Photo of Timothy R. Thornton

Timothy R. Thornton


“Success on the project and in the courtroom is based on understanding and managing risk, attention to detail, thorough preparation and flawless execution. There are no substitutes.”


J.D., Washington University School of Law, 1980

B.S., Illinois State University, 1976


Tim Thornton is chief executive officer of the firm and represents clients in construction law matters. In his role as CEO, he manages the daily affairs of the firm’s three offices, leading strategic, financial, business development and operations issues.

In his decades of legal practice, Tim has handled all aspects of construction law, including transactional work and dispute resolution in the public and private sectors.  He is experienced representing prime contractors, subcontractors, design-builders, design professionals, construction managers and owners from initial planning of the project through final resolution of disputes.

Tim has extensive experience on a variety of projects including light rail and transit, nuclear, coal-fired and hydroelectric power plants, waste water treatment facilities, hospitals, airports, schools, manufacturing facilities, bridges, highways, prisons and jails, justice facilities, military installations, pharmaceutical facilities, and other heavy industrial, commercial and environmental projects.  Tim also has broad-based experience with a variety of delivery systems, including traditional design-bid-build, design-build, agent and at-risk construction management, multiple prime contractor and integrated project delivery.

Tim has served as lead counsel on numerous complex and lengthy arbitrations, bench trials and jury trials involving construction-related claims such as bid protests, delays, disruptions and inefficiencies, acceleration, differing site conditions, defects, scope of work disputes and contested contract terminations. On the transactional side, Tim has drafted and negotiated teaming agreements, joint venture agreements, design-build contracts, design and construction contracts, and program and project management agreements. Tim’s practice is nationwide and has included projects and dispute resolution efforts in 30 or more states.

Professional Affiliations

  • Fellow, American College of Construction Lawyers
  • Member, Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys
  • American Bar Association, Forum on Construction Law, Past-Chair, Division 4, Project Delivery Systems (2005-2007)
  • The Missouri Bar
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis
  • Associated General Contractors, St. Louis Chapter
  • American Subcontractors Association, St. Louis Chapter

Honors & Awards

Honors & Awards

  • Missouri Lawyers Weekly: 2017 Law Firm Leader
  • Who’s Who Legal: Construction, 2015
  • The Best Lawyers in America, Construction Law, 2007-2019; Litigation-Construction, 2011-2019; St. Louis area Construction Law Lawyer of the Year, 2018
  • Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers, Construction Litigation, 2006-2018


Representative Matters

  • Light rail transportation system. Represented a joint venture responsible for the design and managing the construction of an eight-mile extension to the light rail commuter system for the St. Louis metropolitan area. The transit agency terminated the joint venture for default and filed suit asserting $100 million in claims including breach of contract, negligence and fraud. After a 100-day jury trial, the jury found in favor of the joint venture on all counts and awarded the joint venture substantial recovery on its counterclaim.  The court entered judgment in favor of the joint venture including attorney’s fees.
  • Design-build hospital.  Represented a design-builder in a four-week arbitration in Los Angeles resulting in an award finding that the design-builder had been wrongfully terminated for default.  Over $150 million of disputed claims involving issues of design errors and omissions, construction workmanship, delay and wrongful termination were determined in favor of the design-builder.
  • County jail and justice center.  Settlement of over $155 million in disputed claims against a construction manager for two public projects in Las Vegas involving the standard of care applicable to the construction manager as well as issues of design errors, quality of construction, delay and termination.
  • Health center.  Represented a medical center in a claim against the design professional for substantial water intrusion. After arbitration, a substantial award was entered on behalf of the medical center.
  • Casino. Represented a prime contractor in multiple party equitable mechanic’s lien case arising out of the construction of a casino in St. Louis.  Prior to trial, the case was favorably resolved with a substantial payment to the prime contractor.
  • Commercial office building.  Represented contractor in an arbitration against an owner-developer involving competing claims between the parties.  The contractor asserted a claim for non-payment; the owner-developer claimed improper suspension of work by contractor.  Favorable arbitration award received.
  • Coal-fired power plant. Litigation in central Missouri and a two-day mediation in Chicago resulting in a favorable settlement for contractor client of over $40 million in claims involving scope of work issues, design, workmanship, delay and disruption.
  • Mine and cement plant.  Multiple scope and schedule claims between a prime contractor and its design-build subcontractor.  Claims successfully resolved in mediation.
  • Brewery facility. Represented mechanical contractor concerning disputes arising out of the renovation and new construction at a metropolitan area brewing facility. Claims by the mechanical contractor included improper termination, excessive changes and owner-caused inefficiencies. Claims by the owner included consequential damages due to delays, and cost overruns incurred in completing the scope remaining after termination.  All claims were resolved in mediation.
  • Grocery stores.  Defended a seller against a claim for fraud by the purchaser of approximately 20 grocery stores.  Following a two-month plus arbitration, the seller obtained an arbitration award in its favor including the award of attorney’s fees incurred.
  • Metropolitan office building.  Defense of a prime contractor against claims by masonry subcontractor for breach of contract and fraud arising out of the construction of a high-rise, metropolitan office building.  A modest jury verdict award in favor of the masonry subcontractor was reversed outright on appeal.
  • Public high school.  Prosecution of a claim of wrongful termination/defense of claim for damages due to inaccurate cost estimate on behalf of construction manager.  All claims were resolved following mediation.
  • Distribution and packaging facility.  Defense of a design/build contractor against claims by the process mechanical subcontractor arising out of the construction of a distribution and packaging facility in the northeastern United States.  Following a multi-week arbitration in New Jersey, a favorable award was obtained.
  • Levee construction.  Prosecution of breach of contract and differing site conditions claims on behalf of an earth moving contractor against the Missouri Department of Conservation.  Following a multi-week jury trial, a verdict equal to one hundred percent of the amount being claimed was obtained for the earth moving contractor. 
  • VA hospital.  Represented several subcontractors asserting claims through the prime against the Veterans Administration for extra costs due to inefficiencies resulting from defective plans and specifications.  Claims successfully resolved following a mini-trial in Washington D.C.
  • Government office building.  Defense of the prime contractor against delay and disruption claims by the masonry subcontractor arising out of the construction of a government office building.  Jury verdict obtained by subcontractor was less than pre-trial settlement offer.
  • School renovation project.  Prosecution of delay, disruption and extra work claims by a mechanical contractor arising out of renovation and new construction work at multiple sites for a local school district.  Following a multi-week arbitration, an arbitration award in the full amount sought was recovered by the mechanical contractor.
  • Municipal storm sewer project.  Contractor has the right to suspend performance due to owner non-payment without sacrificing its right to arbitration. Village of Cairo, Missouri vs. Bodine Contracting Co., Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District. Reported as 685 S.W.2d 253 (Mo. App. W.D. 1985).
  • Waste water treatment facility.  Represented prime contractor in an arbitration against subcontractor involving issues of schedule, delay and disruption.  Following a lengthy arbitration, the amount awarded to the subcontractor was substantially less than a pre-arbitration settlement offer.
  • Electrical transmission towers.  Represented contractor prosecuting claims for delays and cost overruns against an electrical cooperative in connection with the construction and erection of electrical transmission towers.
  • Coal-fired power plant.  Prosecution of delay and disruption claims for the bankruptcy estate of an electrical subcontractor on a coal-fired power plant project.  All claims settled prior to trial. 
  • Nuclear cooling towers. Prosecution of claims for, and the defense of claims against, a drilling subcontractor arising out of the construction of several cooling towers for a nuclear power facility owned and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority.  Favorable arbitration award obtained following a multi-week arbitration in Georgia.

