Subscribe in a reader

ISSAQUAH LAW GROUP

Issaquah Law Group: Experienced Counsel; Client Focus

PHILOSOPHY: Formed in 2014, Issaquah Law Group is a law firm with one focus: providing businesses and insurers with high quality legal representation with the responsiveness of a smaller firm. ILG was founded on the principle that strong client relationships are the key to successful legal representation and strong relationships are built upon clear and consistent communication. 

LITIGATION: We work closely with our clients to fully and accurately understand their goals, work collaboratively to formulate specific legal strategies, and execute the agreed plan of action utilizing methods most likely to result in the efficient and effective resolution of the matter. ILG attorneys have a broad base of litigation experience to draw on in all Federal and State courts from on-the-ground investigations to Supreme Court appeals in the areas of personal injury and wrongful death, product liability, commercial general liability, labor & employment, construction litigation, and catastrophic losses due to fire and explosion.

BUSINESS LAW: Rarely is the path from point A to point B a straight line, so our role in a business law practice is to find alternatives, devise workable strategies, and keep your business ideas, goals and objectives moving toward realization. ILG’s business attorneys help clients achieve their goals with respect to business formation, intellectual property, labor and employment, CAN-SPAM, copyright and trademark

COMMUNITY: In addition, the Lawyers at Issaquah Law Group remain active in the legal and civic community. A core commitment of our Issaquah Attorneys is community service. Our attorneys' civic involvement includes the King County Civil Rights Commission; the City of Issaquah Planning Policy Commission; the Northwest Screenwriters Guild, service as a pro tem judge. We live and work in the Pacific Northwest, and we aim to make it a better place.

In addition, through The Amateur Law Professor Blog and LinkedIn postings, we share pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Supreme Court, as well as the pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Courts of Appeal so that our clients can be as update to date on cutting legal issues as we are.

WA Legal Roundup - Division I

S.D. Deacon Corp. Of Wash. v. Gaston Bros. Excavating, Inc.

The first line of this opinion, authored by Judge Becker, reads: "Trial courts should take care not to let the frivolous lien statute be misused to deprive contractors of their right to a trial on a lien claim."

Not exactly soft wording.

Subcontractor bid on two separate projects at a 24-hour fitness and both bids were accepted. The contractor later sent an agreement saying that the price was for the total job, and encompassed the total agreement between the parties. The agreement only listed the total bid of one of the jobs. When the subcontractor balked, the contractor unilaterally submitted a change order which just happened to make the total what it had paid the subcontractor to date. Naturally, the subcontractor asserted a lien for what he felt he was due on the two jobs to which he bid. The contractor moved for summary removal of the lien arguing that the final agreement it signed was the end all be all and that the subcontractor had been paid in full given its unilateral change in the terms.

The trial court decided it on affidavits and found the lien was frivolous. However, the summary removal proceedings are only to be used when its actually undisputed as a matter of law:

     The trial court's reasoning cannot be sustained. Most important, it was disputed whether the July 5 agreement was intended by the parties to cover all of Gaston's work on the fitness center. It is a question of fact whether the parties to a written agreement intend an integrated contract. Emrich v. Connell, 105 Wn.2d 551, 556, 716 P.2d 863 (1986). While boilerplate integration clauses can provide strong evidence of integration, they are not operative if they are premised on incorrect statements of fact. Denny's Rests. v. Sec. Union Title Ins. Co., 71 Wn. App. 194, 203, 859 P.2d 619 (1993). A court may consider evidence of negotiations and circumstances surrounding the formation of the contract, and if the agreement is not completely integrated, additional terms may be proved to the extent they are consistent with the written terms. Denny's, 71 Wn. App. at 202; Emrich, 105 Wn.2d at 556.

. . .

     There are other issues undermining the court's finding that Deacon paid Gaston in full for all of its work on the project. These include how to account for the 10 percent retention that Gaston claims is still due. And there are no invoices, bills, or other documents explaining why Deacon's final unilateral change order happened to be for the precise figure that caused their final obligation to Gaston to be exactly zero.

. . .

     Here there is no dispute that the parties had an agreement and that Gaston performed work. The only dispute concerns the amount owed. The central issue is whether the parties intended the July agreement to be fully integrated. This is not the type of dispute that can be resolved in a summary proceeding by making findings of the sort that would be entered after a trial. Each side had evidence supporting its position. It is not dispositive that there was evidence to support the court's finding that the contract was integrated. Lacking are any findings supporting the conclusion that the lien was invalid beyond legitimate dispute.

Subscribe in a reader