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    Washington Builders Right To Repair Current Law Summary:

    Current Law Summary: (SB 5536) The legislature passed a contractor protection bill that reduces contractors' exposure to lawsuits to six years from 12, and gives builders seven "affirmative defenses" to counter defect complaints from homeowners. Claimant must provide notice no later than 45 days before filing action; within 21 days of notice of claim, "construction professional" must serve response; claimant must accept or reject inspection proposal or settlement offer within 30 days; within 14 days following inspection, construction pro must serve written offer to remedy/compromise/settle; claimant can reject all offers; statutes of limitations are tolled until 60 days after period of time during which filing of action is barred under section 3 of the act. This law applies to single-family dwellings and condos.


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    A license is required for plumbing, and electrical trades. Businesses must register with the Secretary of State.


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    MBuilders Association of King & Snohomish Counties
    Local # 4955
    335 116th Ave SE
    Bellevue, WA 98004

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    Local # 4944
    5251 Auto Ctr Way
    Bremerton, WA 98312

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    Local # 4966
    5813 E 4th Ave Ste 201
    Spokane, WA 99212

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    Local # 4957
    PO Box 2065
    Wenatchee, WA 98801

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    Local # 4977
    PO Box 1913 Suite 301
    Tacoma, WA 98401

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    Port Angeles, WA 98362
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    Port Hadlock, WA 98339

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    Building Consultant News and Information
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    SEATTLE WASHINGTON BUILDING CONSULTANT
    DIRECTORY AND CAPABILITIES

    The Seattle, Washington Building Consultant Group at BHA, leverages from the experience gained through more than 5,500 construction related expert witness designations encompassing a wide spectrum of construction related disputes. Leveraging from this considerable body of experience, BHA provides construction related trial support and expert services to Seattle's most recognized construction litigation practitioners, commercial general liability carriers, owners, construction practice groups, as well as a variety of state and local government agencies.

    Building Consultant News & Info
    Seattle, Washington

    Pennsylvania Superior Court Fires up a Case-By-Case Analysis for Landlord-Tenant, Implied Co-Insured Questions

    February 03, 2020 —
    In Joella v. Cole, 2019 PA Super. 313, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently considered whether a tenant, alleged by the landlord’s property insurance carrier to have carelessly caused a fire, was an implied co-insured on the landlord’s policy. The court found that the tenant was an implied co-insured because the lease stated that the landlord would procure insurance for the building, which created a reasonable expectation that the tenant would be a co-insured under the policy. Since the tenant was an implied co-insured on the policy, the insurance carrier could not maintain a subrogation action against the tenant. This case confirms that Pennsylvania follows a case-by-case approach when determining whether a tenant was an implied co-insured on a landlord’s insurance policy. The Joella case stems from a fire at an apartment building in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. The landlord’s property insurance carrier paid the landlord $180,000 to repair the damages resulting from the fire. In March 2018, the insurer brought a subrogation action against Annie Cole, a tenant in the building, alleging that Ms. Cole’s negligent use of an extension cord caused the fire. Ms. Cole raised the affirmative defense that she was an implied co-insured on the landlord’s insurance policy. The subrogating insurer filed a partial motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss Ms. Cole’s defense. In response, Ms. Cole filed a cross motion for partial judgment, arguing that because the lease specified that the landlord would maintain fire insurance for the building, there was a reasonable expectation that she would be a co-insured on that policy. The trial court found in favor of Ms. Cole, holding that the landlord’s insurer could not maintain a subrogation action against her because she was an implied co-insured of the landlord’s insurance policy under the terms of the lease. The landlord’s insurer filed an appeal with the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. Read the court decision
    Read the full story...
    Reprinted courtesy of Gus Sara, White and Williams
    Mr. Sara may be contacted at sarag@whiteandwilliams.com

