Karl Oles

Karl Oles

Karl Oles taught philosophy before switching to law. It shows in his ability to understand and explain complex legal issues. Many of his favorite clients are from the construction industry (owners, designers and contractors), interesting and well-meaning people who deserve protection from those who would treat them unfairly. Recent legal accomplishments include helping King County (Washington) recover over $140 million from a defaulting contractor and co-writing a book that explains Washington construction lien law in ordinary language (available for free by following this link). He has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America© for Litigation-Construction from 2013 to 2017. He recently completed a 45-mile hike through the rugged Olympic Mountains and has pictures to prove it.

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What’s Up with Bertha?

Regular readers of this blog know that Stoel Rives represents the State of Washington Department of Transportation (“WSDOT”) with regard to construction of the new highway 99 tunnel in downtown Seattle. The giant tunnel boring machine, named “Bertha” (not “Big Bertha” as is sometimes reported), finished its work in April and is now undergoing a … Continue Reading

Design-Build Certification

One should never stop learning, so next week I will attend a three-day seminar presented by the Design-Build Institute of America. If I complete the seminar and pass a test, I will become a Designated Design-Build Professional.  The DBIA has an informative page about certification on its website. In preparation for the seminar, I completed … Continue Reading

Construction Successes in the Seattle Area

It seems that lawyers spend a lot of time dealing with problems and crises, but it is healthy to celebrate successes as well. Here are a few things around Seattle that we can celebrate. Sound Transit continues its expansion of the light rail system. The station next to Husky Stadium opened in March, connecting folks … Continue Reading

Expect the Best, Prepare for the Worst – Drafting Construction or Design Contracts

When embarking on a new design or construction contract, all parties hope the road will be smooth and that any bumps can be handled by agreement. However, real disputes do occur.  When they do, a well-crafted contract can provide rules for resolution.  It is best to formulate those rules before disputes arise.  In my recent … Continue Reading

An Introduction to Design-Build for Public Project Delivery

Design-build is growing in popularity with public owners. But it presents challenges and potential pitfalls for the unwary. In my recent article for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I address some of those challenges and pitfalls and offer considerations that go into a successful design-build project.  Read the full article here. “An Introduction to Design-Build … Continue Reading

Lien Rights of Employee Benefit Plans Clarified in Washington

A question left open in Stoel Rives’ recent Washington lien law treatise relates to the lien rights of employee benefit plans. The rights granted in RCW 60.04.011(4) (where benefit plans are included in the definition of “furnishing labor”) were called into question by two Washington Supreme Court decisions barring employee benefit plans from pursuing lien-like … Continue Reading

Lien Rights of Architects and Engineers

In my latest Daily Journal of Commerce Construction column, I discuss the construction lien rights for architects and engineers in Washington and Oregon.  In these states, once construction lien rights have arisen the law requires further acts (such as sending notices to the project owner or recording formal notices within specific time frames) to keep … Continue Reading

Announcing a New Washington Lien Law Treatise

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new Stoel Rives Washington state lien law treatise. Written by construction law attorneys Karl Oles and Bart Reed, the treatise builds on two earlier works: Professor Brian A. Blum’s Mechanics’ and Construction Liens in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, and Michael F. Keyes Construction Lien Practice and … Continue Reading

Seattle Tunneling Machine Bertha Makes National News

The City of Seattle is replacing the two-level highway viaduct that dominates the downtown shoreline with a two-level tunnel. A very large tunnel boring machine, named Bertha in honor of an early Seattle mayor, has been excavating the tunnel for several months. In December, Bertha encountered an unknown obstruction and came to a halt. Seattleites … Continue Reading

Don’t Threaten Me!

A 2013 decision from New York reminds us that threats can be costly. In Mometal Structures, Inc. v. T.A. Ahern Contractors Corp., from the Eastern District of New York, Mometal was hired by Ahern as structural steel subcontractor. The project was delayed for reasons that were not Mometal’s fault. Mometal tried to get the information and approvals it … Continue Reading

Doing something about the weather

Mark Twain once said, “everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”  In my latest article in the Daily Journal of Commerce, I argue that, in fact, owners and contractors have a chance to do something about the weather when they write their contracts. Incorporating a contingency amount into a work bid … Continue Reading

Another Interesting Project in Seattle

I previously told you about some upcoming Seattle tunneling projects. Here now is a link to artist renderings of the new SR 520 floating bridge project, which will raise the existing bridge up above the pontoons, making space for maintenance works and storm water treatment and fire suppression utilities underneath: www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/6871707294/in/set-72157629307832804/   The photo site has links … Continue Reading

Lots of Tunnels in Progress

Drivers from Ballard to West Seattle are familiar with the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel project. As they drive to and from downtown, they notice that the southern end of the Viaduct has been removed to make way for work on the south portal. But the Viaduct replacement project is not the only big tunnel … Continue Reading

Live Blog From ABA Forum Meeting – Part 1

2/1/2012; 4:37 p.m. I’m heading down to Houston for a meeting of the ABA Forum on the Construction Industry.  You can learn about the Forum on the ABA website. It has subdivisions that focus on various interests such as insurance, owners and lenders, etc. I’ll try to "live blog" from the meeting, describing papers of interest that … Continue Reading

Washington Supreme Court Reverses Williams

In Williams v. Athletic Field, Inc., 155 Wn. App. 434 (2010), the Washington Court of Appeals ruled that a lien filing was invalid because it was not properly acknowledged. This decision created a stir among Washington construction lawyers, because the lien claimant had used a lien filing service which in turn had used a form … Continue Reading

Keep An Eye On This Major Seattle Project

On January 6, 2011, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) signed a contract with Seattle Tunnel Partners for the biggest piece of the SR 99 Viaduct replacement project, the 1.7 mile long tunnel carrying traffic from the south end of the Seattle waterfront to near the Seattle Center.  This is a design-build contract with … Continue Reading

Washington Supreme Court Re-Examines Economic Loss Rule

The Economic Loss Rule plays an important part in construction disputes, but it has not been clearly defined or understood, or so the Washington Supreme Court has recently stated. The Economic Loss Rule has been generally described as applying to “economic damages” in cases where the plaintiff has a contract that addresses or could reasonably address the … Continue Reading

Washington Court Holds Statute of Limitations Doesn’t Apply to Arbitration

  Contributor:  Stephen P. Kelly In Broom v. Morgan Stanley DW, Inc., the Washington State Supreme Court held that state statute of limitations did not apply to a contractual arbitration. The arbitrators of an investment-related dispute had dismissed certain claims because plaintiffs failed to bring them before the applicable statutes of limitations lapsed. Analyzing the Washington statute of … Continue Reading

Government Involvement Has Consequences (Part 2)

Here is list of laws that may apply to projects in which the federal government is involved. These reflections about government involvement are prompted by recent changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulations that give federal contractors an affirmative duty to disclose any “credible evidence” that comes to their attention of (a) the violation of certain criminal … Continue Reading

Government Involvement Has Consequences (Part 1)

In an effort to stimulate the economy, federal and state government agencies are seeking to promote new construction projects. This trend of government involvement in construction projects is likely to continue. When the government is involved, it is important to know whether this involvement causes public contracting laws to apply. Governmental involvement in a construction … Continue Reading
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