Varela, Lee, Metz & Guarino (VLMG)

Joseph S. Guarino

Founding Partner

Joseph Guarino handles dispute resolution in the construction sector, including major claims relating to the development of energy facilities, hotel complexes and commercial buildings. Clients say "Joseph Guarino is savvy, knowledgeable, an incredible writer and a fierce and skillful advocate in a courtroom or arbitration proceeding." "Mr. Guarino is very detail-oriented."

- Chambers and Partners, 2022

Joseph Guarino's experience includes all aspects of contract drafting and negotiations, counseling on contract administration, claim preservation and avoidance, and dispute resolution and litigation within the construction industry. Joe's broad experience includes tunnels, power plants, high-rise buildings, hospitals, detention facilities, courthouses, hotels and condominiums, chemical projects, educational facilities, airports, pharmaceutical projects, mass transit, car rental facilities and parking structures, embassies, and many other industrial, heavy construction and general building projects.

Joe counsels and advises clients on contract preparation, administration, interpretation, and termination on federal, state and private contracts both domestically and internationally. Joe also frequently assists clients in key risk management issues and has represented clients in drafting of complex engineering and construction contracts. In addition, he assists clients with claim preservation, preparation and prosecution. Joe has significant litigation experience before both federal and state courts as well as boards of contract appeals and in various alternative dispute resolution proceedings, including arbitration and dispute review boards, throughout the country and internationally.

Representative Experience

  • Lead counsel representing developer in a dispute with EPC contractor over performance on a 300MW coal-fired CFB power plant in Guatemala. The case proceeded through a multi-week Evidentiary Hearing before the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.  Client ultimately received a Final Award of over US$300 million in its favor and which defeated nearly all of the contractor’s US$800 million counterclaims.
  • Representing an ENR U.S. Top 50 general contractor in a dispute with a museum owner.  The case is pending before the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
  • Lead trial counsel for contractor in a AAA / ICDR dispute with an EPC contractor on a 674MW natural gas-fired combined-cycle plant in Massachusetts. Following a multi-week evidentiary hearing, Joe’s client received a Final Award of over US$32 million on its claims of, among other things, lost productivity and change order work.  Joe’s client was also awarded attorneys’ fees and costs as part of the Final Award.
  • Lead trial counsel in recovering $52 million on contractor's affirmative claims for delay, material breach of contract and overturning of default termination and defeating $60 million delay, termination and construction defect claims by Clark County during ten week hearing involving $124 million, 18-story Regional Justice Center.
  • Successfully represented large solar contractor in multiple disputes involving solar plants in Arizona and California.
  • Lead trial counsel defending against $30 million overbilling, delay and defective work claims by Clark County on $60 million Detention Center Facility and negotiating release from False Claims allegations. Successfully negotiated $9 million recovery on contractor's delay, impact and extra work claims.
  • Lead counsel for ASBCA case involving claims by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for over $15 million on tunnel and shaft project in Chicago, Illinois. Successfully negotiated complete dismissal from case with U.S. Army Corps deciding to pursue designer.
  • Represented construction manager on multibillion dollar gaming, hotel and residence project in Las Vegas, Nevada. Secured dismissal of case involving over $300 million in claims on motions prior to trial.
  • Representation of contractor and designer on arbitration of claims involving 674 MW natural gas combined cycle power plant in Massachusetts.
  • Represented EPC Top 10 contractor in preparing and mediating affirmative recovery on contractor's $20 million delay, impact and changes claims related to large parking structure and rental car facility. Successfully secured settlement.
  • Represent Owner of $3.5 billion resort in Nassau, Bahamas. Retained to prepare, negotiate and assist with administering reprocurement contracts after project suspended for over a year due to bankruptcy.
  • Lead counsel for EPC contractor in dispute with subcontractor over performance and termination on a 300 MW solar power plant in the United States. Successfully negotiated settlement during pendency of ICC arbitration.
  • Represented construction manager in defense of $100 million dispute with owner on multibillion hotel and casino project in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Successfully negotiated resolution without the need for continued litigation.
  • Served as an arbitrator on a Panel for dispute between U.S. Navy contractor and subcontractor related to U.S. Navy ship construction program. Dispute involved over $50 million in extra work claims. 
  • Represented large U.S. government contractor in numerous disputes with U.S. government and subcontractors related to Federal Government contracting issues.
  • Represent and ENR U.S. Top 50 contractor on large road construction litigation in Nevada.
  • Represent solar power plant general contractor in multiple arbitrations related to the construction of multiple solar power plants in North Carolina and Florida.
  • Drafted and negotiated over $1 billion in contracts for multiple hydroelectric/power plant projects in Chile, Panama and Columbia.
  • Provided strategic advice and assistance with contract administration during projects.
  • Represented large EPC contractor in complex matter involving the construction of ships for the U.S. Navy.
  • Representation of contractor in $120 million wastewater treatment plant dispute with owner. Also provided contract administrative services as well as negotiation and claim preparation services to ongoing project.
  • Drafted and successfully negotiated contract on over $1 billion tunnel contract for hydroelectric power plant in Canada for large international tunnel contractor.
  • Represented large EPC contractor on claims involving combined cycle power plant in Pennsylvania.
  • Lead trial counsel in Federal District Court on power plant project, negotiating a recovery of over $3 million on affirmative claim of engineer against Owner/Developer.
  • Lead counsel representing EPC contractor in dispute with subcontractor in arbitration administered by the International Center for Dispute Resolution, the international arm of the American Arbitration Association.
  • Led litigation team in the United States District Court defending against $8 million claim by contractor on behalf of hospital owner. Successfully achieved negotiated settlement of amount proposed by owner at outset of litigation.
  • Representation of Owner on drafting and contract administration of hundreds of millions of dollars of hydro-electric power plant contracts for three projects in Latin America.
  • Represented contractor on multimillion dollar claim against Department of State on embassy project, successfully achieving settlement during pre-trial mediation.
  • Represented tunnel contractor in $40 million claim during five-week jury trial in Federal District Court.
  • Represented contractor and surety in $30 million claim against public utility owner and defending against $30 counterclaim in Federal District Court jury trial. Achieved settlement during trial.
  • Representation of large public educational system in the drafting of contracts and development of strategy to avoid disputes on over a billion dollars of new elementary, middle school and high school construction.
  • Representation of contractors in numerous projects, including embassy projects in South America and Asia, wastewater treatment plants, tunnels and courthouses. Scope of representations includes cost-efficiently pursuing and recovering on affirmative claims and defending numerous claims by various governmental and private owners.
  • Represented contractor against Corps of Engineers on airbase in Egypt.
  • Prepared numerous construction delay, disruption and impact claims ranging from less than $1 million to tens of millions of dollars, resolving many through negotiated settlement prior to trial through mediation, direct discussions or other form of ADR.
  • Successfully represented numerous tunneling contractors in miles of tunneling projects through Disputes Resolution Board and other disputes proceedings.

