Spearin Doctrine: Alive, Well and Thriving on its 100th Birthday

Legal books on bookcase

The Vinci case arises out of the $210 million Brightwater Project contract to bore tunnels.

January 15, 2019
John P. Ahlers - Ahlers Cressman & Sleight PLLC

On December 9, 2018, United States v. Spearin, [1] a landmark construction law case, will be 100 years old. The Spearin “doctrine”[2] provides that the owner impliedly warrants the information, plans and specifications which an owner provides to a general contractor. The contractor will not be liable to the owner for loss or damage which results from insufficiencies or defects in such information, plans and specifications.

Some construction lawyers questioned whether the Spearin doctrine was still viable in Washington after the Washington Court of Appeals decided the recent case of King County v. Vinci Constr. Grand Projets.[3] Some concerned contractor industry groups even considered a “statutory fix” in the wake of the Court of Appeals Vinci decision. It is our opinion that the facts in the Vinci case are distinguishable and the Spearin doctrine is alive and thriving in Washington.

Mr. Ahlers may be contacted at john.ahlers@acslawyers.com



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