Public Construction Contracting

On November 4, 2016, my colleague, Andrew Gibson (from the Portland office of Stoel Rives), and I will co-chair a joint OSBA/WSBA construction law CLE, entitled Two States of Construction Law: Working in Both Washington and Oregon, located at the Heathman Lodge in Vancouver, Washington. This seminar will include a panel of knowledgeable lawyers

Contractors who bid on public projects that utilize federal money  can be surprised by additional administrative requirements they do not usually find in their contracts.  In my recent article for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I discuss one of those requirements that may require you to disclose  subcontractor agreements, and what you can do

Indemnity provisions are often among the most negotiated and least understood provisions of commercial contracts, and construction contracts are no exception to this rule. Despite, and perhaps because of, the importance of these clauses, they have evolved into an almost impenetrable jumble of legal terminology.

This jumble of words is not, however, without meaning. Although

It has long been the case that the California Air Resources Board (“ARB”) and each of California’s local Air Quality Management Districts (“AQMDs”) may regulate sources of portable emissions. However, about two decades ago, the legislature recognized that it was often impractical and too costly for businesses traveling throughout the state to acquire permits for

On November 9, 2015, Division One of the Court of Appeals affirmed a 2012 King County trial court judgment that joint-venture tunneling contractor Vinci Construction Grands Projets/Parsons RCI/Frontier-Kemper (VPFK) was liable to King County for $144 million in damages and attorney fees.

The case arose from the Brightwater project, a wastewater treatment plant north of Woodinville with a tunnel system that conveys wastewater to the plant and treated water to a marine outfall in Puget Sound. VPFK was awarded a $212 million contract to build two segments of the 13-mile tunnel system. Unfortunately, VPFK’s two tunnel-boring machines broke down several hundred feet beneath Lake Forest Park and Bothell. The machines required extensive repairs that threatened to delay the completion of the overall project.

VPFK repaired one machine and completed one tunnel segment, but King County did not accept the lengthy delay and additional cost proposed for the repair of the second machine. King County hired Jay Dee Coluccio to complete the remaining tunnel segment between Shoreline and Lake Forest Park. The Brightwater project began full operation in late 2012.

King County sued VPFK and its sureties for approximately $156 million, based on its costs arising from project delays and design modifications. VPFK counterclaimed for approximately $70 million, arguing that its delays were excused by differing site conditions and defective project design. King County acknowledged some of VPFK’s claims totaling about $4.7 million.

After a nearly three-month trial, the jury awarded $156 million in damages to King County, offset by $26 million to VPFK for its counterclaims. The court awarded King County its attorney/expert fees in the approximate amount of $14 million, for a net judgment of $144 million.

The trial and appeal involved a number of interesting issues, two of which are summarized here.

Developing public projects in Oregon requires an understanding of the Oregon Public Contracting Code and the complexities of procurement requirements. In my recent article for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I discuss four facets of public contracting that can help you successfully navigate the procurement terrain.  Read the full article here.

“Public Contracting

The Idaho Supreme Court recently determined in Idaho Power Company v. New Energy Two, LLC, No. 40882-2013 (Idaho June 17, 2014), that the Idaho Public Utilities Commission has jurisdiction to interpret or enforce contracts when given the authority by the parties. In May 2010, IPC and the defendants entered into two energy contracts that were to be completed by a date certain. In advance of the operational dates, the defendants notified IPC of events they claimed were force majeure. Markedly, the defendants’ claim was that the decision-making process of the PUC itself, or the alleged lack thereof, was the force majeure event causing lenders to be “unwilling to lend in Idaho pending the outcome” of the PUC proceedings. IPC filed petitions with the PUC seeking a ruling that there was no force majeure event(s), and that IPC could terminate the contracts. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss that was denied, and the Idaho Supreme Court heard the issue on a permissive appeal.

Residential and non-residential contractors in California have been waiting for the new California energy-related regulations to be issued for the January 1, 2014 compliance deadline.  Although many became effective on January 1, delays in the software performance compliance programs by the California Energy Commission required that additional time be provided for contractors to obtain and

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