WaferTech Cost–Overrun Litigation – Jury Trial and Multiple Appeals
Ball Janik LLP has long represented WaferTech LLC, one of Southwest Washington’s largest employers, in a series of construction disputes related to its silicon-chip manufacturing plant in Camas, Washington. Ball Janik has been lead counsel to WaferTech in all aspects of this matter, from the trial court level to the Washington State Supreme Court and through subsequent appeals.
WaferTech has prevailed many times in the fifteen-year history of a construction cost overrun dispute with Natkin/Scott, one of the subcontractors that helped construct WaferTech’s silicon chip manufacturing plant. Natkin/Scott filed a $7.65 million lawsuit against WaferTech in May 1998 and later sought a total of $11 – $13 million in cost overruns. Through pre-trial motions, WaferTech succeeded in reducing its potential exposure to $2.4 million. And, in April 2002, after several weeks of a jury trial, WaferTech obtained dismissal of Natkin/Scott’s entire case. The court awarded WaferTech nearly $1 million for its attorney fees and costs.
On appeal in March 2004, WaferTech prevailed on every claim except for Natkin/Scott’s $1.5 million lien-foreclosure claim. The Court of Appeals affirmed WaferTech’s entire attorney-fee award, which, including accrued interest, obligated Natkin/Scott’s surety to pay approximately $1.1 million.
On remand, the case sat dormant for five years. In June 2009, Natkin/Scott’s successor-in-interest, BSA, filed a Notice of Appearance to restart the case. WaferTech moved to dismiss, arguing that the trial court (presided over by a different judge than the first jury trial) had inherent authority to dismiss the sole remaining claim because of BSA’s delay since remand. The court agreed and dismissed BSA’s entire case. BSA was forced back into the Washington Court of Appeals, which reversed the trial court. In 2012, the Washington Supreme Court affirmed by a vote of 7 to 2.
On remand, WaferTech moved for summary judgment against the remaining fragment of BSA’s case. WaferTech argued that a $2.4 million settlement payment that BSA previously obtained from another defendant represented a complete setoff of BSA’s only claim against WaferTech. On August 15, 2013, the Clark County Superior Court granted WaferTech’s motion, dismissed BSA’s claim, and entered final judgment in WaferTech’s favor. In addition, the Court awarded WaferTech $430,000 in prevailing party fees and costs. BSA’s appeal is now pending before the Washington Court of Appeals.
Ball Janik tried the case and argued all three appeals on behalf of WaferTech.