News & Insights

Seminars & Speaking Engagements

  • “Advocacy in Construction Cases” 
    Construction Law Institute, University of Kentucky, October 20, 2016
  • “Best Value in Action”
    ABA Forum on Construction Law, Nashville, Tennessee, April 29, 2016
  • “My Favorite Mistakes: 3:00 a.m. Nightmares - Mistakes Attorneys Make in Complex Litigation and How to Deal With Them”
    American Bar Association Forum on Construction Law, Scottsdale, Arizona, 2015
  • “Beat the Blues: Counseling the Client During the Course of the Ongoing Construction Project - Project Counsel’s Ethical and Professional Obligations vs. The Eternal Quest for Project Harmony and Cooperation”
    New Orleans, Louisiana, 2014
  • “Building Better Construction Contracts: Tailoring Incentives, Creating Collaboration and Developing Effective Risk Allocation – Ethics for then Lawyer Representing Multiple Interests”
    Practising Law Institute, New York, 2012
  • “Psychology of a Modern Fact Finder – Jury Studies and a 100-Day Trial”
    5th Annual Construction Law Institute 2012, Orlando, Florida, 2012
  • “Cutting Edge Tools: Advanced Techniques for Construction Practitioners – Psychology of the Modern Fact Finder”
    American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry, Scottsdale, Arizona, 2011
  • “The 100-Day Jury Trial”
    St. Louis County Bar Association, St. Louis, Missouri, 2009
  • "Integrated Project Delivery"
    American Institute of Architects, Associated General Contractors, January 1, 2009
  • “The St. Louis MetroLink Litigation – The 100 Day Trial”
    American Council of Engineering Companies 2008 Annual Convention, Washington D.C., 2008
  • Program Co-Chair, “Withstanding the Tremors: The Golden Rules for a Rock Solid Design/Build Project” 
    American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry and Tort Trial Insurance Practice Section Fidelity and Surety Law Committee, San Francisco, California, 2007
  • “Ten Key Decisions to a Successful Construction Project; Key Decision 7: Selecting and Retaining Construction Contractors and Key Suppliers”
    American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry, Toronto, 2005
  • Program Co-Chair, “Value-Based Contracting – It’s Not Just Price Anymore”
    American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry, Washington D.C., 2003
  • “Fundamentals of Construction Law”
    American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry, St. Louis, Missouri, 2003
  • “Contract Formation, Contract Types and Important Contract Terms"
    Construction Law Conference, St. Louis, Missouri, 2000
  • “Comparing the New Design-Build Contract Forms - Standard Form Design-Build Contracts: The Owner’s Perspective”
    American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry, Washington D.C., 2000
  • “Proposed Changes to AIA Document A201, The General Conditions of the Contract for Construction”
    American Institute of Architects, St. Louis, American Institute of Architects, Missouri, St. Louis, Missouri, 1996


Articles & Books

  • State and Local Construction Projects: An Attorney’s Handbook, 2017
  • “A Comparison of Standard Forms: The Owner-Design/Builder Contract"
    The Design/Build Deskbook, Third Edition, American Bar Association, 2003
  • "State/Province Review: Kansas"
    Chapter Update, The Design/Build Deskbook, Third Edition, American Bar Association, January 1, 2003
  • "Chapter 15: Missouri Litigation Settlements, Alternative Dispute Resolution"
    Missouri Bar Association, Second Edition, 2001
  • "Chapter 2: A Comparison of Standard Forms: The Owner-Design/Builder Contract"
    The Design/Build Deskbook, Second Edition, American Bar Association, 2000

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