Our client GHD is one of the world’s leading design professionals. GHD, the insured, acquired Winzler & Kelly, an engineering and environmental services firm. Winzler Kelly provided design services for a general contractor (Watts) that performed a design-build contract for the Bremerton Consolidation Project at U.S. Naval Base Kitsap. Watts sued Winzler for over $2.5M for cost overruns allegedly caused by errors and omissions in the design documents. Our construction team won a partial summary judgment dismissal on two key issues. The court enforced a contractual limitation of liability provision and ruled that the statute of limitations barred many claims. The dismissal of those claims led to the resolution of the case in mediation. This lawsuit presented a critical issue for design professionals: what limitations period applies to claims, when the professionals often have detailed written contracts but the claims stem from standard of care duties under tort law. We successfully argued the breach of contract claims for the alleged errors in the drawings were subject to the three-year limitations period instead of the much longer six-year limitations for contract claims. This issue involved the interplay between independent duties owed outside the contract and therefore not expressly part of the written contract. The case was venued in Bremerton, Washington and settled at mediation after we prevailed on partial summary judgment.
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