Technical Excellence in Government Contracts
and Construction Matters Since 1893.
Oles Morrison

Deep roots in the Pacific states, generations of experience, and a long track record of success on complex construction projects have established Oles Morrison as one of the leading construction law firms on the West Coast with a national reputation. Construction law has been our principal practice area for more than 85 years. Our team of seasoned attorneys advises general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, public and private owners, engineers and architects in building the nation’s infrastructure, transportation systems and skyline. From contract procurement and dispute resolution to commercial litigation and real estate transactions, we assist clients in all stages of the construction process finding solutions that help our clients stay in business and complete their jobs.

The Oles Morrison Construction Law group is a results-oriented team that uses creative problem solving to pursue successful outcomes for clients while also trying to maintain valued business connections with third parties that are essential to long term success. Our team has the ability to handle issues impacting construction projects from start to finish, including:

Claims

Construction claims are often technical and complicated. Our expansive experience in construction law coupled with an understanding of the technical aspects of construction projects enable us to counsel our clients in all types of construction claims, including: design and construction defect claims, delay and acceleration claims, disruption inefficiency claims, differing site conditions, change orders, entitlements and quantum, contract balance claims, mechanic’s and materialman’s lien claims and other matters. We assist with these issues during the project, explore alternative dispute resolution techniques and when necessary, our litigation attorneys work to obtain favorable verdicts on behalf of our clients.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Our client’s construction projects require careful orchestration of people, resources, tools and budgets. When conflicts arise, the key to success is finding a solution quickly and cost effectively. Our team uses a broad range of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques, including mediation and arbitration to achieve positive solutions for our clients while preserving relationships and continuing work on the project.

Litigation

Construction projects are complex, often involving multiple parties with intricate contracts. Changes and unexpected conditions often lead to requests for contract adjustments, and a certain number of those adjustments lead to disputes. When alternative dispute resolution fails, and the parties litigate before judges or juries, our experienced litigation attorneys work to obtain favorable verdicts and cost-effective settlements on behalf of our clients in a wide range of state and federal courts. We have handled claims of all sizes throughout the construction process, including: bid protests and disputes, differing site conditions, construction delays and accelerations, cardinal changes, construction defects, environmental hazards, structural issues, safety matters, bonding issues and every other issue facing construction projects.

Transactions

With a deep bench of construction law attorneys, we assist clients through every step of the procurement and construction process. We help with contract drafting, review, negotiation and administration, all with an eye toward mitigating future risks. Our team understands the complicated collision between ever-changing statutory and regulatory schemes and the businesses affected by them and we advise our clients daily of the impact on these issues.

Insurance Recovery & Insurance Coverage

We help commercial policyholders in the construction industry understand the complexities and nuances of their insurance coverages. When issues arise, we advise our clients on strategies for insurance claims that promote maximum recovery and getting back to work. Our team of attorneys has assisted clients in recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance claims.

Procurement Disputes (Bidding & Bid Protests)

We understand that protecting our client’s customer relationships is critical to success. Our attorneys advise clients involved both in challenging or defending pre- and post-award protests in all forums, including the Government Accountability Office (GAO), U.S. Court of Federal Claims (COFC) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Handling bid protests of all sizes and complexity, our team has a proven record of success in multiple industries.

Surety & Bond Actions

Representing some of the nation’s largest sureties and bond producers has provided us with the knowledge and experience to help our clients navigate through surety-related disputes, including disputes with sureties themselves. Our team is skilled at investigating, evaluating and responding to claims in performance bond defaults. We work with clients on private projects, as well as those secured via state or federal procurement processes.

Liens, Claims & Defense

General contractors, real estate developers and subcontractors in the construction industry come to us for guidance on handling complex payment and collection issues. Our skilled team prepares and records construction liens, prosecutes and defends lien claims and resolves payment disputes through alternative dispute resolution and litigation. Prosecuting or defending a lien claim can be a long process, but our experienced attorneys work to move through it as quickly as possible, allowing our clients to keep their projects moving forward.

Risk Management

Successful construction projects proactively address issues to mitigate risk and limit future liability. Our goal is to help our clients anticipate potential risks at the beginning of the project to avoid liability, damages and loss throughout the process. We assist in helping our construction clients mitigate risk through effective construction administration, including: contract negotiation, preparation and review; insurance review and counsel; and development of contractor risk management programs.

Attorneys

J. Craig Rusk
J. Craig Rusk

J. Craig Rusk

Washington Alaska P: 206.467.7475  | F: 206.682.6234 rusk@oles.com
Angelia D. Wesch
Angelia D. Wesch

Angelia D. Wesch

Washington Alaska P: 206.467.5628  | F: 206.682.6234 wesch@oles.com

Representative Matters

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Achieved multimillion dollar settlement of contractor claims against the State of Hawaii involving changed conditions incurred in construction of a large sewage treatment plant.

