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Oles Morrison

The Washington Supreme Court Issued Decision in Conway Construction Co. v. City of Puyallup Published in the Daily Journal of Commerce

Thu Jul 29, 2021

On July 8, the Washington Supreme Court issued a decision in Conway Construction Co. v. City of Puyallup, handing down an important win to public works contractors in a climate that has tended to recognize interests of owners over contractors.

Oles Morrison’s Construction practice group, namely James Craig Rusk and Ryan Matthew Gilchrist, along with others provided counsel.

This decision published in the Daily Journal of Commerce ( is a welcome departure for contractors and subcontractors in the state of Washington after years of decisions at all levels of the Washington legal system putting the rights of public owners above those of contractors. The court here took steps toward leveling the playing field that has continually drifted in favor of public owners, despite legislative intent to the contrary.

While this ruling will certainly not solve all of the difficulties contractors face in Washington state, the court’s dicta and use of legislative intent may show that the court’s sentiment is beginning to shift. As the court noted, public owners too often act as if litigation is free to the detriment of contractors and subcontractors. That behavior has not only been tolerated by the courts, but encouraged through increasingly troublesome decisions favoring public owners. This decision signals a shift to a more equitable legal environment for contractors in Washington state.