Ahlers Cressman & Sleight PLLC Recognized Among The Top 50 Construction Law Firms by Construction Executive
Scott Sleight is a partner with Ahlers Cressman & Sleight PLLC and has practiced construction law for over twenty-five years. His practice includes representation of contractors and owners at the front end, during and at project conclusion. This includes providing advice for development and construction of office towers, data centers, heavy civil construction, health care facilities, production facilities, schools and mixed-use commercial projects in the United States and Canada.
Mr. Sleight is experienced in preparing and negotiating construction contracts involving traditional delivery methods, as well as alternative delivery methods including GC/CM and design build delivery and utilizing integrated contracts for lean construction. Inevitably, disputes arise and he assists owners and contractors with prosecution and defense of claims in court or arbitration. His experience extends to insurance coverage matters, including obtaining coverage for policyholders and monitoring insurance-appointed defense counsel.
Mr. Sleight has been extensively involved with the WSBA Construction Law Section, serving as Chair in 2016 and Trustee from 2006-2013. From 2011 through 2017, Mr. Sleight has been named a Super Lawyer by Washington Law & Politics magazine. He holds a B.A., cum laude, from the University of Washington where he earned the distinction of Phi Beta Kappa and earned his J.D., cum laude, from Seattle University.
- Lead counsel for national general contractor client in complex litigation on the Nexus high-rise condominium project. ACS brought claims against the Owner for foreclosure of its construction lien, breach of contract, breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing, and quantum meruit. Contractor’s claims were in excess of $20M, including compensation for 187 unresolved change issues, time extensions and compensation for excusable delays, recovery of additional and expanded general conditions and general requirements, and pass through of discrete subcontractor claims. Owner withheld compensation of contract balance and brought numerous counterclaims seeking recovery of liquidated damages in excess of $4M, as well as other contract and tort-based damages. We successfully dismissed Owner’s tort claims and limited Owner’s recovery through summary judgment motions prior to trial. Notably, we used key contract provisions to obtain a ruling prior to trial that Owner could not assess liquidated damages for periods of insured delay. The case was tried virtually for 7 weeks/28 trial days before a 12-person King County Superior Court jury, which awarded our general contractor client 97% of its claimed damages and rejected 93% of the Owner’s damages. The jury found that the Owner breached the contract and the duty of good faith and fair dealing and that quantum meruit was proven. Post-trial, we obtained judgment on the jury verdict , foreclosed the lien, and obtained an award for our client’s attorneys’ fees, costs and expert expenses resulting in a final judgment against the Owner in excess of $30M. Due to our timely recording a lien in advance of any unit closings and resulting bonding of the lien for all sold units, the judgment was promptly collected from the lien release bond surety and Owner pending the Owner’s appeal of the judgment. ACS will defend the massive jury award through appeal. The following links provide additional information on this tremendous result for our client.
- Lead counsel for General Contractor client in $50 million AAA Arbitration against Project Owner involving hospital expansion in Texas. During construction, an explosion occurred that destroyed a portion of the completed work. Insurance policies were in place that covered the losses and rebuild efforts, yet the Owner refused to pay the Contractor for the work performed and sought to hold the Contractor responsible for the explosion and Project completion costs incurred when the Owner hired a new contractor to finish the Project. After a two-week hearing conducted via Zoom, the Arbitration Panel awarded the Contractor the entirety off its requested contract balance, change orders and attorneys’ fees and rejected all of the Owner’s claims that were in excess of $40M.
- Lead counsel for general contractor pursuing $5.3M in disputed billings and change orders and defense of $16.7M defect and delay/liquidated damages claims asserted by Owner. Case was tried for 7 weeks before a 12-person King County Superior Court jury, which awarded the general contractor $5.1M on its claims, rejected the Owner’s liquidated damages claims in full, and rejected 88% of the Owner’s defect claims. The general contractor was awarded in excess of $5.8M in attorneys’ fees, expert fees and costs, resulting in a net judgment in the General Contractor’s favor of $9.6M. ACS successfully represented the general contractor through appeal, with the jury verdict affirmed by the Supreme Court of WA
- Represented contractor in successful bid protest action with the Government Accountability Office challenging selection for a $5 billion fixed-price multiple award task order contract (MATOC) for United States / Mexico border wall work; in response, Government admitted “flaws” in its evaluation, engaged in corrective action, and reinstated client into the $5 billion MATOC.
- Represented contractor in $800 million bid protest action for United States / Mexico border wall work in El Paso, Texas region; case included parallel challenge and oral argument in the United States Court of Federal Claims implicating the national emergency declaration on the Southern Border (Proclamation 9844) and the Competition in Contracting Act’s (“CICA”) automatic 100-day stay of contract performance.
- Represented contractor in successful $200 million bid protest action for United States / Mexico border wall work in Yuma, Arizona; in response, Government agreed to take corrective action to remedy an admitted “flaw in the acquisition process.”
