Washington Supreme Court Expands the Ability of Parties to Define How and When Construction Defect Causes of Action May Be Brought

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In a unanimous decision, the Washington Supreme Court has approved of contractual clauses broadly defining the scope of how and when causes of action may be asserted. The case, Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facility District v. The Baseball Club of Seattle, L.P., --- P.3d ---, 2013 WL 363453 (Jan. 31, 2013), emphasizes the importance for owners, contractors and design professionals to closely review all contractual obligations located in both prime contracts and subcontracts, which provide how and when a claim may asserted.

The case arose out of the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District’s (“PFD”) contract with Huber, Hunt & Nichols-Kiewit Construction Company (“Kiewit”) for construction of Safeco Field. Several years after completion of the project, PFD noticed widespread defects on the face of the structural steel for the project. The project owner brought a breach of contract action against Kiewit, alleging that the work was defective. Kiewit then brought third party claims against its subcontractors and moved for summary judgment, claiming that PFD’s action was barred by the statute of repose.

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