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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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    MBuilders Association of King & Snohomish Counties
    Local # 4955
    335 116th Ave SE
    Bellevue, WA 98004

    Seattle Washington Construction Expert Witness 10/ 10

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

    Seattle Washington Construction Expert Witness 10/ 10

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

    Seattle Washington Construction Expert Witness 10/ 10

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

    Seattle Washington Construction Expert Witness 10/ 10

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

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    North Peninsula Builders Association
    Local # 4927
    PO Box 748
    Port Angeles, WA 98362
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    Jefferson County Home Builders Association
    Local # 4947
    PO Box 1399
    Port Hadlock, WA 98339

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    Construction Expert Witness News and Information
    For Seattle Washington


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    SEATTLE WASHINGTON CONSTRUCTION EXPERT WITNESS
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    The Seattle, Washington Construction Expert Witness Group at BHA, leverages from the experience gained through more than 7,000 construction related expert witness designations encompassing a wide spectrum of construction related disputes. Leveraging from this considerable body of experience, BHA provides construction related trial support and expert services to Seattle's most recognized construction litigation practitioners, commercial general liability carriers, owners, construction practice groups, as well as a variety of state and local government agencies.

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    4 Lessons Contractors Can Learn From The COVID-19 Crisis

    May 25, 2020 —
    At the start of 2020, the industry outlook in construction was positive. Many contractors were optimistic about what the year had in store for construction businesses in terms of profit, expansion of operations, and even payment issues. That was until the COVID-19 pandemic put a wrench in everyone’s business plans. There’s no question about how huge the impact of the novel coronavirus crisis is on business operations. With the federal and state governments implementing strict measures to slow down the spread of COVID-19, construction businesses are experiencing significant delays and disruptions in their operations. Because of the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, many construction projects are forced to postpone operations or, worse, cancel them altogether. Nevertheless, there are lessons in the COVID-19 pandemic that contractors can learn. Here are some of them. 1. Contractors need to be proactive in meeting preliminary notice requirements Cash is tight in times of crisis. As the economy comes to a standstill, construction businesses will need to deal with decreasing profits. They may even have to dip into their own cash reserves to cover fixed expenses and their employees’ salaries. In times like this, it is crucial that contractors perform due diligence in protecting their right to get paid. The first step in doing so is to prepare preliminary notices. These notices are an important step in the mechanics lien process and without them, chances contractors will not be able to recover the unpaid compensation for the materials they furnished and services they rendered. 2. Force majeure provisions are crucial parts of a contract The novel coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of force majeure provisions in construction contracts. Before the COVID-19 crisis hit business operations, force majeure provisions were typically considered as simple boilerplate clauses. This means they were just there as a standard part of contracts. However, the same force majeure clauses, as well as impossibility of performance provisions, have become crucial in the current crisis. As many construction businesses experience difficulties with their operations, they may not be able to fulfill their contractual responsibilities. The said clauses can give contractors a much-needed reprieve. As the current crisis continues, contractors should review contracts as these provisions can give them more time to finish the job. And in the hopefully near future when the crisis ends, business owners should review the contract creation process and ensure that these clauses included in contracts will be able to address the impact of situations similar to COVID-19. 3. Having solid internal communication is crucial There’s a lot of uncertainty with the COVID-19 situation. With work operations temporarily stopping, the circumstances can be quite stressful for employees. There will be doubts and fears within your workforce on whether work will be back to normal as soon as possible or not. Keeping your workforce well-informed and trusting of your organization is crucial, especially in this time of uncertainty. That is why it is paramount that you have a solid internal communication infrastructure to disseminate information about the current work situation and the next steps that the business will take. In addition, only through proper employee communication can the implementation of social distancing and hygiene measures be effective. 4. Contractors can benefit from flexible work arrangements As the coronavirus crisis has made it necessary for everyone to stay at home, construction businesses should look for ways to continue operations. Expanded work arrangements such as work-from-home setups may just be the solution. Of course, most of the physical work that is needed to be done on-site will be impossible to do at home, but office-based functions such as sales, client relations, design, and administrative roles can still continue. This can even have additional benefits to productivity and health. And when the crisis is over, business owners should consider incorporating these work arrangements into their operations permanently. The COVID-19 crisis is not showing any sign of stopping soon, and even when it ends, it will take quite a long time before we can be back to business as usual. As the crisis continues, however, business owners should take the situation as a learning experience. Once the COVID-19 crisis is over, it will take a long time for things to go back to normal. In fact, things may not end up going back to the way they were before and businesses will need to adapt to the new normal. However the situation evolves, business owners should take this opportunity to learn new things and maintain resilience in trying times. About the Author: Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle.com, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers with late payments. Handle.com also provides funding for construction businesses in the form of invoice factoring, material supply trade credit, and mechanics lien purchasing. Read the court decision
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    Tips for Drafting Construction Contracts