    Insurer Must Defend Additional Insured Though Its Insured is a Non-Party

    November 18, 2019 —
    The plaintiff insurer's motion for partial summary judgment seeking an order that defendant insurer was obligated to defend a non-party as an additional insured was granted. Am Empire Surplus Lines Ins. Co. v. Burlington Ins. Co., 2019 N. Y. Misc. LEXIS 4145 (N. Y. Sup. Ct. July 25, 2019). Quality Building Construction, LLC was the contractor hired to work on exterior facade of a building owned by Central Park West Corporation. The underlying complaint alleged that Quality caused plastic spacers and pedestals used for the penthouse terrace to fall down the roof drain riser. A clog and rainwater backup resulted in water damage to apartment 8A. The resulting damage was allegedly due to the clogged roof drain riser. Quality subcontracted the work to Mega State, Inc. The subcontract required Mega to indemnify and hold Quality harmless against claims in connection with Mega's work, as well as name Quality as an additional insured on a primary, non-contributory bases under Mega's CGL policy. Burlington issued a policy to Mega naming Quality as an additional insured. American Empire issued a CGL policy to Quality. Quality was sued in the underlying action, but Mega was not. American Empire tendered a demand for coverage to Mega and Burlington, relying on the agreement between Quality and Mega. Burlington responded that Mega was not liable for the alleged damages. American Empire sued Burlington. Subsequently, Burlington accepted the tender to defend Quality in the underlying action, and reserved rights as to whether Burlington's policy was primary and on the question of indemnification. American Empire agreed to withdraw its suit if Burlington would modify its reservation of rights. Burlington refused. Read the court decision
    Read the full story...
    Reprinted courtesy of Tred R. Eyerly, Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert
    Mr. Eyerly may be contacted at te@hawaiilawyer.com

    More Hensel Phelps Ripples in the Statute of Limitations Pond?

    February 03, 2020 —
    As is always the case when I attend the Virginia State Bar’s annual construction law seminar, I come away from it with a few posts on recent cases and their implications. The first of these is not a construction case, but has implications relating to the state project related statute of limitations and indemnification issues for construction contracts brought out in stark relief in the now infamous Hensel Phelps case. In Radiance Capital Receivables Fourteen, LLC v. Foster the Court considered a waiver of the statute of limitations found in a loan contract. The operative facts are that the waiver was found in a Continuing Guaranty contract and that the default happened more than 5 years prior to the date that Radiance filed suit to enforce its rights. When the defendants filed a plea in bar stating that the statute of limitations had run and therefore the claim was barred, Radiance of course argued that the defendants had waived their right to bring such a defense. The defendants responded that the waiver was invalid in that it violated the terms of Va. Code 8.01-232 that states among other things:
    an unwritten promise not to plead the statute shall be void, and a written promise not to plead such statute shall be valid when (i) it is made to avoid or defer litigation pending settlement of any case, (ii) it is not made contemporaneously with any other contract, and (iii) it is made for an additional term not longer than the applicable limitations period.
    The Circuit Court and ultimately the Supreme Court agreed with the defendants. In doing so, the Virginia Supreme Court rejected arguments of estoppel and an argument that a “waiver” is not a “promise not to plead.” Read the court decision
    Read the full story...
    Reprinted courtesy of The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill
    Mr. Hill may be contacted at chrisghill@constructionlawva.com

    Traub Lieberman Attorneys Lisa M. Rolle and Vito John Marzano Secure Dismissal of Indemnification and Breach of Contract Claims Asserted against Subcontractor

