SAFECO FIELD CASE MEANS PUBLIC CONTRACTORS CAN’T USE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS TO DEFEND CONSTRUCTION DEFECTS

Date: February 25th, 2013

Recently, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington decided the case of Wash. State Major League Baseball Stadium v. Huber, Hunt & Nichols-Kiewit Constr. Co.  The case arose out of construction defects discovered at Safeco Field.  The Mariners and a municipal corporation that owns the stadium sued the contractor that built the stadium.  The contractor in turn sued two subcontractors.

The claimed defect was the failure of fireproofing material to adhere to exposed structural beams and columns at the stadium.  The Mariners and the stadium owner claimed that the primer and the fireproofing coating chosen by the contractors were incompatible with each other and resulted in the need to make millions of dollars of repairs.

The main legal issue in the case was whether the contractor and its subcontractors could escape liability by claiming defenses based on the statute of limitations and a related concept known as the statute of repose.  The contractor had previously attempted to avoid liability by arguing a statute of limitations defense. In a prior opinion, the Washington Supreme Court held that the statute of limitations did not apply to claims being brought by public entities for the public benefit.

To read the entire article recently published in the Daily Journal of Commerce, click here.