In a case of first impression in Washington, the Washington State Supreme Court held that a landowner may satisfy its duty to guard an invitee “against known or obvious dangers on the premises by delegating the duty of protection to an independent contractor.”  Eylander v. Prologis Targeted U.S. Logistics Fund, LP, 539 P.3d

Purchase agreements for construction, development, or real estate-related projects frequently offer parties the option of early mediation for settling a dispute before proceeding to arbitration or court litigation. While in my experience early mediation sessions tend to fail, additional mediation sessions held months later have a better chance of succeeding. In my latest column for

Washington’s construction lien statute, RCW 60.04, balances the interests of persons performing work to improve real property with the interests of property owners in avoiding the necessity of paying for the same work twice. An unpaid contractor can assert a lien against property it has improved, but the owner has a right to notice that the work is taking place. On commercial projects, a contractor that is not under contract with the owner or prime contractor (a “lower-tier” subcontractor) usually must give a pre-claim notice to the owner to preserve its lien right. A contractor supplying only labor is expressly exempt from this requirement, though there has been some question regarding whether a lower-tier subcontractor providing both labor and materials is subject to the notice requirement.

Construction contracts generally outline when and how contractors should notify parties about potential claims for additional compensation and/or time. These provisions are intended to provide project stakeholders with the information necessary to address unforeseen circumstances and streamline claim resolutions within the project rather than resorting to legal actions. However, in some cases, the contract provisions

In their focus on starting a construction project, developers, designers, and contractors can fall prey to unintended consequences arising from their deferral to and use of an “industry standard” contract form—as opposed to taking the time to precisely tailor the contract to the project’s needs and risks. In my latest article for the Daily Journal

The party responding to a proposed design or construction contract may satisfy itself that the contract proposes arbitration or litigation to resolve any disputes and leave it at that—as long as the method of resolution is generally aligned with the party’s preferences. In order to eliminate surprises for their clients if a dispute arises and

A construction project can be delayed for a multitude of reasons. Where the cause of the delay is not force majeure, or other excusable delay by a contractor, and where the contractor has some fault, what level of actions must a contractor take to satisfy the terms “best efforts” or “reasonable efforts” or “commercially reasonable

When reviewing a proposed design or construction contract, the responding party will often do a cursory check to see whether the contract proposes arbitration or litigation for dispute resolution. So long as the proposed method generally aligns with that party’s preferences, it will not look further at the specifics of the proposed process. For the uninitiated, this can lead to surprises when a dispute arises, especially when it comes to issues like whether the arbitration will be held before a single arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators, the rules that will apply to the arbitration, and the scope of discovery.

Construction and design attorneys, on the other hand, spend many working hours (and sometimes nonworking hours) contemplating these exact issues. I have developed a checklist of items that I advise my clients to consider in their arbitration provisions. The combined goal of these considerations is eliminating surprises if a dispute arises and balancing efficiency with the desire for a fair process. Typically, that checklist includes the following topics:

  • Rules applicable to the arbitration
  • Single arbitrator or panel of arbitrators?
  • Scope of discovery
  • Maximizing opportunity for resolution in a single proceeding

The full article, including details on each of these topics can be found at What Parties Ought To Consider When Considering Arbitration Provisions | Stoel Rives LLP.

This article was originally published in by the Daily Journal of Commerce on April 20, 2023.