On July 17, 2017, Seth Chastain of Levy | von Beck | Comstock won a significant victory in front of the Washington State Court of Appeals. After reviewing Seth’s briefing and hearing Seth’s oral argument, the Court of Appeals unanimously decided to overturn the Superior Court’s summary judgment dismissal of his client’s breach of contract action against a prime contractor relating to a commercial construction project. Without the Court of Appeals’ intervention, the dismissal would have completely precluded any chance the client had to recover damages arising from the contractor’s botched construction work.
The client involved in this appeal is an owner of a commercial building in Kirkland, Washington. In 2012, the client entered into a construction contract with a prime contractor for the construction of that commercial building. A dispute arose over the course of that project regarding the parties’ performance obligations. The parties executed a settlement agreement in which they purportedly agreed to hold each other harmless for any future claims on the project. Moreover, the agreement called for the prime contractor to be released from any warranty work on the building. The Superior Court interpreted this settlement agreement to mean only one thing – that the parties mutually released each other from all claims arising from the construction project, including the client’s claims for breach of contract because of the prime contractor’s defective work.
However, the Court of Appeals squarely disagreed. It found that a reasonable interpretation of the settlement agreement, after taking into consideration the context surrounding its execution, retained the client’s breach of contract claims against the prime contractor. Because of this, the client’s claims were reinstated, which is a big win for the client and Levy | von Beck | Comstock.
A copy of the Washington Court of Appeals decision can be found here.