Category: Construction Claims

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Five Questions an Owner Should Ask About Insurance and Bonds

Contractors often have limited liquid assets, so insurance and bonding are often the best resources available to an owner to protect against contractor default or defective work. However, not all policies and bonds are created equal, and owners should make sure these resources provide the security the owner needs. In my recent article for the … Continue Reading

Finishing Strong vs. Finishing Wrong: Tips & Traps for Project Completion

Complex construction projects carry complex problems as they approach completion. In my recent article for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I address 10 potential pitfalls that owners, contractors and design professionals may encounter, and I offer tips to help you prepare for them. Read the full article here. “Finishing Strong vs. Finishing Wrong: Tips & … Continue Reading

10 Important Termination Considerations

When terminating a contract, you want to have a high degree of confidence that termination is justified and done properly. In my recent Daily Journal of Commerce Construction column, I outline 10 important considerations in navigating this high-risk terrain. Read the full article here. “10 Important Termination Considerations” was originally published on Feburary 20, 2015 by … Continue Reading

All is Not Well with Oregon’s ELL

In my latest Daily Journal of Commerce Construction column, I discuss Oregon’s Employer’s Liability Law or the ELL, workers’ compensation and why the Oregon legislature should take another look at these piecemeal laws. As it stands, the party with the greatest culpability may not pay anything for the injuries they cause. Read the full article here. … Continue Reading

Put In Writing When the Clock Starts Ticking

In my recent article “Put in Writing When the Clock Starts Ticking,” I discuss how varying intrepretations statue of limitations can affect your business. Setting your own time limits on claims in your construction contracts can help you manage risk. Read the full article here. “Put in Writing When the Clock Starts Ticking” was originally … Continue Reading

Multi-Family Sellers Beware: Don’t “Alienate” Your Project from Insurance Coverage for Construction Defects

The apartment business is booming right now. Unfortunately, construction defects persist as well, particularly in garden-style and wood-framed construction. Most developers are savvy enough to maintain a good insurance program, but many do not understand (until too late) that the policies they bought may not cover the risk of construction defects.  As an owner-developer, neither your property … 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

Owners: Watch Out for New Endorsements

The new year brings a reminder that owners need to be careful about changes to their contractors’ and designers’ insurance policies. Many of the most important terms of an insurance policy are in “endorsements” added to the policy. For example, a policy may include an endorsement excluding claims between insured parties (say, a claim by … Continue Reading

Bah Humbug: California Supreme Court Won’t Hear Dispute Arising From Overbroad SB800 Decision

You may have recently heard that on December 11, 2013, the California Supreme Court denied the builder’s Petition for Review of the published decision in Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Brookfield Crystal Cove LLC, 163 Cal. Rptr. 3d 600, Cal. App. 4th 98 (2013). For builders and contractors, this is very frustrating news and undermines the … Continue Reading

Pay Attention to Your Contract Terms and Scope – Recent Washington Supreme Court Decision Reshapes Independent Duty Doctrine

In a recent case, Donatelli v. D.R. Strong Consulting Engineers, Inc., 312 P.3d 620 (Wash. 2013), a sharply divided 5-4 opinion by the Washington Supreme Court provides further evidence that the line between Washington’s “economic loss” rule and “independent duty” doctrine remains quite blurred.  The case arose out of an agreement between property owners, the … Continue Reading

The Vexing Date of Substantial Completion: Oregon Supreme Court to Consider Two Cases Addressing When Statutes of Limitation and Ultimate Repose Begin to Run

The Oregon Supreme Court will review two recent Court of Appeals decisions related to statutes of limitation and repose on construction projects. In the first case, Sunset Presbyterian Church v. Brockamp & Jaeger, Inc., the Oregon Supreme Court will address the following questions: (1) When the construction contract includes an accrual provision, is the statute … Continue Reading

Beware the Economic Loss Trap in Construction Disputes

The Oregon Court of Appeals recently applied the so-called “economic loss rule” to a construction dispute (Marton v. Ater Construction Co., 256 Or App 554, __ P3d __ (2013)). Among other issues, the court decided whether the prime contractor’s negligence claim against its subcontractor was barred under the economic loss rule. Under the court-made economic … Continue Reading

Sophisticated Parties? You May Shorten Both the Start and Length of the Statute of Limitations in CA Commercial Construction Contracts

Can parties waive both the commencement and length of the statutory limitation periods for construction defect actions?  Yes, answered the Fourth Appellate District, by allowing the parties to contractually preclude the application of the “delayed discovery” rule that normally triggers the commencement of the limitation time period and affirming case law permitting the shortening of … 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

The Case for Construction Claims Reform

In my latest Daily Journal of Commerce Construction column, I discuss the case for construction claims reform. Construction industry participants all have one thing in common: they hate litigation. While avoiding claims is not always possible, the number of disputed issues can be reduced. Some states have enacted statutes eliminating much of the uncertainty surrounding … Continue Reading

ADA Claims: The Buck Stops with Developers

In my latest Daily Journal of Commerce Construction column, I discuss tips for developers to help handle claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the column, I recommend several mitigation efforts to reduce liability for ADA defects including: hire vendors with a track record of compliance and competence, verify that all participants insurance policies … Continue Reading

New for 2013! California Form Interrogatories – Construction Litigation (DISC-005)

Any construction litigation party faced with responding to California’s standard form interrogatories is all too familiar with the confusing use of the undefined term “incident” and the largely inapplicable “personal injury” interrogatories in a construction case. Similarly, any construction litigator dealing with the standard form interrogatories has felt the burden of sifting through the plethora of … Continue Reading

Nevada Lenders Beware! Mechanic’s Liens Not Easily Avoided

Following the market crash in 2008-09, the $2.8 billion Fontainebleau development in Las Vegas was halted with 70 percent of the construction completed. Naturally, numerous mechanic’s liens were filed by contractors, subcontractors, professionals and suppliers ("claimants"). In the bankruptcy proceeding, the lenders asserted novel and potentially legally destabilizing theories against the claimants’ rights: a.) the … Continue Reading

Oregon Construction Law Seminar

On September 20 & 21, 2012, The Seminar Group will present its 17th Annual Oregon Construction Law seminar in Portland, Oregon. I will be speaking at the seminar about frequently negotiated provisions in owner-contractor and owner-architect agreements, including waivers of consequential damages, indemnification, insurance, warranties and claims. Two additional Stoel Rives’ partners will be speaking … Continue Reading

Oregon’s Prompt Pay Acts Strengthened and Clarified in 2012

Parties to construction contracts take notice:  the legislature enacted new consequences and contract restrictions to Oregon’s Prompt Pay Acts starting in 2012.                On public improvement contracts first advertised or solicited on or after May 28, 2012, the newly revised Act (a) changes the interest penalty rate for a prime contractor’s failure to make timely payment … Continue Reading

The Increasing Importance of Performance Bonds

There are now 25 states in the U.S. that hold that construction defects are not an “occurrence” and are therefore not covered under commercial general liability policies insuring contractors.  Couple this troubling statistic with the ever increasing number of policy exclusions and limitations, and we begin to realize that in many situations the contractor’s insurance … 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

Be careful what you ask for Idaho

In the last two decades, the Idaho State Legislature has authorized design-build contracting for many different types of public projects. It appears that the Legislature will continue this trend for highway projects. In February, a House committee voted to print a bill that would allow the Idaho Transportation Department (IDT) to award design-build contracts for highway projects.  … Continue Reading
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