Proposed Bill Could Dramatically Alter the Construction Industry

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Sen. Brian Weinstein (D-41, Mercer Island) has introduced Senate Bill 6385, which would add a new section to the Construction Defects statute, RCW 64.50 et seq. At the same time, Rep. Brendan Williams (D-22, Olympia) has introduced a companion bill, HB 2837, in the House of Representatives. Sen. Weinstein recently offered a substitute version of the bill. This bill, as revised on January 24, creates a reasonable care standard for all construction professionals

involved in the construction of any improvement on real property.

Sen. Weinstein’s bill proposes several dramatic changes in Washington construction law. Washington currently does not recognize a cause of action for negligent construction. If this bill passes, residential owners would be able to sue any construction professional who performed construction on their property regardless of whether the owner had a contractual relationship with the construction professional. Suits by a subsequent purchaser of a residence would be allowed. Privity of contract will no longer matter.

The bill would vitiate longstanding Washington law regarding construction contracts, including

the economic loss rule, privity of contract and the implied warranty of workmanship. Washington has used the economic loss rule to separate breach of contract cases from tort cases. The economic loss rule limits a contracting party’s recovery of purely economic damages to the remedies provided for in the parties’ contract. Economic damages are defined as all damages that do not result in property damage or personal injury.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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