Varela, Lee, Metz & Guarino (VLMG)

Nicholas A. Merrell


Nick Merrell provides value by proactively managing cases with an eye toward dispute avoidance and resolution. His practice focuses on government contracts and construction litigation.

Nick has advised clients in a variety of venues and disputes, including international arbitration proceedings and federal government bid protests. He represents general contractors, designers, sureties, and owners on a wide variety of billing disputes, such as terminations for default, preparation of delay and disruption claims, fraudulent billing cases, avoidance of fraudulent real property transfers, advising government contractors on ethics compliance programs, small business affiliation and DBE issues, licensure issues for both contractors and engineers, claims under prompt payment statues and labor compliance.


  • Lead attorney in federal court trial sustaining ENR Top 15 contractor’s termination for default of a foreign subcontractor on a power project in Djibouti, Africa for the U.S. Navy, resulting in $8 million judgment for the prime contractor plus attorneys’ fees, denying subcontractor’s claims for $10 million, and including antisuit injunction enforcing forum selection clause and enjoining foreign lawsuits.
  • Lead attorney in arbitration involving contractor’s claims for disgorgement based on California license statutes, which resulted in award ordering subcontractor to disgorge all $12 million in compensation received and denying subcontractor’s claims in excess of $9 million.
  • Secured favorable settlements for Dubai-based developer in connection with five arbitration proceedings arising out of failed slurry wall on Infinity Tower in Dubai Marina.
  • Prevailed against public utility protester at the GAO in connection with award of $500 million military utilities privatization contract, resulting in published opinion covering novel area of law.
  • Represented contractor in connection with protest of $2 billion logistical support contract for the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Program.
  • Obtained zero-loss settlement for performance bond surety against the City and County of San Francisco on $120 million bus procurement.
  • Prosecuted claims by contractor on lawsuit for breach of joint venture agreement arising out of largest solar power project in the world.
  • Obtained 100% recovery for prime contractor, plus interest and attorneys’ fees, on $26 million shopping mall project outside of Sacramento, California with bankrupt owner in connection with one of largest bankruptcies in United States history.
  • Negotiated 100% recovery on claims of prime contractor, plus award of additional completion work, on $11 million distressed commercial real estate.


  • Lecturer: "DBE Regulations and Related Risks in Construction Estimating," American Society for Professional Estimators, May 2014.
  • Author: "Preserving the Rights to Payment - Mechanic's Lien, Stop Payment Notice, Payment and Performance Bonds," California Construction Law, April 2014.
  • Lecturer: "DBE Regulations and Related Risks in Construction Estimating," AACE International, San Francisco Bay Area Section, January 2014.
  • Lecturer: "Updates in California Construction Law," AACE International, San Francisco Bay Area Section, February 2012.
  • Author: "Perfection! An Asset-Specific Guide to Creating Security Interests," From the Ground Up, Winter 2011-2012.
  • Moderator: "Integrated Project Delivery and BIM: Essential Tools for Earning LEED Certification," Greenbuild International Conference and Expo , November 2010.
  • Lecturer: "Allocating Risk on LEED Projects," Constructing Green Building's Legal Foundation: Regulatory Approaches and Practical Solutions for a Sustainable Future, September 2009.
  • Author: "Defending Prompt Payment Actions With Statutory Settlement Offers," From the Ground Up, Winter 2007 - 2008.

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