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.