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Practice Area Chair:
William G. Fig
503.227.1111 Main
503.243.1656 Direct

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Employment Blog
The Nuts & Bolts of Oregon Construction Liens
Presented by Bill Fig, Partner


If there is any business where it is vital to be on solid legal ground, it's construction.  Our Construction Law Group has a deep foundation in construction matters, including contracts, financing, litigation, arbitration, collections, and resolution of claims.

While our client base includes owners, developers, general contractors, and lenders, the majority of our time is spent representing subcontractors and suppliers.  We advise on projects that range from subdivisions, retail stores, and office buildings to large health care facilities and other major commercial ventures.

Serving clients throughout the Pacific Northwest and other states, we handle cases in state and federal courts, as well as other forums such as the Court of Federal Claims.  If needed, our clients can tap into our expertise in banking, leases, mergers and acquisitions, environmental issues, employment, real estate, and tax law.  Whatever role our clients play in construction, our Construction Group helps them build a strong, stable business. 

Our areas of expertise include:

  • Bond claims
  • Change order disputes
  • Complex impact, delay, disruption, and acceleration claims
  • Construction defect claims
  • Construction litigation
  • Contract drafting, negotiation, administration, and enforcement
  • Contract litigation
  • Financial crisis counseling and work-out plans
  • Insurance and indemnity
  • Lien claims
  • Project procurement and bid protests

Representative Work
Public Project Bond Claim
We represented a drywall subcontractor who filed a bond claim and a breach of contract claim against a local general contractor on a $1.2 million school remodel project. Our client, a significant subcontractor on the project, claimed that it was improperly terminated after it demanded payment for the contract and extra work it had performed. The general contractor denied the claim and aggressively defended the action, including filing a motion with the Oregon Supreme Court. We handled the matter from the first claim notice to the surety through a five-day court trial. Our client prevailed on both of its claims at trial.
Lien and Contract Claim
We successfully defended an owner/developer's allegations against an electrical subcontractor on a $3 million project and recovered all sums owed our client. The owner/developer alleged our client failed to follow the project's specifications and plans. Our client filed a lien claim equal to the payments and retainage withheld by the owner. This case was unique because the main controversy was submitted to binding arbitration. After obtaining a favorable arbitration decision, we enforced our client's construction lien rights in court and recovered the entire claim amount including attorneys fees, interest, and arbitration costs.
Construction Lien Foreclosure
Sussman Shank LLP successfully represented a commercial contractor in a breach of contract and construction lien foreclosure matter.  The matter involved a commercial property owner that claimed its agent did not have the authority to bind the owner to a contract.  As a result of our representation, the client obtained an arbitration award for the full amount of the claim.
Delay and Impact Damages Claim
We represented the owner of a hospital and medical clinic in a delay, impact, and change order dispute against a general contractor and two subcontractors. Our client faced a claim in excess of $1 million which we successfully resolved in less than six months without resorting to litigation, formal mediation or arbitration. Our claims analysis and presentation of evidence convinced the general contractor and subcontractors to accept less than 30 percent of their original claim amount.
Lien and Bond Claims
We regularly represent regional suppliers of electrical, plumbing, HVAC, roofing and siding materials, as well as suppliers of commercial, industrial, and residential paints and related supplies. During these long-term relationships, we have filed lawsuits, lien claims, and private and public bond claims throughout the Northwest and Southwest. We represent these suppliers in state courts, federal courts and administrative proceedings. In addition, we have successfully defended and resolved multi-million dollar breach of warranty, products liability, negligence, and construction defect and delay claims.
Contract, Change Order, and Delay Claim
We represented several large specialty subcontractors working on silicon wafer plants. These cases involved more than 20 parties and complicated claims including scope of work disputes, defense and prosecution of impact claims, and contract integration issues. We successfully defeated efforts to invalidate lien claims and force resolution through unfavorable arbitration provisions. By carefully planning a litigation strategy, we coordinated the activities of the subcontractors as a group, saving our clients thousands of dollars in fees and strengthening our clients' position in mediation. As a result, our clients recovered millions of dollars at a fraction of the cost normally associated with complex and multiple-party construction disputes.
Construction Defect - Siding
We represented a siding contractor in a multimillion dollar claim by the owners and homeowners' association of a 44-unit subdivision, against 17 defendants and third-party defendants, for a wide variety of alleged construction defects. The claim involved complex issues of relevant construction standards and practices, subcontractor responsibilities and interrelations, contract interpretation, the effect of a class action settlement against the manufacturer of the siding involved, and the measure of damages. We achieved a favorable resolution in mediation for a fraction of the original claim amount and obtained a dismissal of all claims against our client.
Contract Enforcement
We represented a general contractor in an arbitration in which our client sought more than $2 million for unpaid work on a commercial project, but the owner was claiming in excess of $2 million in delay damages. This dispute was unique in that all major witnesses lived in a number of different states, and the parties did not have the typical subpoena powers that stem from a traditional lawsuit. Despite the limitation, we were able to locate and obtain statements from the witnesses which greatly assisted our client in favorably settling the lawsuit.
Lien Claim Defense
We represented a homeowner in defending a construction lien claim by a restoration company. After a four day trial, we successfully defended the lien claim by showing that the contractor had not met all requirements to claim a lien. The lien was therefore declared invalid, and our client was awarded all attorney fees and costs incurred.
Lien Claim
We represented a local supplier with a construction lien claim against the largest private construction project in Oregon in 2012.  Our client's customer, a large subcontractor on the project, walked off the project due to a change order and other disputes with the general contractor.  The subcontractor owed our client a significant sum for materials which related in part to the disputed change order and extra work claims.  We prepared and recorded a lien against the project and then successfully negotiated payment with counsel for the general contractor.  Our client received full payment without filing a lawsuit and avoided the fallout and delay of the ensuing lawsuit between the general contractor and our client's customer.
Consumer Protection Act Defense
We represented a Washington homebuilder in a lawsuit filed against a real estate investor for breach of promissory note and the judicial foreclosure of the trust deed that secured the note.  The defendant investor attempted to avoid liability for his obligations by asserting Washington Consumer Protection Act counterclaims against our client.  At the trial court, we prevailed on a motion for summary judgment granting the client's claims against the investor and defeating the investor's Consumer Protection Act counterclaims.  The investor appealed the trial court's rulings. On the appeal, we decisively defeated the investor's complex Consumer Protection Act arguments, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's rulings.