    November 24, 2019 —
    On August 7, 2019, TLSS Partner Lisa M. Rolle and associate Vito John Marzano obtained a dismissal of all claims on behalf of their client, the subfloor subcontractor at the worksite, in a severed action filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Kings. In April 2014, plaintiff commenced suit against several defendants, including the general contractor, after he sustained an injury when he fell through temporary plywood while installing a staircase at a worksite in Brooklyn. In May 2018, plaintiff filed a note of issue and certified the matter as ready for trial. Immediately thereafter, the general contractor initiated a second third-party action against the subcontractor seeking common-law and contractual indemnification and breach of contract. The Court subsequently granted Traub Lieberman’s motion to sever the second third-party action and instructed the general contractor to file a new action. After the general contractor recommenced suit, Traub Lieberman, on behalf of its client, the subcontractor, immediately moved to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action. In relevant part, Traub Lieberman pointed to the deposition testimony of the general contractor’s principal to establish that the subcontractor had finished its work on the permanent subfloor no less ten months to over a year prior to plaintiff’s accident, and that the subfloor required no alteration, repair or maintenance prior to or as a result of plaintiff’s accident. Further, the general contractor’s testimony pointed to work performed by another subcontractor that directly resulted in plaintiff’s injuries. It was also brought to the Court’s attention that plaintiff had testified that he fell through a temporary plywood floor, and that the subcontractor had only installed a permanent subfloor. Reprinted courtesy of Lisa Rolle, Traub Lieberman and Vito John Marzano, Traub Lieberman Ms. Rolle may be contacted at lrolle@tlsslaw.com Mr. Marzano may be contacted at vmarzano@tlsslaw.com Read the court decision
    Read the full story...
    Reprinted courtesy of

    What to Look for in Subcontractor Warranty Endorsements

    February 03, 2020 —
    With increasing frequency in the construction defect cases we defend, we are seeing commercial general liability insurance policies with “subcontractor warranty” endorsements. Also known as contractor or subcontractor special conditions, these endorsements could have severe and negative consequences for builders that do not comply with their requirements. In researching for this article, I reviewed six different endorsements used by six different carriers, all of which contained some or all of the following requirements:
    • The builder must have signed subcontract agreements with its subcontractors that require subcontractors to hold harmless, i.e., defend and indemnify, the builder for “bodily injury” or “property damage” claims caused by their negligence.
    • The subcontractors must maintain their own insurance with limits equal to or greater than the limits in the builder’s own policy, with limits of at least $1 million per occurrence.
    • The subcontractors’ insurance must not exclude the work being performed for the builder, e.g., the excavator’s policy cannot exclude earth movement claims, the subcontractor’s policy cannot exclude residential construction.
    • The subcontractors must maintain their own workers’ compensation and/or employer’s liability insurance.
    • The subcontractors must provide the builder with an endorsement or a certificate of insurance indicating that the builder has been added to the subcontractors’ insurance as an additional insured.
    • The subcontractors must provide the builder with an endorsement or a certificate of insurance indicating that their insurance carriers have agreed to provide waivers of subrogation in favor of the builder.
    Read the court decision
    Read the full story...
    Reprinted courtesy of David McLain, Higgins, Hopkins, McLain & Roswell
    Mr. McLain may be contacted at mclain@hhmrlaw.com

    Insurer’s Duty to Indemnify Not Ripe Until Underlying Lawsuit Against Insured Resolved

    February 03, 2020 —
    A liability insurer has two duties: 1) the duty to defend its insured; and 2) the duty to indemnify its insured. With respect to the second duty – the duty to indemnify – this duty is typically “not ripe for adjudication unless and until the insured or putative insured has been held liable in the underlying action.” Hartford Fire Ins Co. v. Beazer Homes, LLC, 2019 WL 5596237, *2 (M.D.Fla. 2019) (internal quotation omitted). For instance, Beazer Homes involved an insurance coverage dispute stemming from construction defects. An owner sued its general contractor for construction defects relating to stucco problems. The general contractor paid for the repairs. The general contractor then sued its stucco subcontractor to recover the costs it incurred. The subcontractor tendered the defense of the lawsuit to its commercial general liability insurer which is defending its insured-subcontractor under the commonly issued reservation of rights. Read the court decision
    Read the full story...
    Reprinted courtesy of David Adelstein, Kirwin Norris, P.A.
    Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at dma@kirwinnorris.com

    Design-Assist, an Ambiguous Term Causing Conflict in the Construction Industry[1]

