Construction Law Blog
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Waiving Workers’ Compensation Immunity for Indemnity: Demystifying a Common and Scary-Looking Contract Term
Parties to a construction contract are often skeptical of terms in bold fonts, capital letters, or underlining, and especially terms requiring separate signatures or initials. A natural assumption is that such terms must be harmful if they require such emphasis. This concern is further heightened when the term involves complex areas of law, or waivers of rights that the party may not fully understand. In such cases, a little knowledge can go a long way.
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.
Mandatory Attorneys’ Fee Award for Actions Brought Under the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act
In Washington, RCW 19.122 (the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act or “Call Before You Dig” statute) provides for the protection of underground utilities. The statute was recently updated in 2013 and provides that homeowners and contractors must call “811” to schedule a “utility locate” prior to commencing any excavation. Failure to do so can result in steep penalties, as well as a mandatory fee award for the prevailing party.
Lawyers love writing about indemnification. There are seventeen blog articles on our website alone that deal with the subject. Before you click out of this email in disgust that we are rehashing a stale topic, this post contains some practical advice for contractors and subcontractors dealing with the perplexing issues of indemnification and additional insured provisions.
We are excited to announce that John P. Ahlers has been selected as a “Lawyer of the Year” in Construction Law, and John P. Ahlers and Paul R. Cressman, Jr. have been selected as “Best Lawyers in America” in Construction Litigation by Best Lawyers for 2017. Best Lawyers has recognized Mr. Ahlers and Mr. Cressman as “Best Lawyers in America” since 2007 and 2013, respectively.
Make the following inquiry of your constructional lawyer, watch him/her sit up in his/her chair and give your question immediate attention: “I haven’t been paid, can I walk off the job?” The answer to this question is a strong “maybe, but it’s risky.” Walking off the project has a significant downside. The risk is that the judge who reviews your decision, sometimes years after the event, may not agree that the non-payment was a material breach and, thus, suspension of performance (walking off) is not justified.
Companies that do not themselves qualify for federal preferences as small, disadvantaged businesses can help in joint ventures with other qualified companies and enjoy many of the benefits these programs offer.
Federal agencies annually reserve over $12 billion in federal contracting opportunities for award to “8(a)” companies, which are businesses that have successfully applied for determination of being socially and economically disadvantaged under Section 8(a) of the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) Act. In addition, other categories of disadvantaged, small businesses, such as companies owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans, qualify for a growing allotment of set aside contracts and other preferences.
The Job is Substantially Complete, the Subcontract was Never Signed, the Subcontractor Wants to be Paid—Now What?
A recent case in North Carolina illustrates the types of problems created when a general contractor accepts a subcontractor’s bid and then allows the subcontractor to perform the work without obtaining a signed subcontract. In this case, the general contractor (Choate Construction Company – “Choate”) accepted a bid from a foundation subcontractor (Southeast Caissons, LLC – “SEC”). Choate sent the subcontract to SEC. SEC provided its changes in a “Proposed Addendum” to the subcontract stating, “[SEC] hereby accepts the terms of the attached Subcontract, subject to and conditioned upon Choate[’s] acceptance of the terms set forth in this Addendum[.]” After that, Choate called SEC and exchanged emails concerning the subcontract terms, but did not reach an agreement. SEC then performed its subcontract and sought payment, and acknowledged it had not signed the subcontract. Choate agreed it owed SEC something, but refused to pay because SEC did not have a signed subcontract, asserting the subcontract was not binding on Choate.