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John W. Dreste


(585) 473-3100 (Ext. 105)

John W. Dreste, Partner, concentrates his practice on complex commercial contract litigation, largely focusing on the fields of construction contract law, suretyship, fidelity, environmental law and other areas impacting the surety, fidelity and construction industries. His practice, though litigation oriented, involves extensive claims analysis and investigation and includes negotiation, mediation and other informal methods of dispute resolution. Additionally, he serves as a mediator and arbitrator through the American Arbitration Association in construction industry disputes.

In addition, John has lectured, and has authored various articles, on subjects pertinent to the surety and construction industries, most recently focusing on issues relating to mold in construction settings, and regularly contributes to various publications.

John has handled a number of high profile matters in which Ernstrom & Dreste has been involved, including numerous multi-million dollar claims asserted by and against clients on major construction projects.  He has also handled many cases in which our client was in competition with the Internal Revenue Service or an estate in bankruptcy for project contract funds. These actions resulted in the preservation and/or payment of contract funds to our clients or other appropriate project-specific recipients. In a subrogation/salvage setting, John successfully pursued a “Type II” differing site condition claim that resulted from an encounter by the contractor/principal of various toxic substances during the boring of a tunnel underneath a river. He also regularly defends sureties on issues involving bonds that are fraudulently induced or are otherwise unenforceable.  Also, John represents various Brazilian corporations in matters that have involved railroad and oil production projects, and publicity rights, in the United States and Brazil.

John Dreste regularly counsels clients and handles contractor work-outs and otherwise “troubleshoots” potential defaults or claim situations. Notable efforts have included multi-million dollar financial work-outs involving troubled contractors, sureties and banks. As a firm, we have found that prompt, aggressive and independent early investigation of problems will often mitigate the severity of any loss which may ultimately be incurred. In connection with these efforts, he has dealt with environmental and other analyses as may be required to protect our clients’ interests.

The above illustrations are merely representative of matters or issues handled by John. He has represented numerous sureties, contractors, owners and others requiring expertise in complex commercial contracts and disputes.

Practice Areas:

  • Construction Law
  • Surety and Fidelity Law
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Construction Litigation
  • Arbitration and Mediation
  • Commercial Contract Litigation
  • Environmental Litigation

Court Admissions:

  • New York
  • U.S. District Court, Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western Districts of New York
  • Western District of Texas
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit and Fifth Circuit


  • Settling the Hard-Fought Case“, For The Defense, Defense Research Institute, Fidelity and Surety Section, March 2014, Co-Author
  • “ConsensusDocs Contract Documents Handbook, Aspen Publishers, 2012, Chapter Author
    • ConsensusDocs 500, Standard Agreement and General Conditions Between Owner and Construction Manager (Where the CM is At-Risk)”, Chapter 7
    • ConsensusDocs 801, Standard  Owner and Construction Manager Agreement (Where the Construction Manager is the Owner’s Agent and Enters Into Trade Contracts)”, Chapter 9

Speaking Engagements:

  • Best Practices for MWBE & DBE Utilization Compliance, Webinar, Associated General Contractors of New York State, October, 2015
  • Construction Defect Disputes & Litigation; Exclusions: Court Interpretation and Litigation Strategy; Litigating the Construction Defect Claim: Coverage vs. Liability; National Business Institute; Rochester, New York, December 4, 2015

Noteworthy Cases:

  • RLI Insurance Co. v. New York State Department of Labor, 740 N.Y.S.2d 272 (2002)
  • CNP Mechanical, Inc. v. Allied Builders, Inc., 84 A.D.3d 1748 (4th Dept. 2011)
  • ECOR Solutions, Inc. v. Malcolm Pirnie, Inc., No. 02-CV-1103 (GTE/DRH), 2009 WL 242 4553 (N.D.N.Y. 2009) aff’d ECOR Solutions, Inc. v. Malcolm Pirnie, Inc., 2009 WL 242 4552 (N.D.N.Y. 2009)
  • Westbank Contracting, Inc. v. Rondout Valley Central School District, 21 Misc.3d 1135A (Sup. Ct. Ulster Co., 2007)
  • Schultz Construction, Inc. v. Franbilt, Inc., 14 A.D.2d 895 (3d Dept. 2005)
  • Smith Bros. Construction Co. v. New York Surety Co., 236 A.D.2d 799 (4th Dept. 1997)
  • Reliance Insurance Co. v. County of Monroe, 604 N.Y.S.2d 439 (4th Dept. 1993)

Professional Associations:

  • New York State Bar Association
  • American Bar Association (Construction Litigation Committee, Litigation Section; Public Contract Law Section; Fidelity and Surety Law Committee of the Tort and Insurance Practice Section and Toxic and Hazardous Substances and Environmental Law Committee, Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice Section)
  • Forum on the Construction Industry
  • National Bond Claims Association


  • Fellow, Construction Lawyers Society of America.
  • Martindale.com; AV Preeminent Rating
  • Super Lawyers; Upstate New York; Construction Litigation
  • Rochester Business Journal/Best Lawyers, October, 2015