- Represented a HUBZone small business entity in bid protest appeal, including oral argument on cross motions for judgment on the administrative record, to the Court of Federal Claims for a $40 million project to replace an irrigation diversion weir and build a fish bypass channel in Montana’s Lower Yellowstone River.
- Represented GC/CM challenging termination for convenience during preconstruction on $1.4B GC/CM public works project. Argued and obtained injunctive relief precluding owner from procuring replacement GC/CM, resulting in significant settlement.
- Represented heavy civil highway contractor in multi-week Arbitration against North Dakota Department of Transportation resulting in significant settlement post-hearing.
- Represented national contractor in defending multi-million-dollar repair cost claim by eBay alleging the power supply system was defectively installed, resulting in favorable settlement paid by other parties.
- Extensive experience representing general contractors and owners in complicated disputes involving contract disputes, defect claims and numerous subcontractors implicated by defect claims.
- Since 2013, has negotiated terms and contracts on behalf of developers of many office towers, two significant hotels, including what will be the largest hotel in Seattle, and a mixed-use commercial development with Whole Foods as anchor tenant.
- Extensive contract negotiation involving commonly-used form agreements, including all American Institute of Architects (AIA), ConsensusDOCS Forms and Integrated Project Delivery. This includes contracts for more than 100 large commercial projects over past three years.
- Obtained attorneys’ fees judgment and dismissal of significant liens filed by development manager and equity investor against downtown Seattle condominium project while facilitating unit closings through lien release bonds.
- Obtained summary judgment dismissal of subcontractor bond and retainage claims in excess of $4,000,000 on the Stadium High School Renovation Project.
- Obtained affirmative arbitration award and fees for multi-family developer in arbitration against site work contractor pursuing claim in excess of $500,000.
- Negotiation of contracts and claims management for large mixed-use retail/office/residential projects in Seattle and Bellevue on behalf of general contractors, including the Bravern, Advanta, and 9th & Stewart.
- Negotiation of contracts and claims management for significant healthcare expansion projects, including Virginia Mason, Good Samaritan, and MultiCare.
- Negotiation of design-build and traditional contracts on behalf of construction managers for data center projects owned by RBC, TELUS, Verizon, IBM, eBay, Intel, and Goldman Sachs.
- Negotiation of GC/CM contract for the development of City of Puyallup City Hall.
- Negotiation of Integrated Agreement joining owner, architect, and contractor under single agreement utilizing lean method of delivery for significant hospital project in California.
- Negotiation of multiple joint venture structures to qualify for Speculative Builder treatment to facilitate sales tax and B&O tax exemptions on projects in Seattle and Bellevue.
- Prosecution and defense of claims for additional compensation on public and private projects, including Spokane Street Viaduct widening, MultiCare Emergency Department Expansion, Stadium High School Renovation, C710 and C800 Sound Transit Projects, Marion Oliver McCaw Symphony Hall, IDX Tower, University of Washington Tacoma Campus, multi-phase condominium projects, Federal Correctional Institute in Fort Worth, Texas, governmental housing project in Alaska, Washington Mass Transit Authority Highway Project, and the Golden Gate Bridge Retrofit Project.
Recent Reported Cases
- Lake Hills Investments LLC v. Rushforth Construction Co., Inc., 198 Wn.2d 209, 494 P.3d 410 (2021) (clarifying contractor’s burden when asserting a Spearin defense and limiting contractor’s liability for defects when the contractor follows the plans and specifications. Decision affirmed jury’s significant verdict in favor of ACS’ contractor client)
- Dania, Inc., et al. v. Skanska USA Building Inc., 185 Wash. App. 359, 340 P.3d 984 (2014) (clarifying Statute of Repose for claims on construction projects in Washington)
- American Best Food Incorporated, et al. v. Alea London, Ltd. – 168 Wn.2d 398 (2010) (establishing carrier’s duty to defend policyholder and bad faith as matter of law: If, in an equivocal case, the insurer denies the duty to defend, failing to give the benefit of the doubt to its insured, the insurer may be held liable for bad faith even though its denial was based upon a reasonably justified interpretation of the policy)
- American Best Food, Inc. v. Alea London, Ltd., 138 Wn. App. 674, 158 P.3d 119 (Div. 1, 2007), 163 Wn.2d 1039 (2008)
- Pacific Industries, Inc. v. Singh, 120 Wn. App. 1, 86 P.3d 778 (2003) (establishing lien not frivolous)
- 4105 1st Ave. South Investments, LLC v. Green Depot WA Pacific Coast, LLC, 179 Wn. App. 777, 321 P.3d 254 (Div. 1, 2014) (establishing client landlord was not liable for attorneys’ fees in commercial unlawful detainer matter)
