Court of Appeals Holds That “Call Before You Dig” Creates Strict Liability

As we’ve reported before, Washington strengthened its “Call Before You Dig” laws about five years ago to create a much stricter regime, with significant penalties for property owners, utility providers, and contractors that fail to comply with its requirements. And now we’ve got one of the first published decisions under the new regime, which holds that the new Call Before You Dig law creates strict liability for violations.  Continue Reading

NWP: Insurance Coverage Can Help Businesses Impacted by Wildfires or Hurricanes

This post originally appeared on The Northwest Policyholder, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn’s insurance recovery blog.

Many Northwest businesses are being impacted by the wildfires close to home, and also by the hurricanes that have or will hit Texas, Florida and other Gulf states. Can commercial insurance help to mitigate losses from these natural disasters? In many cases, yes.

“All risk” property-insurance (fire) policies may provide coverage for property damage from wildfires, including damage to facilities, equipment, and sometimes stock and inventory. Wildfires and other natural disasters may also disrupt operations and force temporary closures. In that case, business income (also called “business interruption”) insurance, including civil authority coveragemay cover lost profits and related costs. And, if your company was not directly impacted, but was unable to procure parts or make shipments because of wildfire or hurricane, contingent business interruption coverage may apply.

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Guest Feature: Portland Seeks Public Comment on Affordable Housing Bond Framework

Thanks to our friends at HFO Investment Real Estate for this important notice regarding new developments from the Portland Housing Bureau regarding the Affordable Housing Bond.

The Portland Housing Bureau released a report written by the Affordable Housing Bond Stakeholder Advisory Group, which lays out a plan for how the money should be spent. The affordable housing bond was passed last November, and the city has pledged to use the $258 million dollars it expects to be generated by the levy to build 1,300 units available to households making less than 60% AMI. The Draft Policy Framework includes targeted goals that identify communities the city wants to prioritize for potential new affordable units. The PHB is conducting mail and online surveys, and will be holding hearings on the policy between September 6th and 11th. The final vote is scheduled for October 11th. Read more.

HFO Investment Real Estate specializes in multifamily brokerage sales and advisory services for investors and apartment owners throughout the Pacific Northwest. Visit their website at www.hfore.com

Panel Discussion: The Opioid Epidemic & The Building Industry

We would like to inform those of you in the Oregon/SWWA building industry about a special panel discussion being hosted by the Daily Journal of Commerce on Thursday, August 24, 2017. The presentation is titled “The Opioid Epidemic & The Building Industry,” and the panel will include Miller Nash Graham & Dunn partner P.K. Runkles-Pearson, Cal Beyer of Lakeside Industries, Dr. Rachel Solotaroff of Central City Concern, and Mark Altenhofen of Oregon Pain Advisors. The panel will discuss the opioid epidemic, how it’s affecting the building industry, and what business leaders can do to mitigate it. For more information, visit the DJC website.

Washington Employees Can Waive Their Meal Breaks

This article was originally published as one of Miller Nash Graham & Dunn’s News You Can Use e-flashes, our occasional e-mail newsletter focusing on the latest developments in employment law and labor relations. From The Ground Up editor George Kaai felt that this information would be useful to those in the development industry. If you are interested in receiving periodic employment law updates, please notify us at clientservices@millernash.com.

Yes, nonexempt employees in Washington may voluntarily waive their right to take a 30-minute unpaid meal break.

It has been an open question whether employees could waive their 30-minute meal break mandated by state regulations. The Washington Department of Labor & Industries (“DLI”) previously provided a guidance stating that meal breaks could be waived, but that interpretation appeared to conflict with the mandatory language of the regulation. Until recently, we did not have court approval of DLI’s guidance.

That uncertain situation changed on June 29, 2017, when the Washington Supreme Court issued its decision in Brady v. AutoZone, articulating two key holdings. First, the Court held that employers are not strictly liable for damages if an employee does not actually take a meal break that complies with all the requirements of the regulation. Second, the Court held that if an employee submitted evidence that he did not take a regulation-compliant meal break, the burden shifted to the employer to prove that either the employee had taken the break or had voluntarily waived his right to take the break as required by the regulation.

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Succession Planning Strategies for West Coast Apartment Owners [VIDEO]

Miller Nash Graham & Dunn partner June Wiyrick Flores gave a special presentation for HFO Investment Real Estate, discussing estate planning and taxes, highlighting real estate and succession planning for the group. Watch the video of the full presentation below.

 

Ninth Circuit Opens the Door, IRS Slams It Shut (an update to IRS: “Shea It Ain’t So!” The Ninth Circuit Opens the Door for Real Estate Developer to Defer Income Tax)

internal-revenue-serviceOn April 7, 2017, the IRS issued Action on Decision 2017-03, confirming that the IRS would not follow the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Shea Homes, Inc. v. Commissioner, 834 F.3d 1061 (9th Cir. 2016). The Ninth Circuit’s decision in Shea Homes was widely perceived as a significant, albeit narrow, win for taxpayers engaged in real estate development. More on the ruling in Shea Homes can be found from a recent blog post here. Continue Reading

Washington Subcontractors Can Seek Bond for Early Release of Retainage

Governor Jay Inslee recently signed into law Washington House Bill 1538 which authorizes subcontractors on public projects to request the prime contractor submit to the public owner a bond to release its portion of the retainage before the public project is complete. The bond needs to be in a form acceptable to the public body and it can only be rejected for “good cause.” This retainage bond should serve to relieve the cash flow burden on subcontractors that have finished their scope of work but cannot get paid in full until the project is completed. The law goes into effect July 23, 2017.

Hidden Hazards: Oregon Proposes New Burdens on Charities Seeking Property Tax Exemption

5120304358_72af165e30Oregon has a long tradition of narrowing the scope of the property tax exemption afforded to charities operating in the state. This tradition is alive and well in 2017, as the Oregon legislature contemplates imposing an annual reporting requirement on all charities holding or seeking a property tax exemption on their real or personal property. Under the proposed legislation (Senate Bill 181), charities that fail to make the required annual report would lose their tax-exempt status and would be required to repay all property taxes retroactively.  Continue Reading

Important Policyholder Win in the Oregon Court of Appeals: Contractors—This Is Good News

pexels-photo-7931On May 10, 2017, the Oregon Court of Appeals made several significant holdings in the appeal of an insurance policy garnishment proceeding. The court of appeals held that a liability insurer’s exclusion for multi-unit new residential construction was ambiguous and, when construed against the insurer, did not apply to defeat coverage for construction-defect claims in a mixed-use development. The result was especially gratifying because the insurer had refused to defend its subcontractor insured, against which a default judgment had been entered. The court of appeals also held that attorney fees awarded to an indemnitee for defending a construction-defect claim were covered by a liability insurance policy, either as damages or as costs taxed against the insured. Finally, the court of appeals held that a party is entitled to a jury trial on factual issues in an insurance policy garnishment proceeding and that an Oregon statute allowing a bench trial is unconstitutional. Continue Reading

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