Represented a drilling contractor in a dispute with the California Department of Transportation on claims for encountering differing site conditions during the construction of a portion of a new highway in slide prone territory. Assisted in the preparation of the claims and pursued it through arbitration resulting in an award to the client

Represented heavy civil contractor in delay claim prosecution against local public entity on a road rehabilitation project.

Misreprentation and nondisclosure of soil conditions claim prosecution for heavy civil contractor in California Office of Administrative Hearings Public Works Contract Arbitration against state agency on a multi-year highway construction project.

Heavy civil contractor differing site condition and delay claim prosecution in California Office of Administrative Hearings Public Works Contract Arbitration against local public entity on a multi-year bridge replacement project.

Recovery on delay claim prosecution for heavy civil contractor against state agency on a multiyear railroad bridge replacement project.

Represented JV prime contractor in a >$100 million arbitration relating to a light rail project against the project owner and involving multiple subcontractors.

Obtained large award from a contract appeal board following a hearing of wrongful termination claim on a highway contract.

Secured large settlement from state on contractor claims involving a transmission line in Alaska. Subsequently claims for both contractor and state were resolved in multimillion settlement against design professionals.

Large settlement secured for tunnel contractor on claims for defective design and differing site conditions encountered in construction of a light rail station 200 feet below ground.

Represented large regional mechanical contractor. Joint Venture was a subcontractor on a power plant rehabilitation project which was being performed by large international company. Claims involved numerous changes, delays and impact which were caused by others, and changed conditions. Joint Venture recovered 100 percent of claim after six-week arbitration.

Favorably resolved dispute for a major mining contractor working for U.S. company involving new shaft construction in South America. Claims involved design deficiencies, differing site conditions and changed work. Resolved dispute by escalated dispute resolution processes between principles of two companies at neutral location.

Litigation

Obtained defense verdict for waterproofing construction company on high-level condominium project in San Francisco.

Obtained substantial fraud and misrepresentation verdict against a former employee of a construction company based on embezzlement and misappropriation of funds.

Represent contractor before the ASBCA involving a construction project for the Army Corps of Engineers on a Navy base in Israel.

Represented JV prime contractor and its sureties in a >$100 million twelve-week jury trial relating to claims arising from a large bore tunneling project.

Jury awarded 100 percent of all claims for costs overruns plus business devastation damages on a road building contract in rural Alaska.

Large judgment upheld on appeal for constructor claims for multiple changes and breach of design warranty involving substantial refurbishment of an oil refinery in California.

Secured multi-million-dollar decision from ASBCA granting full recovery for significant quantity underruns on a dredging project.

Secured a jury verdict after 14 weeks of trial for a contractor and owner against the design professional based on the cumulative impact of massive changes in constructing a high-rise building in Seattle.

Federal court jury in Montana returned large verdict for a contractor on claims against surety for failure to comply with industry standards applicable to a contractor default.

Full recovery based on decision of the Engineering BCA for inherent failure of a government-designated rock quarry to produce specified armor stone for new dikes/revetments on a harbor project.

On a major pier construction for the Navy in California, represented large regional heavy civil contractor on claims involved differing site conditions, design deficiencies, and major changes during the course of the work, greatly extending time and cost. Agreed with government to utilize modified alternative dispute resolution procedures to favorably resolve dispute in mediation in Washington, DC.

Worked closely with national heavy civil contractor on dam rehabilitation contract with Corps of Engineers to resolve a claim involving differing site condition which made portions of the work impossible and greatly increased cost of work. Resolved through dispute process with the public agency on favorable terms to contractor and allowed for completion of the project through administrative process.

Represented large regional fabricator on contract involving rehabilitation of dam, including numerous hazardous waste issues. Successfully defended against claims by owner and through stepped mediation, was able to resolve all claims with insurance funds, resulting in positive outcome for client.

Successfully recovered in excess of 90 percent of claim after three-week arbitration for a large regional commercial contractor on claims related to site development and construction of large commercial shopping mall. Claims involved delays, changes and impacts to project.

Represented national testing laboratory performing testing at a nuclear facility which had been terminated for default by the operating contractor. After a five-week trial, default termination was converted to termination for convenience and testing laboratory was reinstated and received positive recovery.

Represented large regional heavy civil contractor on new pier construction at major Naval facility including differing site conditions, design defects, and superior knowledge claims, as well as claims by subcontractors. Favorably resolved dispute with government by use of alternative dispute resolution procedures. Favorably resolved dispute with subcontractor after litigation filed using federal judge as mediator.