- 4105 1st Avenue South Investments, LLC v. Green Depot WA Pacific Coast, LLC, Appeals Court No. 70051-1-I (Wash. Ct. App. 2014) (Unpublished Decision Issued November 24, 2014) (awarded attorneys’ fees for frivolous appeal)
- Section Chair, Construction Law Section of Washington State Bar Association (2014-2015)
- Trustee, Construction Law Section of Washington State Bar Association (2006-2013)
- Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), September 15, 2016, sponsored by Washington State Bar Association (23rd Annual Washington Construction Law Section)
- Speaker, Strafford Publications, Subcontractor Default Insurance (October 2014)
- Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), September 18, 2014, sponsored by The Seminar Group (21st Annual Washington Construction Law)
- Moderator, Seattle State of the Market Presentation by Bisnow Media Corp. (November 8, 2011)
- Speaker, Strafford Publications, Inc., Integrated Project Delivery Agreements in Construction Contracting, Live National Webinar (July 13, 2011)
- Speaker, Lean Construction Institute, Introduction to Lean Construction, Vancouver, B.C. (January 22-23, 2009)
- Instructor, AGC Supervisory Training Program, Contract Documents and Construction Law
- Co-Chair, Contract Solutions Group, Improving Construction Change Order Management Workshop
- Speaker, Associated General Contractors of Washington, Fundamentals of Construction Law
- Speaker, Lorman CLE, AIA Contracts in Washington (2005-2008, 2010, 2013, and 2014) (including 2007 Design-Build Forms and A201 General Conditions)
- Speaker, Lorman CLE, Change Orders in Washington
- Speaker, Lorman CLE, Construction Delay Claims in Washington
- Speaker, National Business Institute CLE, Advanced Construction Law in Washington
- Speaker, Various Topics for Associated Builders & Contractors
- Externship, The Honorable Barbara Jacobs Rothstein, Federal District Court (1996)
- Editor, Seattle University Law Review
- Member, Design-Build Institute of America
Presentations & Seminars
- Speaker, Changes to AIA A102 and A103, The Seminar Group – “2017 Changes to AIA Contract Documents” (2017)
- Speaker, Integrated Project Delivery, The Seminar Group– “24th Annual Washington Construction Law Seminar” (2017)
- Speaker, Types of Challenges: Causes and Solutions, The Seminar Group CLE –“Construction Project Challenges in Seattle” (2016)
- Speaker, Integrated Delivery, The Seminar Group CLE -“23rd Annual Washington Construction Law Seminar” (2016)
- Speaker, Types of Challenges: Causes and Solutions, The Seminar Group CLE – “Construction Project Challenges in Seattle” (2016)
- Speaker, for Construction Disputes: Construction Law Section Annual Seminar, WSBA (2015)
- Speaker, Principles of Persuasion, WSBA CLE (2014)
- Speaker, Integrated Project Delivery, WSBA Construction Midyear Seminar (2014)
- Speaker, Construction Disputes: Picking the Right People and Forum – WSBA CLE (2014)
- Speaker, Construction Subcontractor Default Insurance: A Viable Alternative to Performance Bonds, Strafford Publications CLE (2014)
- Speaker, Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), The Seminar Group CLE – “21st Annual Washington Construction Law” (2014)
- Speaker, Design Build Contract Template, WSBA CLE – “Annual Construction Law Midyear Meeting and Seminar” (2013)
- Speaker, “Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)”, The Seminar Group – “20th Annual Washington Construction Law Seminar” (2013)
- Speaker, Insurance Coverage for Contractors, Washington State Department of Labor & Industries Contractor Training (2013-2015)
- Speaker, AIA Integrated Agreement Forms, Lorman CLE – “AIA Contracts in Washington” (2013)
- Speaker, Construction 101, Yakima County Volunteer Attorney Services (2013)
- Speaker, Analysis of A201 General Conditions, Lorman CLE – “AIA Contracts in Washington” (2012)
- Speaker, IPD Agreements in Construction Contracting, Strafford Presentation (2011)
- Speaker, Analysis of Owner Architect Contract, Lorman CLE – “AIA Contracts in Washington” (2008, 2010, 2012 and 2013)
- Speaker, Analysis of AIA’s New Design-Build Documents Released in March 2005, Lorman CLE – “AIA Contracts in Washington” (2006)
- Speaker, Indemnity, WSBA CLE – “Construction Law Midyear Contract Clauses: Avoiding Problems and Solving Them” (2006)
- Speaker, Design Professionals, Lorman CLE – “Construction Delay Claims in Washington” (2005-2006)
- Speaker, Legal Issues Involving Change Orders and Change Order and Claims Management, Lorman CLE, “Change Orders in Washington” (2005-2006)
- Speaker, Analysis of AIA’s Design-Build Documents, Lorman CLE – “AIA Contracts in Washington” (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012)
- Speaker, Design Professionals, Lorman CLE – “Construction Delay Claims in Washington”, 2004, 2005, 2006
- Frequent contributor to AHLERS CRESSMAN & SLEIGHT PLLC’s blog
- 1997 – J.D., Seattle University School of Law, cum laude
- 1994 – B.A., International Studies, Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, Earning the Distinction of Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude
- Marathon PR – 3:02:54
- Half-Marathon PR – 1:25:53
- 2019 Six Star Finisher of Abbot World Marathon Majors (Boston, London, Tokyo, Berlin, NYC, Chicago)