Posts Tagged ‘Washington’

Your Mechanics Lien Resource Treasure Trove

Mechanics Liens used to be a cornerstone topic on this blog; meaning I would write an article about filings, foreclosing and/or litigating a mechanics lien quite frequently. In fact, over the years I sort of consider myself a “lien guy.”  Insofar as construction law goes, mechanic lien and state or federal bond claims has sort of become my thing.

So, where has all of the mechanic lien posts gone?!

If you’re a reader of this blog but not my other blog – The Construction Lien Blog – you may be wondering.  But as you can gather from the blog’s title, a few years ago I created a separate blog focused on lien issues across the country, and post very regularly there on the topic.

As I exhaust the subject on that blog, and don’t to duplicate postings from there over here, most of my mechanic lien and bond claim talk is done on the Construction Lien Blog.  So, if you’re interest in lien laws (and if you are a construction participant or construction law person, lien laws are super important), I recommend you take a look at this other blog.

To give you a more direct path to relevant information, here are the articles posted on the construction lien laws in the states where Wolfe Law Group practices.

Also, be sure to check out these other resources providing through the lien and notice preparation and management company I founded in 2007, Zlien:

Posted in:     Around The Web, From The Experts, Mechanics Lien, Miller Act Claims, State Bond Claims  /  Tags: , , , , , , ,   /   2 Comments

Bizarre Lien Foreclosure Case May Have Far-Reaching Effects in Washington

A bizarre case from the Washington Division I Court of Appeals in Diversified Wood Recycling, Inc. v. Harold Johnson, et al. may have far-reaching consequences for claimants, property owners and construction attorneys foreclosing mechanic liens.

Until the opinion was published last week, Washington lien law seemed pretty clear on two points:

  1. When you file a lien, you can name the owner or reputed owner; but when you foreclose the lien, the foreclosure must be against the actual owner; and
  2. The owner must be named a party in the foreclosure action.

Division I in Diversified Recycling finds to the contrary on both points, creating a previously non-existing tension between §60.04.141 and §60.04.171.

The decision is discussed in substantial detail on my other blog that focuses on mechanic lien laws, the Lien & Credit Journal (published by zlien).  Read the post here:  Foreclosing A Mechanic’s Lien in Washington Just Got More Confusing.

A lot of the Diversified Case has very limited applicability, as it arises out of a bizarre fact pattern. The trial judge even commented on how the situation would create a “hard to believe” bar exam question.  And because of the unique facts, it feels the trial and appeal court went out of their way to serve the ends of justice rather than allow injustice based on technicalities.

However, it will be very interesting to see what happens with this decision, and whether its appealed to the Washington Supreme Court. While Division I does not comment in their opinion about the liberal construction it affords the lien statutes, they certainly construed §60.04.141 and §60.04.171 liberally, in line with the approach in N. Coast Elect. Co. v. Ariz. Elec. Serv. (Wash. Division I. 8/23/2010) where they stated:

In the lien context…there is a strong statutory directive that “[the lien statutes]…be liberally construed to provide security for all parties intended to be protected by their provisions.” RCW 60.04.900….See, e.g. Northlake Concrete Prods., Inc. v. Wylie, 34 Wn.App. 810, 818, 663 P.2d 1380 (1983) (explaining the Legislature’s intent that “the lien laws shall be liberally construed with the view to effecting their object” meant that “when it has been determined that persons come within the operation of the act it will be liberally applied to them.”

As any student of Washington construction law (and construction lien law) knows, there is a lien law battle being waged in the Washington Supreme Court over whether strict or liberal construction of these statutes should prevail in the controversial Williams v. Athletics’s Field matter.

I’m sure there is more to come on all of this soon.

Posted in:     Mechanics Lien, Washington  /  Tags: , , , , , ,   /   Leave a comment

Ignorance of Law Can Cost You Debarment on Federal and State Construction Projects

I recently came across an interesting blog post on Mike Purdy’s Public Contracting Blog that includes a report by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries releasing an updated list of debarred contractors in Washington.  The post itself highlights the hugely important issue of contractor debarment that every state or federal contractor should be aware of.

Basically, if you significantly violate certain laws as a contractor on a state or federal construction project (i.e. prevailing wage laws and workers’ compensation laws), you may be debarred and no longer allowed to work on a state or federal construction project. Pretty serious stuff.

