Jeffrey R. Blease is a partner and litigation lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP and has practiced law for 34 years. Throughout his career, Jeffrey has represented clients involved in all aspects of the construction industry, including owners, national contractors, developers, engineers, subcontractors and suppliers. He is chair of Foley’s nationally recognized tier one Construction Practice overseeing more than 43 dedicated construction attorneys and serves on the firm’s national Management Committee and Partner Compensation Committee. He is also the former chair of the Litigation Department in the San Diego office.
Jeffrey has been lead counsel in litigation pending in many Federal jurisdictions across the United States, and in state courts in Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. He has handled arbitrations in many different forums and mediated hundreds of cases under the rules of several different organizations. He estimates he has tried more than 50 cases to verdict.
Jeffrey was selected as an American Lawyer (2005-2021) Top Rated Lawyer® in Construction based on his rating, AV Preeminent® in the Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ (highest performance rating). He was also recognized as a Leading Lawyer in construction by The Legal 500 (“An outstanding job – professional and responsive”) (2010-2011) and recommended in 2012-2021. Clients describe Jeffrey as “responsive and ethical,” note his “tremendous legal and technical skills” and recognize his team as a provider of “the highest-level service; its advice is consistently in line with company culture and strategic objectives,” as reported in The Legal 500. Jeffrey was also selected for inclusion in the San Diego Super Lawyers® list for his work in the area of construction litigation. He leads the U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” Tier 1 nationally ranked Construction Practice at Foley.
Jeffrey represents owners, developers, engineers, lenders, contractors, subcontractors and consultants throughout all phases of a project. He provides “shovel to gavel” representation, handling all legal aspects of a construction project, including permitting, zoning, licensing, environmental, bid protests, contract, financing, insurance and performance issues, including litigating disputes with owners, contractors, consultants, subcontractors, suppliers and others.
He has extensive jury trial, court trial and arbitration experience in complex matters. Jeffrey believes in a team approach to litigation and has a team of dedicated associates and paralegals knowledgeable in the nuances of the industry and skilled in the use of technology in document-intensive cases. He has successfully handled complex construction litigation cases involving commercial and residential subdivisions, mixed-use commercial and residential mid-rise and high-rise buildings, high-rise and mid-rise medical laboratories, state of the art data centers, major airports, biomass power generation facilities, solar facilities, geothermal facilities, wind farms in the U.S. and Canada, major urban apartment complexes with athletic and commercial components, hotels, schools, dams, highways, bridges, canals and many other projects.
A representative sample of his construction litigation experience includes:
- Representation of a national developer to pursue claims involving a west coast high rise time share project;
- Representation of a national developer defending claims in a Boston condominium project;
- Representation of the receiver of a national electrical contractor in arbitration concerning the $1.3 billion dollar Utah Data Center constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers for the National Security Agency;
- Representation of the owner in litigation related to engineering and construction defects in an iconic west coast Cathedral complex;
- Representation of a Fortune 500 company in litigation over a refinery project;
- Evaluation of a portfolio of litigation matters for a national contractor and development of revised handling and management criteria;
- Portfolio management of all claims for a national multifamily developer;
- Summary judgment victory for an engineering client on a major San Diego historic hotel renovation project in a multi-party complex litigation case, avoiding a 70-day jury trial for the client and recovering the client’s costs;
- Successful resolution of all claims for an owner on a $205 million dollar Boston high-rise medical facility without litigation, liens or claims being filed, despite design issues, significant delays and dozens of unresolved change orders and tens of millions in dollars in damages;
- Successful resolution of significant delay claims on a $70 million dollar New York office facility;
- Defense verdict after trial in a San Diego public works bid dispute between a general contractor and a subcontractor;
- Dismissal of a multimillion dollar delay claim between a general contractor and a San Francisco framing subcontractor;
- Full recovery of engineering client claims plus attorney fees after client wrongfully terminated for cause by owner;
- Claims involving the design and construction of an international airport runway extension;
- Successful resolution of claims relating to the development of a major solar energy project;
- Successful rejection of all bids in a public works dispute involving a bid protest by a general contractor;
- Settlement of millions of dollars in claims after a default by a concrete contractor on a Los Angeles multi story apartment project;
- Representation of surety after default on an Orange County public works project involving multiple prime contractors and resolution of all claims;
- Trial verdict against a surety following a contractor default on a Minnesota public works project;
- Innovative resolution of school district claims against a prime concrete contractor requiring a 50-year pre-paid coating maintenance and replacement bonded warranty following re-coating for aesthetically unsuitable exterior concrete panels which could not be remanufactured without severely impacting the schedule and delaying a critical school opening;
- Settlement obtained for a general contractor against a defaulted sub on a public works project and collection of the settlement funds from an insurance carrier despite major coverage hurdles; and
- Favorable settlement for owner after multi-building dry fire sprinkler system failure and tenant disruption involving 400 units in Colorado; and
- Settlement in favor of general contractor after termination of demolition subcontractor for cause.
