Varela, Lee, Metz & Guarino (VLMG)

Christopher M. Burke

Partner

"[A]n unyielding commitment to a successful outcome." – The Legal 500 United States, 2016

Chris Burke litigates construction, government contracts, and other commercial contract cases. Chris has nearly 15 years of experience handling disputes in the public and private sectors, both domestically and internationally.

Chris has represented clients in state and federal courts and in arbitration proceedings, and has considerable experience with international dispute resolution. Over the course of his career, Chris has represented owners, general contractors, construction managers, 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 handles 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. He also advises clients on non-contentious matters, including contract drafting.

Chris graduated cum laude from Yale University and later from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as a Dillard Fellow Legal Research and Writing Instructor.

REPRESENTATIVE EXPERIENCE

Domestic Litigation and Arbitration

  • Currently representing a general contractor joint venture (comprised of two ENR U.S. Top 20 contractors and an ENR Top 100 contractor) in an arbitration concerning the design and construction of a data center in Utah. The case is currently pending before the American Arbitration Association.
  • Currently representing a general contractor concerning the construction of tunnels and shafts on the McCook Reservoir Project (Chicago, IL). An appeal is currently pending before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals.
  • Represented a general contractor concerning the construction of a new 18-story courthouse in Las Vegas, NV. Following a 10-week arbitration hearing wherein Chris served as trial counsel, Chris's client obtained a Final Award of $52.7 million on its affirmative claims, and defeated nearly all of Owner Clark County's $60 million counterclaim. Chris also represented the same general contractor concerning the construction and renovation of the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas, NV. In that case, Chris's client obtained a favorable settlement resulting in payment of nearly $10 million on its affirmative delay and impact claims.
  • Represented ENR U.S. 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, during which Chris served as trial counsel, Chris's client and the opposing party were able to achieve a confidential settlement of their disputes.
  • 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 obtain a Final Award of over $10 million on its affirmative claims. The Final Award overturned the Owner's improper default termination claim, and dismissed the Owner's $120 million counterclaim in its entirety.
  • Represented a general contractor in Utah Federal Court against an Owner concerning the construction of a wastewater treatment facility. Serving as lead counsel, Chris negotiated a favorable settlement for his client prior to trial.
  • Represented a general contractor in an arbitration against its design engineer concerning the construction of a coal power plant materials handling facility. Prior to negotiating a favorable settlement for his client, Chris successfully argued to void the designer’s limitation-of-liability contract defense.
  • 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.

International Arbitration

  • Currently representing an EPC Contractor in a dispute with a subcontractor on a 600MW coal-fire plant in South America. The case is pending before the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.
  • Represented developer in a dispute with EPC contractor over performance on a 300MW coal-fired CFB power plant in Guatemala. The case was tried before the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce. Chris served as trial counsel and following a multi-week evidentiary hearing, Chris’s client received a Final Award awarding damages of over US$300 million, and upholding the developer’s default termination of the EPC Contract.
  • Represented EPC contractor in a dispute with subcontractor over performance on a 300MW solar power plant in the United States. The case was tried before the International Centre for Dispute Resolution, the international arm of the American Arbitration Association.
  • Represented ENR U.S. Top 50 contractor engaged in a dispute with its subcontractor over the construction of a 100MW power plant in Afghanistan. The case was tried before the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.
  • Represented EPC contractor in a dispute with subcontractor over performance on a 300MW solar power plant in the United States. The case was administered by the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce. The parties reached a confidential settlement prior to the evidentiary hearing of the matter.

RECENT PUBLICATIONS & PRESENTATIONS

  • Co-Author: Chapter 25, Federal Government Construction Contracts Outside the United States, in Forum on Construction Law, American Bar Association, Federal Government Construction Contracts (3d ed. 2017) (forthcoming).
  • Session Chair: “Time-Related Obligations in Key Jurisdictions: An Update,” International Bar Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC, September 2016.
  • Co-Editor: American Bar Association Forum on Construction Law Division 13 (Government Construction) newsletter, June 2016 – present.
  • Session Coordinator: “Cost of the Work: Tricks and Traps to Avoid in Contract Drafting,” American Bar Association Forum on Construction Law Annual Meeting, Nashville, TN, April 2016.
  • Speaker: "Arbitration with a Passport? Comparing Domestic and International Arbitration for Construction Disputes," Construction SuperConference (San Diego, CA), December 2015.
  • Presenter: "Acceleration & Mitigation of Project Delays," WPL Publishing Co. Webinar, November 2015.
  • Co-Author: Chapter 7 Differing Site Conditions, American Bar Association, CONSTRUCTION LITIGATION – Model Jury Instructions (2nd ed., 2015).
  • Co-Author: "Living in a Material World: Kiewit-Turner, Material Breach, and Implications for Breaching and Nonbreaching Parties," The Construction Lawyer, Volume 35, Number 2, Spring 2015.
  • Presenter: "Recovery Schedules: Practical and Legal Considerations," WPL Publishing Co. Webinar, November 2012; November 2013.