Counseling and Contract Drafting

  • Strategically advises clients on and negotiates complex construction and engineering contracts between $100,000 and $1.1 billion. Regularly drafts and negotiates contracts for hospital, tunnel, educational, and building projects.

Publications & Presentations

  • Speaker/Moderator: “Construction in Quarantine: Covid-19 and its Impact on Construction Contracts and Projects,” International Construction Projects Committee of IBA, June 2020.
  • Speaker: “Construction Delay, Acceleration and Inefficiency Claims,” Federal Publications, November 2017.
  • Speaker: “Go with the Flow:  Assessing Delay on Production-Based Scopes of Work,” Construction SuperConference 2017.
  • Speaker: “Troubled Projects and Terminations in International Construction,” International Construction Practice Group of International Bar Association, May 2016.
  • Speaker: "International Disputes Adjudication Boards," Disputes Review Board Foundation, 2009.
  • Speaker: "Allocating Design Risk on Major Infrastructure Projects: Is Design Build the Answer," Construction SuperConference, 2006.
  • Author: "The Stealth Terms of Your Contract: Watch Out for Implied Terms," Virginia State Bar Construction Law Section Newsletter, 2001.
  • Past Visiting Lecturer: Government Contracts/Construction Seminar, College of William & Mary School of Law.

Varela, Lee, Metz & Guarino updates the content of this website on a periodic basis. Any content i) is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice; and, ii) is not intended to create, and your receipt and/or use of such content does not create, a lawyer-client relationship. You should not rely on any such content without first consulting a licensed attorney familiar with your particular facts and legal issues.