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As a Public Works General Contractor, we routinely sponsor pass-thru claims, but ONLY IF they have merit. Otherwise, it would seem exceedingly unfair if a sub has a legitimate claim and the owner tries to deny based on a constructionist interpretation by claiming they only have a contract with the GC, and not the sub.

I have never seen any of the language you refer to here in California and I am astounded that such contract intepretation exists. Given that most building projects have at a MINIMUM, 65% subcontractor participation, how in the world would the subs ever be able to collect on legitimate claims if the owner can use this as a defense???
As far as we are concerned, the only risk is to our reputation were we to sponsor a claim that is totally without merit. We quite often will advise the sub that their claim is invalid by analyzing it via the plans & specs. Then if they decide they still want to proceed, we will do so, but with a disclamer that we do not support the claim.
Conversely, if we feel their claim is legitimate and fair, we will go to bat for them as that is the morally right thing to do.
Doing so does not of course, guarantee payment.

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