Construction Law Blog

Blog Disclaimer: The content provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. The information provided is intended for general information which may or may not reflect the most current developments. Read More

- OR -

The Lighter Side of Infrastructure

Date: March 5, 2015  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Out of the Ordinary, Government Contracts, Construction News and Notes, Memorable Quotes, Rants and Raves, Recent Legislation  /  Comments (0)

Late night host of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver, took us on a tour of the Nation’s infrastructure on Monday night.  The deplorable state of U.S. infrastructure has been the subject of a number of Ahlers & Cressman posts (It’s Time to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure – A Prospective Presidential Candidate Has an Idea!; Public-Private Partnerships:  Completing Infrastructure Projects Without Public Funds; More Washington Infrastructure Projects On The Horizon – Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan; Hurricane Sandy A Wake Up Call To Strengthen U.S. Infrastructure – A Topic Lost In The Recent Presidential Campaign; Private Investors Testify that the US Infrastructure Bank is Key to Attracting Private Capitol for Public Works; New ASCE Report:  Old U.S. Infrastructure is Costing the Public Billions; China’s Road-Building Pace Leaves U.S. In The Dust; Now That The Republicans Have Taken Over the House – What Does That Spell For Infrastructure Investment?; Infrastructure Investment Gets Boost From The Daily Show with John Stewart; Call For Boost to Infrastructure Investment$4 Billion National Infrastructure Bank Proposed by President Obama; Water Main Break Highlights Need for Infrastructure Investment; Chelan Washington’s wooden pipes emphasize the need for radical infrastructure upgrades; Pew Research Gives Washington State An “A” For Infrastructure Government Performance).  Oliver in 30 minutes gave viewers the comedic side of the sorry state of the U.S. infrastructure and convinces us that infrastructure is worth talking about.  One of his memorable lines was:  The average U.S. dam is 52 years old and has “something deeply broken inside” – “like Botox users and clog dancers.”

Utility Contractor Cited for Workplace Safety Violation Fails to Establish Infeasibility Defense

Date: March 3, 2015  /  Author: Matt Paxton  /  Comments (0)

On March 24, 2014, Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals affirmed the citation by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) of a contractor who operated within 10-feet of an energized lines without taking mitigating measures, and rejected the contractor’s “infeasibility defense.”

Legislative Update: Venue for Lawsuits Against Counties (HB 1601)

Date: February 27, 2015  /  Author: Brett M. Hill  /  Categories: Recent Legislation, Construction News and Notes, Government Contracts  /  Comments (0)

Home field advantage matters in sports, and it also matters in litigation.  In litigation, many battles are fought over the location where a dispute is to be decided and who is tasked with deciding the outcome of the dispute.

Determining the Severity of WISHA Violations

Date: February 24, 2015  /  Author: Matt Paxton  /  Categories: Department of Labor & Industries, Regulatory Administration  /  Comments (0)

The Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act of 1973 (“WISHA”) is a statute that empowered the Department of Labor and Industries (“L&I”) to create and enforce safety and health regulations for nearly all employers and employees in the state.  WISHA was the first fully-operational state safety and health program approved by the federal government.  Under WISHA, L&I may conduct investigations into employers that it believes to be in violation of a safety of health statute or regulation, and issue a citation.  These citations are posted at or near the place of violation, and also are posted online as a matter of public record.

Who is Covered by the Miller Act on Federal Public Works Projects?

Date: February 19, 2015  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Government Contracts, Contracting, Regulatory Administration, Liens/Bond Claims, Claims  /  Comments (0)

Historically, the common law doctrine of sovereign immunity prevented liens against public property, and federal statutes allowed only those in privity of contract with the federal government to sue to enforce contractual rights.  To address this concern, Congress enacted the Heard Act in 1894.  In 1935, Congress repealed the Heard Act and enacted the Miller Act in its place.  The Miller Act requires that all general contractors post payment bonds on contracts in excess of $25,000.00.  If the contracting officer determines that a payment bond in the full amount of the contract is impractical, he or she may set a different amount for the payment bond.  Bonds of half the contract amount are common on federal jobs.

Bertha is Stuck and She Remains Mired in Controversy

Date: February 17, 2015  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Out of the Ordinary, Construction News and Notes, Rants and Raves, Recent Legislation  /  Comments (0)

Barely a day goes by without Seattle media attention focus on the Seattle Tunnel Project.  Bertha, the tunnel boring machine (“TBM”), has been stuck (since last year) under Seattle’s waterfront approximately 1,000 feet from where the tunneling began.  The tunnel is designed to replace the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct that was damaged in the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake.  Read more here: Bertha Is Stuck and Challenges Persist:  Latest Projected Opening is August 2017.  

Valentine's Day - Workplace Romances and "Love Contracts"

Date: February 13, 2015  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Out of the Ordinary  /  Comments (0)

Valentine's Day is around the corner, a befitting occasion to scrutinize workplace romances.  Employers wary of where cupid's arrow may strike are concerned about sexual harassment charges.  Therefore, some employers are turning to "love contracts" - or in lawyer terms, a "Consensual Relationship Agreement."  A Consensual Relationship Agreement is an effort to mitigate the risk of sexual harassment claims from an office romance gone awry by documenting that the relationship is consensual.

It's Time to Rebuild America's Infrastructure - A Prospective Presidential Candidate Has an Idea!

Date: February 10, 2015  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Government Contracts, Construction News and Notes, Rants and Raves, Recent Legislation  /  Comments (0)

The American Society of Civil Engineers (“ASCE”) has calculated that an additional $1.6 trillion should be spent on infrastructure by 2020.  ASCE gives our crumbling infrastructure a failing grade (D).  For seven years, this blog has been tracking and reporting on the sorry state of our infrastructure.

Subcontractors' Attempts to Enforce Their Bids

Date: February 5, 2015  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Construction Bidding, Contracting, Claims  /  Comments (0)

Washington courts have rejected subcontractors' contentions that a general contractor's mere use of their bids constitutes an "acceptance" of the subcontractor's bid and that the incorporation of the subcontractor's bid into the prime contractor's price to the owner constitutes an enforceable contract.  Examining three Washington cases on this subject provides some insights on how the courts might view a general contractor's listing of a subcontractor in its bid as an act of "acceptance."

Spearin Doctrine: The Implied Warranty of Plans and Specifications

Date: January 29, 2015  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Government Contracts, Contracting, Construction News and Notes, Damages, Claims, Change Orders  /  Comments (0)

A basic principle of construction law is that one who furnishes plans and specifications for a project impliedly warrants that the plans and specifications are workable and sufficient.  A long line of Washington cases has recognized this rule.