An Obligation to Provide Notice and an Opportunity to Cure May not End after Termination, and Why an Early Offer of Settlement Should Be Considered on Public Works Contracts

Business person holding contract

Attorney Jeff Kaatz analyzes Conway Construction Company v. City of Puyallup.

August 17, 2020
Jeff Kaatz - Ahlers Cressman & Sleight

In 2015, the City of Puyallup (“City”) and Conway Construction Company (“Conway”) executed a public works contract for road improvements (“Project”). On March 9, 2016, approximately four months after work started on the Project, the City issued Conway a notice of suspension and breach of contract and identified nine defective and uncorrected work and safety concerns. Conway denied any wrongdoing, and on March 25, 2016, the City issued a notice of termination for default and withheld payments due to Conway.

Conway subsequently filed suit in Pierce County Superior Court and alleged the City’s termination for default breached the contract and sought a determination that the City’s termination for default was improper and should be deemed a termination for convenience. Conway sought approximately $1.25 million in damages and recovery of its attorney fees and costs. Following a bench trial, the Trial Court found the City breached the contract and awarded Conway damages, attorney fees, and costs. The City appealed.[1]

On appeal, after affirming the trial court’s determination that the City improperly terminated Conway, the Court of Appeals considered two other issues raised by the City. First, whether the City was entitled to a set-off for replacing defective work discovered after Conway was terminated. Second, whether Conway is entitled to attorney fees if it did not make the statutorily required offer of settlement per RCW 39.04.240.

Mr. Kaatz may be contacted at Jeff.Kaatz@acslawyers.com



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