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Real Property & Development Review

Tag Archives: Arbitration

Supreme Court Holds Condo Defect Claims Subject to Arbitration

Posted in Real Estate

In an important decision, on December 24, 2009, the Washington Supreme Court held that claims under the Washington Condominium Act (WCA) are subject to arbitration despite provisions in the Act requiring judicial resolution of claims where condominium owners agree to arbitrate disputes in their purchase and sale agreements. The case is Satomi Owners Ass’n v. Satomi,… Continue Reading

Arbitration Clause Can Apply to Nonsignatories

Posted in Construction

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled an arbitration clause can be applied against (or for the benefit of) persons who do not sign the clause, as long as governing state law makes that extension to nonsignatories possible.  At issue in Arthur Anderson LLP v Carlisle was a tax shelter scheme gone bust, which in turn generated suits… Continue Reading

Notice Defense Is Subject to Arbitration, Not “Predicate Requirement” to Enforcement of Arbitration Clause

Posted in Construction

The contract in this case stated a time limit on claims — 21 days after occurrence of the event giving rise to the claim (fairly typical AIA clause).   The subcontractor argued that the arbitration clause did not apply because (1) the contractor failed to comply with the 21 day notice rule and (2) the 21 day notice rule… Continue Reading

Claim Forfeited for Failure to Pay AAA Filing Fee

Posted in Construction

The obvious question about this case is why the parties even bothered to bring an appeal involving a $2,500 arbitration award arising from the construction of a dental office.  With that said, however, the case is instructive by demonstrating the broad authority of the arbitrator to fashion remedies — here, by conditioning the owner’s recovery… Continue Reading

Arbitration Clause Trumps State Administrative Tribunal

Posted in Construction

Not exactly a news flash but worth noting all the same:  today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court once again affirms the virtual supremacy of arbitration clauses.   Here, the dispute revolved around TV’s "Judge Alex" and an entertainment lawyer.  It seems the good Judge failed to pay his counsel.  To collect the debt, the lawyer… Continue Reading

Severin Watch

Posted in Construction

This procedurally tangled case between Fluor and the structural steel subcontractor Walter on the DOC project in Aberdeen will be of virtually no interest to anyone but the parties themselves, except for the following two kernels: The Court of Appeals recognizes — and presumably adopts in Washington — the federal Severin doctrine (a GC who has… Continue Reading

Judicial Review of Arbitration Awards

Posted in Construction

Arbitration awards are notoriously difficult to overturn in court because the various arbitration statutes list only narrow grounds for appeal such as arbitrator bias.  But are the parties free to provide for a broader scope of court review by so stipulating in the arbitration contract itself?  Various courts have said various things on the matter, and… Continue Reading

Failure to Raise “Timely” Challenge to Arbitrator’s Alleged Bias is “Fatal” to Defense

Posted in Construction

This case arose from a home remodel contract and went to private arbitration before Seattle arbitrator Don Logerwell who ruled in favor of the contractor.  In seeking to vacate the award, the owner claimed that Logerwell was biased toward the contractor because of a close relationship with the contractor’s counsel. The Court rejected this challenge… Continue Reading

Scope of Arbitration Clause Is Up to Court, Not Arbitrator

Posted in Construction

Building on its recent Tacoma Narrows case summarized in our April 25 post, Division 2 here again affirms that the scope of an arbitration clause — i.e., whether a particular dispute falls within the clause or not — is for the court to decide, unless the parties have stated otherwise in the arbitration agreement.

No Interest Accrual on Arbitration Award

Posted in Construction

Fluor Daniel has lost its appeal to obtain prejudgment interest on an arbitration award entered against the Department of Corrections.  The Supreme Court held that interest does not begin to accrue on an arbitration award until the award is turned into a court judgment.   Previous coverage of this case by WCL is found here and… Continue Reading

Fee Award Vacated in Motion to Compel Arbitration

Posted in Construction

The prevailing party fee clause in this case said that fees would be awarded in connection with any action to collect sums due.  What about prevailing on a motion to compel arbitration to decide the debt collection dispute — is that enough to trigger the fee clause?  The Supreme Court said no — legal fees are not… Continue Reading

Court of Appeals Declines to Apply FAA to Washington Condo Project

Posted in Construction

Under Washington’s Condominium Act, a unit purchaser is guaranteed the right to pursue judicial relief for breach of the statutory warranties.  The issue is this case is whether this right of judicial access is trumped by federal law (specifically, the Federal Arbitration Act or FAA) so as to compel private arbitration of the disputes.  Division… Continue Reading

Court Rejects Arbitration in Tacoma Narrows Bridge Dispute

Posted in Construction

Samsung entered into a purchase order with Nippon Steel to provide the bridge deck for the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a design-build project awarded by the WSDOT to a Bechtel-Kiewit joint venture known as Tacoma Narrows Constructors (TNC).  Nippon Steel was a first-tier subcontractor to TNC. Delays and changes related to the bridge deck resulted… Continue Reading

Court Affirms Arbitration Award Arising from Forged Contract

Posted in Construction

This case illustrates what a friend calls the "black cloud" theory of construction litigation — certain projects seem cursed from the get-go and invariably plunge into dispute and disarray.  Nothing seems to go right. Nominally, this case is about whether to vacate an arbitration award rendered in favor of Sellen arising from a tenant improvement project.  As is… Continue Reading