    December 02, 2019 —
    “Design-Assist” is one of the recent cost-saving trends being touted for construction projects and, in particular, construction projects utilizing alternative procurement methods. If an internet search for the term, “design-assist” is made, the result will be numerous construction industry articles and white papers lauding “design-assist” as a recent cost-saving trend in construction procurement. From a legal perspective, however, the term “design-assist” is notably absent from court opinions and most state licensing laws. With the exception of the ConsensusDocs, few standard form contracts even include the term “design-assist” in their text. The ConsensusDocs agreement provides examples of the Constructor’s obligations to perform “assisting activities” (the term “design-assist” is not used) and states that, notwithstanding the performance of such “assisting activities” by the Constructor, the responsibility of the design remains with the Designer unless otherwise stated in the Contract:
    • Article 4.5 DESIGN PROFESSIONAL’S RESPONSIBIITIES The Designer shall furnish or provide all design and engineering services necessary to design the Project in accordance with the Owner’s objectives … the Designer shall draw upon the assistance of Constructor and others in developing the design, but the Designer shall retain overall responsibility for all design decisions….
    • Article 4.6 CONSTRUCTOR’S RESPONSIBILITIES [T]he Constructor shall assist the Designer in the development of the Project Plan and Project Design but shall not provide professional services which constitute the practice of architecture or engineering unless the Constructor needs to provide such services in order to carry out its responsibilities … or unless specifically called for by the Contract Documents.
    Read the court decision
    Read the full story...
    Reprinted courtesy of John P. Ahlers, Ahlers Cressman & Sleight PLLC
    Mr. Ahlers may be contacted at john.ahlers@acslawyers.com

    Standard of Care

    December 16, 2019 —
    One of the key concepts at the heart of Board complaints and civil claims against a design professional is whether or not that design professional complied with the applicable standard of care. In order to prevail on such a claim, the claimant must establish (typically with the aid of expert testimony) that the design professional deviated from the standard of care. On the other side of the coin, to defend a design professional against a professional malpractice claim, defense counsel attempts to establish that – contrary to the claimant’s allegations – the design professional, in fact, complied with the standard of care. Obviously, it becomes very important in such a claim situation to determine what the standard of care is that applies to the conduct of the defendant design professional. Often, this is easier said than done. There is no dictionary definition or handy guidebook that identifies the precise standard of care that applies in any given situation. The “standard of care” is a concept and, as such, is flexible and open to interpretation. Traditionally, the standard of care is expressed as being that level of service or competence generally employed by average or prudent practitioners under the same or similar circumstances at the same time and in the same locale. In other words, to meet the standard of care a design professional must generally follow the pack; he or she need not be perfect, exemplary, outstanding, or even superior – it is sufficient merely for the designer to do that which a reasonably prudent practitioner would do under similar circumstances. The negative or reverse definition also applies, to meet the standard of care, a practitioner must refrain from doing what a reasonably prudent practitioner would have refrained from doing. Although we have this ready definition of the standard of care, in any given dispute it is practically inevitable that the parties will have markedly different opinions as to: (1) what the standard of care required of the designer; and (2) whether the defendant design professional complied with that requirement. The claimant bringing a claim against a design professional typically will be able to find an expert reasonably qualified (at least on paper) who will offer an opinion that the defendant failed to comply with the standard of care. It is just as likely that the counsel for the defendant design professional will be able to find his or her own expert who will counter the opinion of the claimant’s expert and maintain that the defendant design professional, in fact, complied with the standard of care. What’s a jury to think? The concept of standard of care is intertwined with the legal concept of negligence. In the vast majority of law suits against design professionals, a claimant (known as the plaintiff) will assert a claim for negligence against the design professional now known as the defendant.1 As every first year law student learns while studying the field of “Torts,” negligence has four subparts. In order for a defendant to be found negligent, the claimant must establish four elements: (1) duty; (2) breach; (3) causation; and (4) damages. In other words, to establish a claim against a defendant design professional, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care but breached that duty and, as a result, caused the plaintiff to suffer damages. Read the court decision
    Read the full story...
    Reprinted courtesy of Jay Gregory, Gordon & Rees Scully Mansukhani
    Mr. Gregory may be contacted at jgregory@grsm.com