Debarment may last until all penalties are paid in full or, if those laws are violated on numerous occasions, a contractor might be debarred for a period of years on top of monetary fines.

The report by the Washington State Department of Labor cited above provides folks with some concrete data on this issue so we can all better understand what most frequently causes debarment. The report includes the names of all Washington State contractors who are debarred, why they were debarred, how long they are debarred for, and whether or not their penalties have been paid.

Though this report only regards debarment by Washington State authorities for Washington State projects, each state has its own annually updated list you can refer to online, as does the federal government. All in all, they look a lot like the Washington list.

So, most importantly, how can public contractors avoid debarment? The answer here I can give you: focus on prevention.

First, be certain that you are not violating any prevailing wage laws, workers’ compensation laws, contractor registration laws, apprenticeship requirements, and/or industrial insurance laws. Read up on the laws yourself if possible (we have some information about state and federal contracting laws on this blog), or hire a lawyer to help you.  In the long run, the money you spend with an attorney to understand and accommodate these legalities will be worth it.

Second, check the relevant state or federal list of debarred contractors to make sure you’re not signing a contract with a debarred contractor or subcontractor.

Finally, keep meticulous records and be extra careful to make sure you are complying with these laws.

Doing whatever it takes to keep your contracting business alive and thriving is key here, so make sure to remain proactive.

Posted in:     Prevailing Wages, State & Federal Contracting  /  Tags: , ,   /   1 Comment

Construction Legislation Now Pending in Washington

The new legislative session has begun in Washington, and a number of bills affecting the construction industry have been introduced. We wrote a full blog post on one of the more interesting bills introduced to address the controversial Williams v. Athletic Field construction lien case. Here is a summary of some of the other pending legislation:

House Bill 1531 (Adjusting the minimum wage rate based on changes in consumer pricing)
Introduced by Rep. Cary Condotta, (R-Wenatchee) (R) on January 25, 2011, requires the calculations for the adjusted minimum wage rate to include the actual change in consumer prices since September 1, 2000, based on the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers, or a successor index. This act requires the new calculations to begin September 30, 2011.

House Bill 1532 (Creating a good faith defense for certain minimum wage and overtime compensation complaints)
Introduced by Rep. Cary Condotta, (R-Wenatchee) (R) on January 25, 2011, relieves liability for employers who violate minimum wage or overtime pay requirements when the act or omission occurs in good faith and in reliance on rules, rule interpretations by the Director of the Department of Labor and Industries, or administrative or interpretive opinions issues by the Department.

House Bill 1535 (Providing requirements for business payment contracts)
Introduced by Rep. Cary Condotta, (R-Wenatchee) (R) on January 25, 2011, provides for specific requirements for business payment contracts. This act requires a separate signature line for a business representative to accept the terms of the contract on behalf of another and makes the business representative personally liable for the contract. This act applies to business payment contracts executed on or after July 1, 2012.

House Bill 1559 (Limiting indemnification agreements involving design professionals)
Introduced by Rep. Kathy Haigh, (D-Shelton) (D) on January 25, 2011, modifies current law to limit indemnification agreements involving design professionals. This act allows for the indemnification of a public agency in a claim filed by a design professional only to the extent of any negligence, recklessness, or willful misconduct of the design professional. This act may not be waived or modified by contractual agreement, act, or omission of the parties.

Senate Bill 5444 (Concerning the construction of a state boundary bridge)
Introduced by Sen. Steve Conway, (D-Tacoma) (D) on January 25, 2011, to make specific provisions for the construction of a state boundary bridge. This act requires specific conditions in any requests for proposals issued by the Department of Transportation for the bridge, including a requirement that the contractor use products, materials, and components manufactured in Washington or the adjoining state with which the project is designed. This act also provides other considerations for the contract, unless any would jeopardize federal funding. (Companion: HB 1383).

Senate Bill 5485 (Maximizing the use of our state’s natural resources)
Introduced by Sen. Jim Hargrove, (D-Hoquiam) (D) on January 26, 2011, to adopt, by reference, the international green construction code to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts at earlier stages in the building and construction design process. The state building code council is required to review the state building code and adopt changes as necessary to promote the greater use of wood and wood products.