Alternative dispute resolution procedures used to reach a very favorable settlement with government for an international heavy civil contractor working on an earth and dam rehabilitation project using methods commonly used in Europe but not previously used in United States.

Represented national heavy civil contractor on floating bridge rehabilitation contract where bridge failed during work. Worked closely with client to resolve claims with public agency and successfully mediated resolution in multi-day, multi-party mediation, including contractors, public agency, bonding company and insurance companies resulting in no loss for contractor.

Litigated a lengthy trial regarding disputes that arose out of the remodel, repair and new construction at an oil refinery.

Successfully defended project developer against site contractor claims and recovered full losses of developer from contractor, including attorney’s fees. Claims litigated through formal arbitration and successfully confirmed award in court, defeating multiple challenges.

Litigated disputes regarding contract for the provision of services in Hanford over the issue of the appropriateness of the termination of the contract, the improper solicitation of the client’s employees by the terminating party and the nature and scope of damages that could be recovered.

Represented a general contractor in a dispute with a major fabricator/steel supplier over issues that arose during the construction of a new bridge over the Kenai River in Alaska. The dispute concerned issues regarding responsibility for compliance with specified tolerances and the cause of the failure to meet specifications.

Provided representation to an electrical subcontractor on a new school project regarding disputes during the course of construction and helped prepare and present a substantial claim for delay disruption and the contract balance. The claim was pursued through a five-week jury trial after which the client was awarded a judgment for all amounts sought including costs and fees.

Contract change and defective specifications claim prosecution for heavy civil contractor in California state court against local public entity on a sewer rehabilitation project.

Differing site condition and delay claim prosecution for heavy civil contractor in California state court against local public entity on a sewer line construction project.

Subcontractor extra-contractual work claim prosecution against general contractor in California state court on a state agency reservoir construction project.

Liens, Claims and Defense

Represent general contractor on multi-million-dollar construction of a Silicon Valley apartment complex and obtain judgments and maximized settlements from other culpable construction parties based on defective workmanship and design.

Successfully obtained a substantial award in arbitration for impact and unpaid progress invoices and unapproved and unpaid change orders for a subcontractor on a prominent automotive facility project regarding payment and delay claims.

Successfully defended project developer against site contractor claims and recovered full losses of developer from contractor, including attorney’s fees. Claims litigated through formal arbitration and successfully confirmed award in court, defeating multiple challenges.

Transactions

Represented client in a bid protest involving a >$400 million wastewater treatment facility.

Draft/prepared contract documents the to be used by all parties in the construction of a large power plant, including subcontracts, supply contracts, warranty provisions and insurance requirements including negotiations with various carriers regarding the scope and nature of the builder’s risk coverage to be provided.

Assisted a large telecommunications company with the procurement and construction of a large fiber optic and microwave repeating communication network in remote portions of Alaska. Assisted in the development of the request for proposals to be sent to contractors, developed the construction contracts to be used and participated in the negotiation and final negotiations of the contracts with the various suppliers and contractors, including issues regarding the applicability of prevailing wage rules. Also, assisted in the resolution of disputes that arose during contracting and construction

Negotiated and drafted for major general contractors hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts, in various structures, including first known Integrated Project Delivery Method contract in the Pacific Northwest, for a major health care facility.

Contract Administration and Regulatory Compliance

Assisted a large telecommunications company with the procurement and construction of a large fiber optic and microwave repeating communication network in remote portions of Alaska. Assisted in the development of the request for proposals to be sent to contractors, developed the construction contracts to be used and participated in the negotiation and final negotiations of the contracts with the various suppliers and contractors, including issues regarding the applicability of prevailing wage rules. Also, assisted in the resolution of disputes that arose during contracting and construction

Risk Management

Negotiated and drafted for major general contractors hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts, in various structures, including first known Integrated Project Delivery Method contract in the Pacific Northwest, for a major health care facility.

Represented general contractor client on insurance risk and minimize liability exposure by examining loss run and insurance coverage and additional insured status for on-going projects to minimize exposure and maintain preservation of assets.

Counsel to engineering team providing construction contracting advice to institutional lenders on cutting edge renewable energy projects, which also included projects internationally.

Represented international partner in an EPC joint venture in negotiating P3 contract documents for a light rail project.

Represents international partner in joint venture involved in the world’s largest tunneling project of its kind.

Effectively applied the concept of partnering in achieving claims free performance for the constructor of a new floating bridge following the sinking of a predecessor bridge and major litigation brought by State.

Surety and Bond Actions

Successfully argued on behalf of general contractor that a supplier of temporary labor services does not have standing to assert a claim under Washington’s public bond and retention statutes.

Lead counsel for general contractor building four major transit stations underground in downtown Seattle. Handled major claims against municipality owner and more than 30 subcontractor claims. Successfully resolved all major issues with minimal litigation.

