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County, wine industry approaching smoother waters

County, wine industry approaching smoother waters

A learning experience. That is how both vineyard/winery owners and county offici...

Banner Bank to open Salmon Creek branch

Banner Bank to open Salmon Creek branch

Banner Bank, a Walla Walla-based financial institution with a branch in East Van...

Study: $7 billion investment in state transportation would yield $42 billion in benefits

Study: $7 billion investment in state transportation would yield $42 billion in benefits

A healthy ROI awaits the state of Washington if its leaders are willing to make ...

Downtown Vancouver cocktail bar readies for opening

Downtown Vancouver cocktail bar readies for opening

The owners of Grocery Cocktail and Social, a new cocktail bar/restaurant located...

WSU Vancouver: Enhancing the business community for 25 years

WSU Vancouver: Enhancing the business community for 25 years

25 years ago, Washington State University opened its Vancouver branch on the Cla...

Maruichi Northwest to invest $30 million in port steel mill

Maruichi Northwest to invest $30 million in port steel mill

A new steel mill is coming to the Port of Vancouver USA’s Centennial Industrial ...

Health Care & Hospitals

Healthiest Companies of Southwest Washington 2014

Healthiest Companies of Southwest Washington 2014

Recognizing the employers who go above and beyond to create a healthy workforce

Studies continue to show that good health practices at work create a more productive and efficient environment with less absenteeism, proving that the “daily grind” doesn’t have to be a grind. From a Vancouver-based manufacturer to a regional law firm, these four workplaces are making the 9-to-5 a happier and healthie...

Food & Agriculture

County, wine industry approaching smoother waters

County, wine industry approaching smoother waters

A learning experience. That is how both vineyard/winery owners and county officials seem to view the past few years, as they sought solutions that would encourage the development of wineries in the county while mitigating impacts to neighboring parcels. And, like many learning experiences, it was sometimes fraught with mistakes, misunderstandings and frustration. But Marty Snell, Clark County comm...

News Briefs

Riverview Community Bank posts $1.1 million in second quarter earnings

Riverview Bancorp Inc. reported this week that it earned $1.1 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, in the second fiscal quarter ended September 30, 2014. The second quarter results also included a $3.5 million reduction in nonperforming assets, an 18.6 percent decline.

Spotlight

ExecuTech Lease Group: Putting the personal touch into equipment leasing

ExecuTech Lease Group: Putting the personal touch into equipment leasing

Many restaurants and small businesses use a cash register and a separate terminal to handle sales, while another PC handles timecards and inventory management. But as the business grows, so does the need for a full-scale point of sale (POS) system. Such a system in a restaurant, for example, integrates everything from placing an order to a credit card swipe into one piece of equipment. But this ty...

The business of construction continues to see change

The business of construction continues to experience change. There are a number of new legal cases related to construction defects and contractor liability that are important to pay attention to as 2007 comes to a close.

The business of construction continues to experience change. There are a number of new legal cases related to construction defects and contractor liability that are important to pay attention to as 2007 comes to a close.

Expansion of the Economic Loss Rule

One of the most significant new developments with regard to contractor liability is the expansion of the “economic loss rule.” This long-standing rule essentially prevents property owners from asserting a negligence claim against the contractor for defective construction. In a recent case, Alejandre v. Bull, the Washington Supreme Court made clear that the homeowner cannot assert a negligence claim for economic damages if there are construction defects. The court declined to recognize any cause of action for negligent construction because there was no evidence of personal or physical injury.

While the economic loss rule bars a homebuyer from making a negligent construction claim against the builder, the buyer may still be covered under the “implied warranty of habitability.” As the name suggests, this means that the seller or builder must present the home to the buyer in a “habitable” condition. However, the warranty is of limited scope and only covers defects that are serious enough to impact the safety or practical livability of the home. Mere defects in workmanship are generally not covered because the warranty does not impose an obligation upon a builder to construct a “perfect” home. Defects giving rise to these types of claims can include water intrusion and other major structural defects.

Abolishment of completion and acceptance doctrine

Contractors have always been liable for physical injury to the property owner caused by negligent construction. However, the “completion and acceptance doctrine” protected contractors from liability for injury to persons other than the buyer (third parties) caused by defective workmanship, so long as the work was “completed” in compliance with plans and specifications and “accepted” by the buyer after inspection. After inspection, the risk of liability was passed to the owner, since the owner controlled the property.

All of this changed in 2007. In Davis v. Baugh Industrial Contractors Inc., the Washington Supreme Court discarded this concept calling it outmoded, incorrect and harmful. The Court ruled that contractors – not property owners – will be liable if defective construction harms third-parties. In short, the contractors are now liable for any physical harm to any person resulting from their construction defects.

Expansion of timeframe for filing suit on construction defect claims

Another significant change occurred in late 2006 when the Washington Supreme Court decided the 1000 Virginia Limited Partnership v. Vertecs suit. The Court decided that the “discovery rule” applies in determining the timeframe in which a homeowner must bring a lawsuit for construction defect claims. In so doing, the Court differentiated between a breach of contract dispute and a construction defect claim. An action for breach of a written construction contract must be brought within six years of the breach. However, if the dispute is based on defective construction, the discovery rule applies. Under this rule, the buyer gets six years after the completion of construction to discover the defect, and then they have an additional six years after discovery to bring the claim. This means that a claim for defective construction could be brought up to 12 years after completion of construction.

With so much activity in the courts, contractors should take care to keep themselves informed of this ever-changing legal landscape within the building industry. There are many classes and newsletters available to help with this endeavor, including offerings from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries and the Building Industry Association of Clark County (BIA).

Kelly Walsh is an attorney for Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 360-905-1432.

Opinion

Focus Column

How fitness makes you better at work

How fitness makes you better at work

In August of this year I had the opportunity to submit an article to the Vancouver Business Journal entitled “Healthcare...

5 Ways to win in workplace wellness

5 Ways to win in workplace wellness

In the building industry, you might not expect to need a fast horse in the race to win in wellness. Construction workers...

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