In a very recently published case dealing with issues of first impression in California, here, the Second Appellate District in Los Angeles determined that the disgorgement penalty under BPC 7031(b) triggers a one-year statute of limitations given that it is a penalty, and the cause of action accrues from either the completion or cessation
If you do not follow the Oregon legislature closely, you may have missed a new law, which went into effect January 1, 2020, that impacts the treatment of retainage on private and public construction projects over $500,000.
For private and public construction contracts entered into on or after January 1, 2020 that include a contract…
Scammers are always seeking new ways to target victims for Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams, where they leverage email to try to convince you to give them credentials, send them confidential information like W2s, send them money by changing things like direct deposit instructions, or give any other data that can help them profit from committing fraud. They are getting more and more sophisticated in their deceptions, and targeting those areas they see as ‘weak links.’
Construction companies however face a particular threat, as there are a number of services and private and government web sites to which companies can subscribe to learn about construction projects that are open to bid. Often, the winning bidder ends up becoming public knowledge – either because that information is posted publicly, or because the contract company advertises they were awarded the project. And of course, these contracts always carry a price tag that is attractive to scammers.
Fraudsters can use information from these same web sites along with other research to learn which construction companies have applied for and ultimately won bids. The higher the price tag, the bigger the target. Once the scammers get their fake web site set up (they can use tools to copy the real contractor’s web site almost exactly), they’ll then send an email to the victim posing as the contractor, including a direct deposit form (likely doctored with the contractor’s logo) and instructions to change payment information to a new account controlled by the scammers. They might even try to play this trick on the construction company and pose as a vendor the construction company regularly pays. Once the money is transferred, it can be difficult – and often impossible – to recover. Even if the victim has cyber insurance, whether or not any losses are covered depends on the policy. Any access and information they obtain can also compromise the construction company’s information security, potentially increasing the likelihood of privacy breaches, ransomware attacks, or other serious security risks.
In Nova Contracting, Inc. v. City of Olympia, No. 94711-2 (Wash. Sept. 29, 2018), the Washington Supreme Court, sitting en banc, ruled in favor of a municipality on the issue of whether the general contractor complied with a contract’s notice of claim provision. Relying on Mike M. Johnson, Inc. v. Spokane County, 150 Wn.2d 375, 78 P.3d 161 (2003), the court in Nova Contracting held that a broad notice of claim provision (waiving “any claims” for noncompliance) (a) mandates written, rather than actual, notice of claims and (b) applies not only to claims for cost of work performed, but also to claims for (i) expectancy and consequential damages and (ii) breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Slip op. at 2-3, 15.
The case arose from certain disputes between the City of Olympia (the “City”) and a contractor (“NOVA”) in connection with a public works contract in which the contractor agreed to replace an aging cement culvert. The contract contained a “notice of protest” provision from the Washington State Department of Transportation’s standard specifications. This provision required the contractor to “‘give a signed written notice of protest’ ‘[i]mmediately’ if it ‘disagree[d] with anything required in a change order, another written order, or an oral order from the [City] Engineer, including any direction, instruction, interpretation, or determination by the Engineer.’” Id. at 1-2.
During Seattle’s current construction boom, general contractors and subcontractors may be concentrating more on finalizing work on their projects than on worrying about the niceties of their construction contract documents. It is no less prudent now, however, for the parties to remain aware of their contractual rights and responsibilities—especially those tied to payment. One payment term commonly contained in subcontract agreements is the contingent payment provision, which, depending on its terms, may pose an interesting challenge to construction lien rights.
Contingent payment provisions (e.g., “pay-if-paid” or “pay-when-paid” clauses) are frequently inserted in subcontract agreements. The hallmark of pay-if-paid clauses is usually “condition precedent” language, where the general contractor and subcontractor expressly agree that the general contractor’s receipt of payment from the owner is a condition precedent to payment by the general contractor to the subcontractor. Under this clause, the subcontractor assumes the risk of non-payment by the owner. On the other hand, pay-when-paid clauses have been interpreted to delay the subcontractor’s entitlement to payment until the owner pays, or for some reasonable time if the owner does not pay.
In the recently issued but unpublished decision Reed v. SunRun, Inc. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. BC498002, Feb. 2, 2018), the Second District Court of Appeal ruled that a solar power purchase agreement (“PPA”) provider that only sells solar energy to homeowners is not required to be a licensed California contractor under certain…
As the construction boom continues in Washington (and especially in Seattle), owners and developers look for ways to mitigate risk on projects. Risk mitigation is often accomplished through negotiated terms and conditions of the parties’ contractual agreements. In my latest Daily Journal of Commerce article, I explore the validity of advance contractual lien releases and…
An access easement is a key link in the legal chain when builders need to cross another’s land to develop property. A poorly drafted easement could hobble an entire development. Counsel should always be consulted to avoid the crippling impact of a development held hostage. Here are eight tips to remember in reviewing an access easement where the developer is seeking easement rights.
The shared risk/reward concept of an integrated project delivery (IPD) arrangement is an increasingly attractive collaborative approach to construction projects. But IPD is still a relatively new concept with unique risks and challenges. In my recent article for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I discuss some key points that should be considered before undertaking …
A letter of intent (“LOI”) is often the first document in a proposed deal – a summary of a range of key terms or concepts for negotiation toward entering into a final, formal agreement. But what seems like a simple document can be much more than a mere list of possible terms to be discussed by the parties, and might just result in a final agreement in one side’s sole discretion. In some cases, an LOI can be an enforceable agreement to negotiate in good faith toward a final agreement based, at least in part, on its stated terms. Even those LOIs that specifically say they are non-binding may, in fact, be binding. For instance, an LOI could be enforceable in its own right if all material terms of a final agreement are set out in the LOI and the parties’ conduct suggests they treated the LOI as a final agreement. Rather than being a “safe haven” that can be terminated at will without liability, an LOI can present great risk and unintended consequences to the parties if not recognized and handled with care. Missteps in documentation and/or subsequent conduct of the parties along the way could result in blown deals and damages. Even an otherwise carefully and clearly drafted LOI may not be free from risk or unintended consequences.