Senate Bill 5562 (Creating a task force on construction crane safety review)
Introduced by Sen. Jerome Delvin, (R-Richland) (R) on January 31, 2011, to create a task force on construction crane safety review to review the implementation of statutes concerning crane safety. Membership will consist of legislators, stakeholders from the construction crane industry, and a representative of the department of labor and industries. The task force expires December 31, 2011.

House Bill 1761 (Limiting private activity bond issues by out-of-state issuers)
Senate Bill 5618 (Limiting private activity bond issues by out-of-state issuers)
Introduced by Rep. Hans Dunshee, (D-Snohomish) (D) on February 1, 2011, to allow lines of group disability insurance, except short-term or student-only plans, to be issued to more groups when certain conditions are met. (Companion: SB 5617).

House Bill 1788 (Concerning the practice of registered interior design)
Introduced by Rep. Tami Green, (D-Lakewood) (D) on February 2, 2011, creates registration requirements and fees for those who practice interior design. This act includes design services rendered for new construction, alterations, or interior repairs on any nonstructural interior area of any occupancy not exceeding four thousand square feet. This act creates the state Board for Registered Interior Designers consisting of five members appointed by the Governor. This act requires the Board to adopt a national exam to test competencies in codes and practices in interior, nonstructural design work.

House Bill 1806 (Concerning construction and industrial storm water general permits)
Introduced in the House on February 2, 2011, requires construction and industrial storm water general permits issued by the department to include an enforceable adaptive storm water mechanism using benchmarks and action levels as goals. This act sets out specific criteria for monitoring compliance under industrial storm water general permits. This act allows the department to modify or terminate the permit if the permit holder is not satisfying the controls in place with the original permit. This act also creates reporting and assessment requirements of the department regarding these permits. This act expires January 1, 2015.

House Bill 1809 (Establishing a preference for resident contractors on public works)
Senate Bill 5662 (Establishing a preference for resident contractors on public works)
Introduced by Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, (D-Sequim) (D) on February 3, 2011, to require the state or a municipality to award a contract to the responsible bidder with the lowest responsive bid after a resident contractor preference of seven percent has been applied. (Companion: SB 5662).

Senate Bill 5131 (Expanding the definition of public facilities eligible for impact fee credits)
Substitute offered in the Senate on February 3, 2011, to provide that a local government’s capital facilities plan, included in its comprehensive plan adopted under the growth management act, must include public streets, roads, and transit, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities.

Senate Bill 5250 (Modifying the design-build procedure for transportation projects)
Substitute offered in the Senate on February 3, 2011, to provide that at the request of the transportation committees of the Legislature or the Office of Financial Management, the department of transportation must provide a written explanation as to why the design-build process was not used. The department must periodically evaluate the design-build process

Senate Bill 5643 (Revising the definition of “well” in water well construction)
Introduced by Sen. Val Stevens, (R-Arlington) (R) on February 3, 2011, to revise the definition of “well” for purposes of water well construction to provide that “well” does not mean an excavation of less than six feet in depth, regardless of purpose or method of construction.

House Bill 1853 (Regarding structural engineers)
Introduced by Rep. Mike Sells, (D-Everett) (D) on February 7, 2011, modifies current law to allow to allow an engineer to provide structural engineering services on certain structures without being registered as a structural engineer. This act excludes from the definition of significant structure non-occupied towers containing telecommunication and broadcast antennas, allowing non-registered structural engineers to provide services on such towers.

Posted in:     Construction News  /  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   /   2 Comments

Washington Supreme Court Blog Review’s 2010 Docket

The Washington Supreme Court publishes an excellent blog that is frequently updated to provide readers with information about the justices and their cases. While a lot of their docket is review of criminal decisions and sentences, they do of course also review civil matter consequential to the construction industry. We highlighted one example just recently, when the Supreme Court overturned law disallowing contractual parties to waive judicial review of arbitration awards.

In any event, I was interested in a post last week that reviewed the Supreme Court’s 2010 docket, breaking down the voting tendencies of the justices and more. If you’re interested in Washington jurisprudence and the tendency of the state’s high court, check out the post and the great information therein.

Posted in:     Washington  /  Tags: ,   /   2 Comments