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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

    Seattle Washington Building Consultant 10/ 10

    Home Builders Association of Kitsap County
    Local # 4944
    5251 Auto Ctr Way
    Bremerton, WA 98312

    Seattle Washington Building Consultant 10/ 10

    Home Builders Association of Spokane
    Local # 4966
    5813 E 4th Ave Ste 201
    Spokane, WA 99212

    Seattle Washington Building Consultant 10/ 10

    Home Builders Association of North Central
    Local # 4957
    PO Box 2065
    Wenatchee, WA 98801

    Seattle Washington Building Consultant 10/ 10

    MBuilders Association of Pierce County
    Local # 4977
    PO Box 1913 Suite 301
    Tacoma, WA 98401

    Seattle Washington Building Consultant 10/ 10

    North Peninsula Builders Association
    Local # 4927
    PO Box 748
    Port Angeles, WA 98362
    Seattle Washington Building Consultant 10/ 10

    Jefferson County Home Builders Association
    Local # 4947
    PO Box 1399
    Port Hadlock, WA 98339

    Seattle Washington Building Consultant 10/ 10

    Building Consultant News and Information
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    Leveraging from more than 5500 construction defect and claims related expert witness designations, the Seattle, Washington Building Consultant Group provides a wide range of trial support and consulting services to Seattle's most acknowledged construction practice groups, CGL carriers, builders, owners, and public agencies. Drawing from a diverse pool of construction and design professionals, BHA is able to simultaneously analyze complex claims from the perspective of design, engineering, cost, or standard of care.

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    Seattle, Washington

    California Court of Appeal Holds That the Right to Repair Act Prohibits Class Actions Against Manufacturers of Products Completely Manufactured Offsite

    February 06, 2019 —
    In Kohler Co. v. Superior Court, 29 Cal. App. 5th 55 (2018), the Second District of the Court of Appeal of California considered whether the lower court properly allowed homeowners to bring class action claims under the Right to Repair Act (the Act) against a manufacturer of a plumbing fixture for alleged defects in the product. After an extensive analysis of the language of the Act, the court found that class action claims under the Act are not allowed if the product was completely manufactured offsite. Since the subject fixture was completely manufactured offsite, the Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s decision. The court’s holding establishes that rights and remedies set forth in the Right to Repair Act are not available for class action claims alleging defects in products completely manufactured offsite. In Kohler Co., homeowners instituted a class action against Kohler, the manufacturer of water pressure and temperature regulating valves that were installed into their homes during original construction. The class action was filed on behalf of all owners of residential dwellings in California in which these Kohler valves were installed as part of original construction. The complaint asserted, among other claims, a cause of action under the Act. Kohler filed a motion for anti-class certification on the ground that causes of actions under the Act cannot be certified as a class action. The trial court denied the motion with respect to the Act but certified its ruling for appellate review. Kohler filed a petition with the Court of Appeals, arguing that certain sections of the Act explicitly exclude class action claims under the Act. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Gus Sara, White and Williams LLP
    Mr. Sara may be contacted at

    California Commission Recommends Switching To Fault-Based Wildfire Liability Standard for Public Utilities

    June 25, 2019 —
    A state-appointed panel advised last week that California should change the standard for determining whether utilities are liable for wildfires. Under the current system, California’s Public Utilities Code § 2106 provides a private right of action by any person or entity that has suffered loss, damages, or injury caused by prohibited or unlawful acts of a public utility. Relying on this statute, property owners have asserted wildfire-related claims directly against allegedly culpable electric utility companies. Public utilities in California also face inverse condemnation claims arising out of wildfires. Under inverse condemnation, where private property is taken for public use and later damaged by the state or its agency, the state or agency is strictly liable to the property owner. In an effort to reduce the financial impact on public utilities resulting from wildfires—as exemplified by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s recent filing for Chapter 11 protection in January—the California Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery recommended changing the current laws to reflect a fault-based standard. According to the panel, this change would reduce the risk of bankruptcy and decrease the cost of capital. The commission also recommended establishing a wildfire victims’ fund and setting up an electric utility wildfire board to handle the prevention and mitigation of utility-related wildfires. Reprinted courtesy of Hunton Andrews Kurth attorneys Lawrence J. Bracken II, Sergio F. Oehninger, Paul T. Moura and Alexander D. Russo Mr. Bracken may be contacted at Mr. Oehninger may be contacted at Mr. Paul may be contacted at Mr. Alexander may be contacted at Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of