    May 04, 2020 —
    When negotiating a construction contract, a contractor and its advisers must first determine the areas of greatest concern. For example, if the contractor believes that the drawings that were prepared by the architect and other design professionals are deficient, the contractor may want to reference those deficiencies in the contract. The contractor should emphasize that it is not responsible for the drawings and to the extent the project schedule is extended to allow the parties to address such issues with the drawings, the contractor would be entitled to additional compensation. This article provides contractors with additional tips, with a broad focus on project delays, for their protection when negotiating and drafting construction contracts, and helps contractors understand the rationale for such tips to better prepare contractors in such negotiations. Contractor’s liability to the owner for delay damages It is imperative that the contract include a waiver of claims for consequential damages. AIA Document A201TM – 2017 includes such a waiver, which provides, in pertinent part, “The Contractor and Owner waive Claims against each other for consequential damages arising out of or relating to this Contract … This mutual waiver is applicable, without limitation, to all consequential damages due to either party’s termination in accordance with Article 14.” Reprinted courtesy of Stuart Rosen, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved. Read the court decision
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    Mr. Rosen may be contacted at srosen@proskauer.com

    You Cannot Arbitrate Claims Not Covered By The Arbitration Agreement

    March 16, 2020 —
    Regardless of the type of contract you are dealing with, “[a]rbitration provisions are contractual in nature, and therefore, construction of such provisions and the contracts in which they appear is a matter of contract interpretation.” Wiener v. Taylor Morrison Services, Inc., 44 Fla. L. Weekly D3012f (Fla. 1st DCA 2019). This means if you want to preserve your right to arbitrate claims you want to make sure your contract unambiguously expresses this right. Taking this one step further, if you want to make sure an arbitrator, and not the court, determines whether the claim is arbitrable if a dispute arises, you want to make sure that right is expressly contained in the arbitration provision. For example, in Wiener, a homeowner sued a home-builder for violation of the building code – a fairly common claim in a construction defect action. The homeowner’s claim dealt with a violation of building code as to exterior stucco deficiencies. The home-builder moved to compel the lawsuit to arbitration based on a structural warranty it provided to the homeowner that contained an arbitration provision. The structural warranty, however, was limited and did not apply to non-load-bearing elements which, per the warranty, were not deemed to have the potential for a major structural defect (e.g., a structural defect to load-bearing elements that would cause the home to be unsafe or inhabitable). The trial court compelled the dispute to arbitration pursuant to the arbitration provision in the structural warranty. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of David Adelstein, Kirwin Norris, P.A.
    Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at dma@kirwinnorris.com

    Force Majeure, Construction Delays, Labor Shortages and COVID-19

    April 06, 2020 —
    The global effect of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is still unknown, and the progress of many large-scale construction projects has been affected by “Shelter in Place” orders, although some states and localities have classified construction projects as “essential.” Just last Friday, New York shut down all construction, with few exceptions. Several states have enacted gathering bans of all sizes (including Michigan, Oregon, New Mexico, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, California) and more people are likely to be quarantined as widespread testing becomes available. These decisions will undoubtedly affect the supply of materials and labor necessary for construction projects. Officials have turned to increasingly disruptive and measures to control the spread of the virus in addition to event prohibitions and school closures, including restricting people to their homes, and closing businesses that are not “essential.” While many companies have adopted mandatory telecommuting, this is an impossibility on the construction sites. Eventually, supply and labor shortages due to governmental restrictions or quarantines will affect the critical path of construction projects. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Elizabeth J. Dye, Pillsbury
    Ms. Dye may be contacted at elizabeth.dye@pillsburylaw.com

    Everyone’s Working From Home Due to the Coronavirus – Is There Insurance Coverage for a Data Breach?

    May 18, 2020 —
    Most organizations are now requiring that their employees work from home (“WFH”) with the ongoing COVID-19 (commonly referred to as the Coronavirus) pandemic. These remote working arrangements provide new opportunities for hackers to infiltrate computer systems, and not surprisingly, attempted cyber attacks are on the rise. Given the rapid deployment of employees being forced to work from home, many employees are using their personal laptops, tablets and other devices to complete their work. The use of such personal devices increases the risk to network systems, including a potential breach or data loss. However, in the event of a breach or other incident, there may be limitations in your cyber liability insurance policy based upon the type of hardware being used. Businesses need to be proactive to protect themselves from attacks by practicing vigilant cyber safety, and also reviewing their insurance policies in detail for coverage considerations prior to the occurrence of any cyber incident. Reprinted courtesy of Heather H. Whitehead, Newmeyer Dillion and Jeffrey M. Dennis, Newmeyer Dillion Ms. Whitehead may be contacted at heather.whitehead@ndlf.com Mr. Dennis may be contacted at jeff.dennis@ndlf.com Read the court decision
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    COVID-19 Is Not Direct Physical Loss Or Damage

