Construction Law Blog

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President Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Requires a Viable Statutory Framework (PPP Statutes)[i]

Date: April 12, 2017  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Employment, Rants and Raves, Memorable Quotes, Construction News and Notes, Government Contracts, Out of the Ordinary  /  Keywords: President Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Requires a Viable Statutory Framework (PPP Statutes) 1  /  Comments (0)

Although we live in a politically-divided nation, there is one issue on which there seems widespread agreement: our country requires a massive upgrade to its infrastructure.  Rundown airports, crumbling highways, obsolete ports, and dangerous bridges are now endemic across the United States.  By contrast, Asian airports and elegant European bridges and rails show that our country needs an upgrade, the cost of which will be enormous.

Blog: Congress Strikes a Blow to President Obama’s “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” Executive Order 13673

Date: March 20, 2017  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Out of the Ordinary, Government Contracts, Construction Bidding, Contracting, Construction News and Notes, Memorable Quotes, Rants and Raves, Recent Legislation, Employment  /  Keywords: Blog: Congress Strikes a Blow to President Obama’s “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” Executive Order 13673 2  /  Comments (0)

On October 25, 2016, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (FAR Council) and the U.S. Department of Labor implemented former President Obama’s Executive Order 13673: “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” rules.  The rules became effective on October 25, 2016 and fundamentally altered the way federal contractors and subcontractors will need to handle and resolve employment and labor claims, as well as compliance issues involving their entire workforce.  The final rules can also result in otherwise-capable companies being “blacklisted” and effectively barred from federal contracts and subcontracts based on labor and employment law violations related or unrelated to prior or current federal contract performance.  The centerpiece of the new regulatory scheme was the new disclosure and responsibility requirements.  Contractors and subcontractors needed to disclose all “labor law decisions” that they had during the three years (prior to bid submission) as part of the process of applying for a new federal contract or subcontract.  If a contractor or subcontractor has too many “labor law decisions” to report or the few it has are too severe, pervasive, repeated, or willful in the eyes of the government “experts,” the company could be deemed “non-responsible” and denied a contract.

Sanctions of $1.6 Million Plus Imposed on Contractor for Fabricating Evidence

Date: March 8, 2017  /  Author: Paul R. Cressman, Jr.  /  Categories: Out of the Ordinary, Construction News and Notes, Memorable Quotes, Rants and Raves, Damages, Claims  /  Keywords: Sanctions of $1.6 Million Plus Imposed on Contractor for Fabricating Evidence 3  /  Comments (0)

King County Superior Court issued sanctions of $1,641,721 in favor of Gefco and against Cascade Drilling, Inc. and its President, Bruce Niermeyer, composed of $1,394,435 in attorneys’ fees and $247,286 in expert fees.

Cascade Drilling is a contractor.  Gefco manufactures and sells large drilling machinery.  The dispute centered around a project that began in 2008.  Cascade was hired to drill a water well at a housing development in Wheeler Canyon, California.  Cascade used a 50K drilling rig purchased from Gefco.  The pump drive shafts on the drilling rig failed four times.  After each failure, Cascade ordered a replacement pump drive shaft from Gefco.

Want to Use Drones in Your Construction Project? FAA Has Just Made It Easier.

Date: February 28, 2017  /  Author: Masaki J. Yamada  /  Categories: Out of the Ordinary, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Memorable Quotes, Rants and Raves, Recent Legislation  /  Keywords: Want to Use Drones in Your Construction Project? FAA Has Just Made It Easier. 4  /  Comments (0)

The new Part 107 FAA Rules took effect on Monday, August 29, 2016.  Unlike the previous requirements for flying a drone commercially, the new rules are much more simplistic and permissive of a broad amount of commercial drone usage.

The following is the basic knowledge you need to legally use a drone on your future projects.  To fly a drone commercially, there are now four major requirements:

 

  • You must be at least sixteen years old;
  • You must register your drone online;
  • You must pass an aviation knowledge test administered at an FAA-approved testing center; and
  • You must pass review by the Transportation Security Administration.

Rattlesnake Bite Triggers Potential Liability for Walmart

Date: January 27, 2017  /  Author: James R. Lynch  /  Categories: Out of the Ordinary, Construction News and Notes, Memorable Quotes, Rants and Raves, Damages, Claims  /  Comments (0)

A customer shopping at Walmart’s outdoor garden center in Clarkston, Washington, reached down to brush aside a stick covering a price tag for bags of mulch stored on wooden pallets. The “stick” turned out to be a rattlesnake, and bit his hand.