    Supreme Court of Wisconsin Applies Pro Rata Allocation Based on Policy Limits to Co-Insurance Dispute

    February 18, 2019 —
    In its recent decision in Steadfast Insurance Company v. Greenwich Insurance Company, 2019 WL 323702 (Wis. Jan. 25, 2019), the Supreme Court of Wisconsin addressed the issue of contribution rights as among co-insurers. Steadfast and Greenwich issued pollution liability policies to different entities that performed sewer-related services for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) at different times. MMSD sought coverage under both policies in connection with underlying claims involving pollution-related loss. Both insurers agreed that MMSD qualified as an additional insured under their respective policies, but Greenwich took the position that its coverage was excess over the coverage afforded under the Steadfast policy, at least for defense purposes, and that as such, it had no defense obligation. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Brian Margolies, Traub Lieberman
    Mr. Margolies may be contacted at

    What is a Subordination Agreement?

    May 06, 2019 —
    Put simply, a subordination agreement is a legal agreement which establishes one debt as ranking behind another debt in the priority for collecting repayment from a debtor. It is an arrangement that alters the lien position. Without a subordination clause, loans take chronological priority which means that a deed of trust recorded first will be considered senior to all deeds of trusts recorded after. As such, the oldest loan becomes the primary loan, with first call on any proceeds from a sale of a property. However, a subordination agreement acknowledges that one party’s claim or interest is inferior to that of another party in the event that the borrowing entity liquidates its assets. Further, shareholders are subordinate to all creditors. The junior debt is referred to as a “subordinated debt”, and the debt which has a higher claim to any assets is the senior debt. Often, the borrower does not have enough funds to pay all debts, and lower priority debts may receive little or no repayment. For example, if a business has $400,000 in senior debt, $100,000 in subordinated debt, and a total asset value of $420,000, upon liquidation of the company, only the senior debtholder will be paid in full. The remaining $20,000 will be distributed among the subordinated debtholders. Subordinated debts are, therefore, riskier and lenders will require a higher interest rate as compensation. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Bremer Whyte Brown & O'Meara LLP

    No Coverage for Sink Hole Loss

    June 18, 2019 —
    The federal district court found there was no coverage under the commercial property policy for loss suffered by the insured condominium association due to a sink hole. Bahama Bay II Condo. Ass'n. v. Untied Nat'l Ins. Co., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67487 (M.D. Fla. April 11, 2019). The plaintiff condominium association had thirteen buildings inside their complex. On December 9, 2016, a sinkhole appeared near Building 43. The building was vacated and declared unsafe. Plaintiff's board excused Building 43 owners from paying association dues. Plaintiff submitted a claim to the insurer for benefits under the policy. The insurer inspected and accepted coverage for Building 43 under the policy's Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse (CGCC) provision and issued a check for $290,000 for immediate repairs. The insurer denied coverage for Buildings 42, 44, and 45; repairs to the foundation of all buildings, the retaining wall and outdoor fences; land, landscaping, and patios, uncollected association dues, and condominium unit owner property. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Tred R. Eyerly, Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert
    Mr. Eyerly may be contacted at

    Court Finds That SIR Requirements are Not Incorporated into High Level Excess Policies and That Excess Insurers’ Payment of Defense Costs is Not Conditioned on Actual Liability