    April 13, 2020 —
    Is a cash register that is not being used damaged property? When you need to wash a table, a chair, or a section of flooring with readily available cleaning products to make them safe and useable, are you repairing damaged property? Is a spilled cup of coffee waiting to be wiped up actual damage to the premises? If your customers stay home to help stop the spread of a virus, has there been a physical loss inside your shuttered store or restaurant? The insuring agreements typically found in commercial property insurance policies require “direct physical loss of or damage to” covered property as the triggering event. Without establishing direct physical loss or damage a policyholder cannot meet its burden to trigger coverage for a purely economic loss of business income resulting from shuttering its business due to concerns over exposure to—or even the actual presence of—COVID-19. Despite this well-understood policy language, it is already beyond question that insurers will confront creative—albeit strained—arguments from policyholder firms attempting to trigger coverage for pure economic loss. The scope of the human and economic tragedy we all face will be matched by the scope of the effort to force the financial harm onto insurance companies. The plaintiffs in what appears to be the first-filed case seeking a declaratory judgment in the context of first-party insurance coverage rely on the assertion that “contamination of the insured premises by the Coronavirus would be a direct physical loss needing remediation to clean the surfaces” of its establishment, a New Orleans restaurant, to trigger coverage for business interruption.[1] See Cajun Conti, LLC, et. al. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London, et. al. Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana. The complaint alleges that the property is insured under an “all risk policy” defining “covered causes of loss” as “direct physical loss.” The plaintiffs rely on the alleged presence of the virus on “the surface of objects” in certain conditions and the need to clean those surfaces. They go so far as to claim that “[a]ny effort by [the insurer] to deny the reality that the virus causes physical damage and loss would constitute a false and potentially fraudulent misrepresentation. . . .” Reprinted courtesy of Gordon & Rees attorneys Joseph Blyskal, Dennis Brown and Michelle Bernard Mr. Blyskal may be contacted at tblatchley@grsm.com Mr. Brown may be contacted at dbrown@grsm.com Ms. Bernard may be contacted at mbernard@grsm.com Read the court decision
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    Are COVID-19 Claims Covered by Builders Risk Insurance Policies?

