King County Achieves $155 Million Jury Verdict in Brightwater Tunneling Dispute
Judy Rooks, Marketing Communications Mgr., (503) 294-9831
Stoel Rives client King County of Washington State achieved a significant trial victory last week, when a King County Superior Court jury awarded the County $155.8 million in damages against joint venture contractor Vinci Construction Grands Projets/Parsons RCI/Frontier-Kemper ("VPFK") and five surety companies following a 13 week trial. The dispute arose from work to build the County's Brightwater wastewater-treatment system near the King County/Snohomish County border. The County had demanded compensation after VPFK failed to meet contractually-specified deadlines in the boring of two tunnels designed to convey highly treated effluent from the Brightwater treatment plant to a marine outfall in Puget Sound. The County hired a replacement contractor and made other changes to the overall project to mitigate delays. A Stoel Rives trial team along with the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office represented King County in the lawsuit and trial.
"This verdict vindicates our position that Brightwater project delays and cost overruns were the responsibility of the contractor," said King County Executive Dow Constantine in a County press release announcing the verdict. "Should the damage award stand, it will mean lower sewer rates than projected in the future."
"We sincerely appreciate the hard work of the legal team from King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg's office, and our team from Stoel Rives, led by litigators David Goodnight and Karl Oles," added Christie True, Director of King County's Natural Resources and Parks Department.
Stoel Rives partners David Goodnight and Karl Oles led the Stoel Rives litigation team, along with Mary DeVuono Englund of the Prosecutor's office, with substantial assistance from Gloria Hong, Darcie Durr, Hania Younis, Javier Perez and Hunter Ferguson. Leonard Feldman provided valuable assistance with jury instructions and successfully argued before the Court of Appeals that VPFK's pre-trial motion for discretionary review of several summary judgment rulings should be denied. Karen Curtis and Ethel Nishiyama were lead paralegals in the case.
The County has stated it will seek to recover attorney's fees and costs. VPFK, which was awarded a $25 million counterclaim in the case, said it likely will appeal the trial court judgment.
The case is King County v. Vinci Construction Grands Projets/Parsons RCI/Frontier-Kemper Joint Venture(VPFK) and Travelers Casualty and Surety Company, et al., King County Cause No. 10-2-14397-1.