Construction Law Blog
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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.
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.
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. 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
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
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.
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.
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.
Ahlers & Cressman has announced the promotion of Ellie Perka and James Lynch to partner of the firm. Both attorneys have demonstrated excellence and dedication in helping the firm’s clients resolve complicated construction disputes, and the firm is pleased to announce their joining the firm as partners.
Breach of Implied Warranty Under Attack; Contractor Organizations Urge the Supreme Court Not to Change the Longstanding Law—Review Denied
In June 2006, King County awarded VPFK (Vinci Construction Grands Projects, Parsons RCI, Frontier-Kemper) a Brightwater Project tunneling work contract. The County specified which boring machine (the Slurry Tunnel Boring Machine “STBM” method) was to be utilized in performing the work. During performance, VPFK’s progress was substantially slower than anticipated because the County-specified STBM method was not suitable for the work to be performed under the soil conditions. The STBM ultimately failed, and VPFK’s performance was behind schedule.
Neighbor Allowed to Remove Tree Roots on Her Property That Supported Adjoining Landowners’ Two Large Trees With Legal Immunity
A recent Washington Court of Appeals opinion addressed the rights of a neighbor to destroy roots and branches on her property that belonged to trees located on an adjoining landowner’s property.
 Mustoe v. Ma, 193 Wn. App. 161, 371 P.3d 544 (Div. 1, April 4, 2016).
Ahlers & Cressman PLLC attorneys have again been recognized as “Super Lawyers” and “Rising Stars” (attorneys under 40 years of age, or practicing under 10 years) in Washington for 2016.
Six Ahlers & Cressman attorneys were recognized as Super Lawyers: John P. Ahlers, Paul R. Cressman, Jr., Scott R. Sleight, Bruce A. Cohen, Lawrence S. Glosser, and Brett M. Hill. Additionally, three of the firm’s attorneys have been recognized as Rising Stars: Ryan W. Sternoff, James R. Lynch, and Lindsay K. Taft.