Jeffrey drafts and negotiates general contracts, subcontracts, consultant agreements, construction management agreements, development agreements and other project related documents. He has negotiated contracts on individual projects ranging in size from 10 million to several hundred million dollars.
A representative sample of his construction transactional projects include:
- Development of tailored national general contract and subcontract forms used to successfully develop and construct more than 300,000 units of multi-family housing for a national developer;
- Development of hard and soft cost contracts for construction of high rise condominiums; for owners and contractors;
- Negotiation of general contracts and construction management agreements for manufacturing facilities, life science facilities, research facilities, office towers and shopping centers;
- Negotiation of general contracts and subcontracts for schools, water treatment plants and city administration buildings for public owners and contractors;
- Negotiation of highway contracts, bridge contracts, sewer, water and storm drain contracts and other infrastructure contracts for both owners and contractors;
- Negotiation of endorsements and exceptions to title policies;
- Representation of owners and developers before County and City Boards and Commissions to secure project permits; and
- Representation of owners and developers to obtain variances, re-zoning and conditional use permits for large commercial, industrial and residential projects.
Jeffrey is admitted to practice in California, Minnesota, Massachusetts and before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth and Ninth Circuits. He is a member of the American Bar Association (including the Forum on the Construction Industry), the Minnesota State Bar Association, the Massachusetts Bar Association, the State Bar of California, the San Diego County Bar Association, the John E. Simonett Inn of Court, the Boston Bar Association and a member of the Associated General Contractors of America (San Diego Chapter).
Jeffrey served on the Sartell, Minnesota City Council for 10 years, served as acting mayor, chaired the Sartell Public Works Commission, served on the Sartell Economic Development Commission, the St. Cloud Area Planning Organization and the Central Minnesota Events Center Task Force (Stadium Development).
- “The Hidden Perils of Non-Essential Construction Work,” co-author, Construction Executive, April 2020
- “COVID and Force Majeure,” speaker, webcast, Construction Lenders Risk Management Roundtable, April 2020
- “New AIA Contract Documents,” Construction Law Update, May 2018
- “Changed Site Conditions Claims: A Roadmap for Success,” co-author, Pile Driver Magazine, Q2, 2011
- “What Every CFO Needs to Know About Managing Today’s Legal Expenses,” Constructor Magazine, September/October 2009
- “Buy American Provision in Stimulus Legislation Poses Serious Compliance Challenges for Public Works Contractors and DHS Supplies,” Foley Legal News Alert: Litigation, February 17, 2009
- “What Every Contractor Needs to Know About Cumulative Impact, Cardinal Change and Abandonment Claims,” PDCA 17th Annual International Conference, Orlando, FL, April 2013
- “Changed Conditions Claims: A Roadmap for Success,” PDCA 15th Annual International Conference, Savannah, GA, April, 2011