandoned the established change order procedure. When they did this, Amprite used change orders and extra work authorizations, which the court said led Amprite to conclude that they would be paid for the work.

Cubbage says ASA's Subcontractors Legal Defense Fund (SLDF) is funding ASA's involvement in the appeal. The fund allows the ASA to use "judicial activism" to protect subcontractors in state and federal courts. For more information, log on to