The customer sued Walmart on the legal basis of “premises liability,” claiming that as Walmart’s business invitee (one who enters the owner’s property primarily for the owner’s benefit), the store owed him a duty to warn or guard against hazardous conditions such as the rattlesnake.

New Megablimp to Deliver to Remote Alaskan Construction Sites

Date: January 5, 2017  /  Author: Ryan W. Sternoff  /  Categories: Out of the Ordinary, Construction News and Notes, Memorable Quotes  /  Keywords: New Megablimp to Deliver to Remote Alaskan Construction Sites 5  /  Comments (0)

For nearly 20 years, Lockheed Martin has been working on developing a “Hybrid Airship” that may transform the ability to construct facilities in remote project locations.[1]

On September 13, 2016, the Daily Journal of Commerce reported that the first of these “Hybrid Airships,” which can land in snow, ice, gravel, and water, are set to deliver from a facility operated by PRL Logistics in Kenai, Alaska, beginning in 2019.[2]  PRL will be operating the blimps in partnership with UK-based Straightline Aviation who placed the first order for the airships this year.  According to PRL, the hope is that the airships will provide low cost solutions for moving freight in Alaska, where runways and roads are not always available.  The helium-lifted behemoth blimps have space for 47,000 pounds of cargo and 18 passengers and cost about $40 million dollars.

Section 8(a) of Small Business Act Favoring Small, Disadvantaged Businesses Upheld Under Equal Protection Clause

Date: December 14, 2016  /  Author: Matt T. Paxton  /  Categories: MBE/DBE/WBE, Out of the Ordinary, Contracting, Construction News and Notes, Memorable Quotes, Rants and Raves  /  Keywords: Disadvantaged Businesses Upheld Under Equal Protection Clause, 6 Section 8(a) of Small Business Act Favoring Small 7  /  Comments (0)

The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that public bodies and institutions treat similarly-situated individuals in a similar manner.  The government, therefore, cannot apply a law dissimilarly to people who are similarly situated.  For example, in the mid-1970s, the Medical School of the University of California Davis (a public university) reserved 16 of 100 spaces in its class for “disadvantaged” students.[i]  In the seminal case of Regents of Univ. of California v. Bakke, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial preference was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause because an applicant’s race was an explicit factor in determining disadvantage.  In other contexts, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has found that “mere awareness of race in attempting to solve the problems facing [minority groups] does not doom that endeavor at the outset.”[ii]

The Prompt Payment Act Obligation is Not Triggered When the Owner Holds Less Retention from the General Contractor

Date: October 20, 2016  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Out of the Ordinary, Government Contracts, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Contracting, Construction News and Notes, Memorable Quotes, Rants and Raves, Claims  /  Keywords: The Prompt Payment Act Obligation is Not Triggered When the Owner Holds Less Retention from the General Contractor 8  /  Comments (0)

Most states have laws known as “prompt payment” statutes which govern the timing of payments on public works projects from project owners to general contractors, and from general contractors to subcontractors.  The purpose of these statutes is to ensure that contractors and subcontractors who may have less leverage than the project owners and prime contractors, respectively, are paid for their work on a timely basis.

Defend Trade Secret Act of 2016–-Federalizing Trade Secret Law

Date: October 5, 2016  /  Author: Erin M. Stines and Reed Cahill  /  Categories: Out of the Ordinary, Construction News and Notes, Rants and Raves, Recent Legislation, Employment  /  Comments (0)

The Defend Trade Secret Act of 2016 (DTSA) was signed into law on May 11, 2016, and became effective immediately. The DTSA allows an owner of a trade secret to sue in federal court for trade secret misappropriation. Previously, only state law governed civil misappropriation of trade secrets. While the DTSA largely mirrors the current state of the law under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), adopted by 48 states, including Washington, there are some additions found in the new law.

Commercial Drone Use – FAA Clarifies Rules

Date: September 21, 2016  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Out of the Ordinary, Construction Bidding, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Rants and Raves  /  Keywords: Commercial Drone Use – FAA Clarifies Rules 9  /  Comments (0)

Construction contractors increasingly use drones to monitor and document progress on construction sites.  Drones are becoming more and more common place in construction.  One of our clients, an excavation contractor, uses a drone to fly the project before the bid.  The contractor then uses the data gathered from the drone to create a topographic map, inputs the design elevations and plans in a computer, and calculates the quantities as a check of the owner takeoffs.  This is an inexpensive check on quantities, which provides the contractor with a leg up in the bidding process.