Procurement Disputes (Bidding and Bid Protests)

Supreme Court affirmed a favorable trial court decision in favor of contractor who signed their land but not the bid form.

Handled the bid protest for the manufacturer and supplier of engines and control systems on a contract for the construction of ferries for the Washington State Department of Transportation including pursuing the protest through a multi-day court hearing after which court ruled in favor of the client on its protest resulting in a rejection of the award to another supplier.

Insurance Recovery and Insurance Coverage

Insurance coverage counsel advising general contractor on encroachment and differing site conditions claim involving a mixed use project in Utah.

Insurance coverage and trial counsel for largest building materials and cement supplier on the West Coast with operations in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona as well as Western Canada in litigation involving multi phase commercial development project in Pacific Northwest.

Insurance coverage counsel for joint venture on Sound Transit’s Northlink Light Rail project.

Insurance coverage counsel for Joint Venture Partner on Alaskan Way Viaduct Project involving what was, at time of contract, the world’s largest Tunnel Boring Machine (“TBM”).

Insurance coverage counsel for specialty subcontractor providing services on the Light Rail-Central Tunneling Project in San Francisco, CA.

Insurance coverage counsel for specialized micro-tunneling boring machine (“MTBM”) contractors involving multiple specialized tunneling projects in King County.

Insurance coverage counsel advising joint venture partners on replacement of seawall project.

Represented large JV on $150MM plus design-build project for a new section of highway including several bridges, for a state DOT. Involved throughout project with major DSC claims leading to substantial change orders and ultimately an agreed termination. Pursued arbitration against design engineers thereafter for significant recovery.

Claims

Represented contractor on claims arising from construction of a sewer treatment facility in Hawaii.

Represented JV prime contractor in claims against the project owner on seawall replacement project.

Secured large settlement for contractor of a major port expansion first against the federal government and later on claims by public owner against the project’s design and construction firms.

Facilitated full recovery following lengthy trial for contractor on highway construction claim involving changed conditions claims due to failure of designated gravel courses to produce specified materials.

Represented prime contractor on concrete physical sciences structure at a state university, which settled after seven weeks of trial and continued for five more weeks in successful defense of mechanical contractor claims. Judgment for contractor was sustained by State Supreme Court.

Counsel to major mining contractor working for a private international company developing mining projects crossing borders of two South American countries. Prepared claims, as well as defend against claims relating to the project resulting in the client’s ability

Litigated disputes regarding contract for the provision of services in Hanford over the issue of the appropriateness of the termination of the contract, the improper solicitation of the client’s employees by the terminating party and the nature and scope of damages that could be recovered.

Represented a general contractor in a dispute with a major fabricator/steel supplier over issues that arose during the construction of a new bridge over the Kenai River in Alaska. The dispute concerned issues regarding responsibility for compliance with specified tolerances and the cause of the failure to meet specifications.

Represented a drilling contractor in a dispute with the California Department of Transportation on claims for encountering differing site conditions during the construction of a portion of a new highway in slide prone territory. Assisted in the preparation of the claims and pursued it through arbitration resulting in an award to the client

Provided representation to an electrical subcontractor on a new school project regarding disputes during the course of construction and helped prepare and present a substantial claim for delay disruption and the contract balance. The claim was pursued through a five-week jury trial after which the client was awarded a judgment for all amounts sought including costs and fees.

Represented heavy civil contractor in delay claim prosecution against local public entity on a road rehabilitation project.

Contract change and defective specifications claim prosecution for heavy civil contractor in California state court against local public entity on a sewer rehabilitation project.

Differing site condition and delay claim prosecution for heavy civil contractor in California state court against local public entity on a sewer line construction project.

Misreprentation and nondisclosure of soil conditions claim prosecution for heavy civil contractor in California Office of Administrative Hearings Public Works Contract Arbitration against state agency on a multi-year highway construction project.

Heavy civil contractor differing site condition and delay claim prosecution in California Office of Administrative Hearings Public Works Contract Arbitration against local public entity on a multi-year bridge replacement project.

Subcontractor extra-contractual work claim prosecution against general contractor in California state court on a state agency reservoir construction project.

Recovery on delay claim prosecution for heavy civil contractor against state agency on a multiyear railroad bridge replacement project.

Lead counsel for general contractor building four major transit stations underground in downtown Seattle. Handled major claims against municipality owner and more than 30 subcontractor claims. Successfully resolved all major issues with minimal litigation.

Represented large JV on $150MM plus design-build project for a new section of highway including several bridges, for a state DOT. Involved throughout project with major DSC claims leading to substantial change orders and ultimately an agreed termination. Pursued arbitration against design engineers thereafter for significant recovery.

News