John W. Dreste

Top rated construction litigation attorney in Rochester, New York

Ernstrom & Dreste, LLP
John W. Dreste
Ernstrom & Dreste, LLP

Practice Areas: Construction litigation, Surety, Alternative dispute resolution; view more

Licensed in New York since: 1985

Education: University at Buffalo Law School - SUNY

Selected to Super Lawyers: 2010 - 2022

Ernstrom & Dreste, LLP

925 Clinton Square
Rochester, NY 14604 Visit website


John W. Dreste is a partner at Ernstrom & Dreste, LLP, in Rochester, New York, serving clients across the Rochester metro and upstate New York. He concentrates his practice on commercial contract litigation, focusing on the fields of construction contract law, suretyship, fidelity and environmental law. His practice, though litigation oriented, involves extensive claims analysis and investigation, and includes negotiation, mediation and other informal methods of dispute resolution.  

Additionally, Mr. Dreste serves as a mediator and arbitrator through the American Arbitration Association in construction industry disputes. He has represented numerous contractors, owners, sureties and others in complex commercial contracts and disputes. An avid author and speaker, he has lectured and has written several articles on subjects pertinent to the surety and construction industries. 

Mr. Dreste has handled a number of high-profile matters, including multimillion-dollar claims asserted by and against clients on major construction projects.  He most recently obtained a full verdict in favor of a contractor for differing site conditions on a bridge project, along with an award of fees. Moreover, he has historically had success in defenses based on fraudulent inducement.  

A well-respected and knowledgeable attorney, Mr. Dreste has represented various Brazilian corporations in matters that involve railroad and oil production projects, and publicity rights in the United States and Brazil. Furthermore, he regularly counsels clients and handles contractor workouts and troubleshoots potential defaults or claim situations. He believes that aggressive and independent early investigation of problems will often mitigate the severity of any loss, which may ultimately be incurred. 

After completing his undergraduate studies with high honors from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1981, Mr. Dreste earned his law degree from the University at Buffalo in 1984. The following year, he gained his license to practice in New York and before the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western Districts of New York, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd and 5th Circuit.

Recognized by his peers and clients for his professionalism and high ethical standards, Mr. Dreste has been rated AV Preeminent* through Martindale-Hubbell and holds a “Very Good” rating on Avvo. He has been elected as a fellow of the Construction Lawyers Society of America and added to the Rochester Business Journal’s Best Lawyers list. His professional affiliations include the New York State Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the National Bond Claims Association. 

*AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell Distinguished and Martindale-Hubbell Notable are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell® is the facilitator of a peer-review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.

Practice areas

Construction litigation: business, Surety, Alternative dispute resolution, Civil litigation: defense, Environmental litigation, Insurance coverage

Focus areas

Construction defects, Fidelity, guarantee & surety, Arbitration, Mediation, Insurance, Bad faith insurance, Insurance defense

First Admitted: 1985, New York

Professional Webpage:

  • Fellow, Construction Lawyers Society of America.
  • Rochester Business Journal/Best Lawyers, October, 2015
  • Super Lawyers; Upstate New York; Construction Litigation
  •; AV Preeminent Rating
  • RLI Insurance Co. v. New York State Department of Labor, 740 N.Y.S.2d 272 (2002)
  • Reliance Insurance Co. v. County of Monroe, 604 N.Y.S.2d 439 (4th Dept. 1993)
  • Smith Bros. Construction Co. v. New York Surety Co., 236 A.D.2d 799 (4th Dept. 1997)
  • Schultz Construction, Inc. v. Franbilt, Inc., 14 A.D.2d 895 (3d Dept. 2005)
  • Westbank Contracting, Inc. v. Rondout Valley Central School District, 21 Misc.3d 1135A (Sup. Ct. Ulster Co., 2007)
  • 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)
  • CNP Mechanical, Inc. v. Allied Builders, Inc., 84 A.D.3d 1748 (4th Dept. 2011)
  • Obtained full reversal and dismissal of a million dollar wage underpayment finding in a case of first impression, based on fact that a Project had zero public funding Obtained a full verdict in favor of a contractor for differing site conditions encountered during a bridge reconstruction Project, 2017
Scholarly Lectures/Writings:
  • 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
  • Author, Chapter 9, ConsensusDOCS 801: Standard Owner and Construction Manager Agreement (Where the Construction Manager is the Owner's Agent and Enters into Trade Contracts) ConsensusDOCS Contract Documents Handbook, 2012
  • Author, The New York State "Infrastructure Investment Act': The Associated General Contractors New York State Cornerstone, 2012
  • Author, Settling the Hard-Fought Case, For The Defense March 2014, Defense Research Institute
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • New York
  • National Bond Claims Association
  • Forum on the Construction Industry
  • 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)
  • New York State Bar Association
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court, Western Districts of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern Districts of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Southern Districts of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Northern Districts of New York
Educational Background:
  • Rochester Institute of Technology, B.S., High Honors, May 1981
Representative Clients:
  • Available on request
Industry Groups:
  • Construction

Office location for John W. Dreste

925 Clinton Square
Rochester, NY 14604

Phone: 585-473-3100


13 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2010 - 2022

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