    April 22, 2019 —
    In Deere & Co. v. Allstate Ins. Co. (No. A145170, filed 2/25/19), a California appeals court held that the insured was not required to pay additional self-insured retentions (SIRs) in order to trigger higher level excess coverage because the retained limits applicable to the first layer of coverage did not also apply to the higher-layer excess policies. In Deere, the insured was sued for injuries from alleged exposure to asbestos-containing assemblies used in Deere machines. In a declaratory relief action against its umbrella and excess insurers, the case was tried on: (1) whether the higher-layer excess policies were triggered once the first-layer excess policy limits, which were subject to an SIR paid by Deere, had been exhausted; and (2) whether the insurers’ indemnity obligation extended to Deere’s defense costs incurred in asbestos claims that had been dismissed. The trial court found in favor of the insurers, concluding that the retained limits in the first layer of coverage also applied to the higher-layer excess, which was not triggered until Deere paid additional SIRs. The court also concluded that the insurers were not obligated to pay defense costs when underlying cases were dismissed without payment to a claimant either by judgment or settlement. Mr. Kendrick may be contacted at Ms. Moore may be contacted at Reprinted courtesy of Christopher Kendrick, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP and Valerie A. Moore, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of

    Do You Really Want Mandatory Arbitration in Your Construction Contract?

    June 25, 2019 —
    If you are in construction, you have likley run across (or even drafted) a dispute resolution provision into your construction contract. If you’ve been building for any length of time, you’ve read dispute resolution provisions containing mandatory arbitration clauses. These clauses can be found in the AIA documents and in many of the contracts that I review for my clients in my role as construction lawyer and counselor. More often than not, these arbitration clauses require arbitration (read “private court”) and refer to one of several sets of rules, though most likely the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) Construction Industry rules. In Virginia, as in most of the United States, these clauses are read liberally and enforced by courts except in limited cases such as waiver. The main justification for requiring arbitration over litigation is to avoid the fees and expense of the litigation process. In the right circumstances, arbitration does just that. With a carefully drafted arbitration clauses and with the right case that requires expertise in construction that a judge does not have (they have to liten to all manner of disputes so are necessarily generalists), arbitration can and should be a streamlined and less expensive version of litigation. However, in my time as a construction attorney, I have more often run into situations where the arbitration process is at least equally expensive and frankly not much more streamlined. The additional administrative burden coupled with the possibility of paying for at least half of the hourly charges of one to three arbitrators is often not worth the additional expertise of those arbitrators. Many construction claims simply come down to non-payment and whether the work was performed properly. In my opinion, the fine judges in the Commonwealth of Virginia are more than capable of hearing this evidence and making a ruling. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill
    Mr. Hill may be contacted at

    SCOTUS Opens Up Federal Courts to Land Owners

    July 15, 2019 —
    For nearly 36 years, the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U.S. 172, 105 S.Ct. 3108, 87 L.Ed.2d 126 (1985) severely frustrated, if not all but foreclosed, a property owner’s right to bring a claim in federal court based on a regulatory taking. Under the Fifth Amendment, a property owner whose land has been “taken” by the government is entitled to just compensation. There are two types of takings direct or “inverse” or regulatory takings. A direct taking is where the government declares that it needs your land for public use and offers to pay you compensation. You might disagree with the amount offered – and that often is the case. But, a mechanism exists whereby a neutral third party – a condemnation board – will arrive at the compensation that is owed. On the other hand, an inverse condemnation or regulatory taking occurs when the government takes some action that restricts the use of the land in such a way as to severely impact it beneficial economic use. For example, if you own a strip of commercial property and intend to develop it and then the municipality comes along and suddenly changes the zoning classification of the parcel such that you can no longer develop it in a beneficial way, then you might have a regulatory takings case. Under the Court’s Williamson County decision, property owners falling within the later category were required to exhaust state remedies before proceeding to federal court under a claim that their Fifth Amendment rights were violated. The problem with this is that, as the Supreme Court explained, it creates a Catch-22. If property owners exhaust their state remedies and the state remedies result in an unfavorable outcome, the federal court is powerless to overturn that decision under the doctrines of res judicata and the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution. Well, yesterday, the Court overturned Williamson County, in Knick v. Township of Scott, 588 U.S. _____ (2019). There the Court held unequivocally a “property owner has suffered a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights when the government takes his property without just compensation, and therefore may bring his claim in federal court under Section 1983 at that time.” Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Wally Zimolong, Zimolong LLC
    Mr. Zimolong may be contacted at