    May 04, 2020 —
    If you are an attorney, insurance broker, or other professional representing developers and contractors, then your clients have likely reached out with concerns about losses related to COVID-19. One common question is whether there is potential coverage under builders risk insurance policies. The short answer is: It depends. As with most questions pertaining to insurance coverage, the answers depend on the specific policy language and underlying facts required to trigger coverage. Builders risk policies are even more fact specific due to the lack of uniformity of base policy forms and endorsements between insurance carriers. The first step in any analysis is to gather facts and carefully document any impending and potential damages or delays. The facts are crucial because the coverage analysis may vary depending on the specific reason the project was shut down. For example, the analysis would be different if the project was shut down as a result of an express government order, such as those in Northern California and Washington, versus the project shutting down as a result of workers testing positive for COVID-19. Properly analyzing builders risk coverage involves a granular account of the facts and damages, and can require a great deal of hair splitting with respect to specific policy language. Regardless of the strength of the insured’s facts and damages, or the breadth of its policy language, the policyholder still likely faces an uphill battle in finding coverage for COVID-19 related claims. The unfortunate reality of most builders risk policies is that they are property policies that require some evidence of physical loss or damage to trigger coverage. Whether or not COVID-19 claims constitute property damage will be the subject of great debate and litigation over the coming months and years. The outcome will likely depend on how the insured’s jurisdiction ultimately rules on the litany of COVID-19 cases that have already been filed – specifically, how broadly each court interprets the meaning of “physical loss or damage.” Although these key issues have yet to be clearly defined by the courts, some policies are better than others and there are specific variables that could affect the likelihood of coverage. For example, some of the more policyholder-friendly insurance programs may contain coverage extensions for delay in completion, business interruption, loss of rental income, or civil authority that may not be tied to the property damage requirement, and which would tend to support coverage for COVID-19 claims. Even if the insured crosses the initial threshold and can demonstrate a covered claim, the following common endorsements and exclusions may require additional analysis depending on the facts.
    • Virus or Pandemic Exclusions: Virus or pandemic exclusions are not as common on builders risk policies as they may be on other forms of coverage. However, they do exist and, if present, result in a significant barrier to coverage. As with the policy itself, every endorsement is different and should be analyzed in terms of the express language contained in the endorsement and the facts.
    • Abandonment or Cessation of Work: Most builders risk policies include provisions that preclude coverage in the event of the abandonment of the project or a lengthy cessation of work. As a result, the insured should take steps to articulate to the carrier that the project has not been abandoned, and that there exists an intent to return as soon as possible. The insured should also maintain a record of ongoing project oversight and protection efforts taken during the period when construction operations are suspended.
    • Security and Safety Requirements: Many builders risk policies contain provisions requiring the insured to maintain protective safeguards and security protocols throughout the pendency of the project. Safety fencing, lighting and security guards are common examples. The policy should be analyzed to ensure that the policyholder can meet any such requirements during a COVID-19 related shutdown. For example, can the insured continue to staff a security guard? If not, arrangements will likely need to be made with the carrier depending on the language of the policy.
    • Insurable Limits: Builders risk policies are typically underwritten based upon the total completed value of the structure, including materials and labor. The insured will need to analyze the policy to consider whether increased material or labor costs as a result of COVID-19 will alter the terms of coverage, trigger any escalation clauses, or result in an increase in premium due. If increased cost projections become apparent, the insured should report these changes to the carrier immediately.
    • Extensions of Coverage: The insurance industry was facing a hard market even before the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in higher premiums and limited coverage options. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these issues and it may be difficult to obtain coverage extensions on projects that have been shut down. The insured should work with its risk management team (risk manager, insurance broker and lawyer) to engage the carriers to negotiate any necessary coverage extensions resulting from COVID-19 related project delays.
    To summarize, builders risk coverage for COVID-19 claims is far from certain, but not impossible. Insureds should provide notice of a claim to all potentially applicable carriers in order to preserve their rights. The insured should also report increased construction cost and articulate its intent to return to the project to preserve their escalation clause and avoid arguments that they have abandoned the project. The insured should continue to document its claims and damages, and be ready to substantiate its claims and push back on any coverage denial. Throughout the entirety of this process, the insured should work with its risk management team to get out in front of any extensions it may need to complete the project. In a climate where insurance carriers are receiving an insurmountable number of claims, the insured should be prepared to fight for coverage and not simply throw up its hands in the face of a denial. Given the intense social, legislative and executive pressure to cover COVID-19 claims, there may be a tendency for the courts to find coverage in gray areas, particularly if the insured was fortunate enough to have purchased one of the broader coverage forms referenced above. About the Authors Jason M. Adams, Esq. (jadams@gibbsgiden.com) is a partner at Gibbs Giden representing construction professionals in the areas of Construction Law, Insurance Law and Risk Management and Business/Civil Litigation. Adams is also a licensed property and casualty insurance broker and certified Construction Risk & Insurance Specialist (CRIS). Jason represents developers, contractors, public entities, investors, lenders, REITs, design professionals, and other construction professionals at all stages of the construction process. Jason is a published author and sought-after speaker at seminars across the country regarding high level construction risk management and insurance topics. Gibbs Giden is nationally and locally recognized by U. S. News and Best Lawyers as among the “Best Law Firms” in both Construction Law and Construction Litigation. Chambers USA Directory of Leading Lawyers has consistently recognized Gibbs Giden as among California’s elite construction law firms. Cheryl L. Kozdrey, Esq. (clk@sdvlaw.com) is an associate at Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C., a national insurance coverage law firm dedicated exclusively to policyholder representation and advocacy. Cheryl advises insurance brokers, risk managers, and construction industry professionals regarding optimal risk transfer strategies and insurance solutions, including key considerations for Builder’s Risk, Commercial General Liability, D&O, and Commercial Property policies. She assists clients with initial policy reviews, as well as renewals and modification(s) of existing policies to ensure coverage needs are satisfied. Cheryl also represents policyholders throughout the claims process, and in coverage dispute litigation against insurance carriers. She is currently working on some of the largest construction defect cases in the country. Cheryl is a published author and is admitted to practice in the State of California and all federal district courts within the State. Read the court decision
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    Meet Some Key Players in 2020 Environmental Litigation

    May 04, 2020 —
    U.S. courts are set to take up critical environmental law issues in 2020, with pipeline approvals, wildlife protections, and climate change all on the docket for the new year. Judges will weigh the Trump administration’s deregulatory efforts, the impacts of the president’s promised border wall, and just how far states can go to address climate change. Leading the legal battles are lawyers from private practice, environmental organizations, local governments, and the Justice Department. Here are some of the players in environmental law in 2020. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Ellen M. Gilmer, Bloomberg
    Ms. Gilmer may be contacted at egilmer@bloombergenvironment.com