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Kim v. Western-Blossom Hill Investors

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

August 12, 2019

DANNY KIM, an individual, and BIG CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION, a Washington Corporation, Plaintiffs,
v.
WESTERN BLOSSOM HILL INVESTORS, a California Limited Partnership, WESTERN-LOS GATOS I INVESTORS, a California Limited Partnership, ESSEX REDMOND HILL NE, L.P., a California Limited Partnership and ESSEX MANAGEMENT CORPORATION, a California Corporation, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Western Blossom Hill Investors, Western-Los Gatos 1 Investors, Essex Redmond Hill NE, L.P., and Essex Management Corporation's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Dkt. #16. Defendants move to dismiss all claims brought by Plaintiff Danny Kim individually, claims related to the “Vesta Contract, ” claims premised on an oral promise to satisfy tax debt, claims under “quasi contract, ” and claims against Essex Management Corporation. Plaintiffs Danny Kim and Big Construction Corporation oppose. Dkt. #21. For the reasons stated below, this Motion is GRANTED.

         II. BACKGROUND

         As this is a Motion for only partial summary judgment, the Court will detail only those limited facts relevant to the claims at issue.

         Plaintiffs are a construction company and its president Danny Kim. Defendants are owners of various multi-family housing complexes in Western Washington.

         A. Elliot Contracts

         On February 20, 2013, Defendants Western-Blossom Hill Investors and Western-Los Gatos I Investors entered into a construction agreement with Plaintiff Big Construction to renovate the kitchen and bath areas of 10 residential units in a multi-family housing complex known as “The Elliot at Mukilteo, ” located in the city of Mukilteo, Washington. See Dkt #18-1. This was a unit-priced contract (priced by the completion of each residential unit) with a maximum value of $119, 309.87. Id.

         On April 11, 2013, these same Defendants entered into a second construction agreement with Big Construction to perform kitchen and bath renovations in another 60 units at The Elliot. See Dkt #18-2. This contract was also a unit-priced agreement with a maximum value of $721, 021.80. Id. For both of these contracts, Plaintiff Danny Kim signed on behalf of Big Construction. Mr. Kim executed a “Delegation of Signatory Authority” document stating that he is the president of Big Construction and therefore authorized to sign on behalf of that company. Dkt. #18-1 at 26.

         B. Vesta Contract

         On March 13, 2013, a different Defendant, Essex Redmond Hill NE, L.P., entered into a construction agreement with Big Construction to perform full unit renovations in a multi-family housing complex known as “The Vesta, ” located in the city of Redmond, Washington. See Dkt #18-3. The scope of work included supplying and installing new cabinets, countertops, doors, and accessories, and performing some millwork, minor drywall repairs, painting, and aesthetic upgrades. See id. This agreement was a unit-priced arrangement for up to 105 units with a maximum contract value of $1, 525, 104.15. Id. Plaintiff Danny Kim signed on behalf of Big Construction.

         On or around June 9, 2014, Big Construction executed an Unconditional Final Lien Waiver and Release for the entire Vesta project, acknowledging that it had “been paid in full for all labor, services, materials and equipment that it supplied for the Project and Property.” Dkt. #18-4. Big Construction “unconditionally waive[d] and release[d] any and all liens, claims of lien, rights to lien, stop notices, rights to submit stop notices, suits, demands, claims, protests, damages, losses and expenses of any nature whatsoever (whether under statute, in equity or otherwise and whether received through assignment or otherwise)” against the owner of the property and all of its affiliates. Id. Big Construction separately acknowledged and notarized the release.

         Essex Management Corporation is listed as the owner's agent for construction management and administration purposes in both the Elliot Contracts and the Vesta Contract, but Essex Management Corporation is not a signing party to these agreements.

         C. Termination for Cause

         The Defendants terminated the Vesta Contract and other contracts with Big Construction on May 15, 2014. See Dkt. #18-5. The termination letter detailed certain units to be completed before the relationship was terminated. The letter cites several reasons for terminating the contracts, none of which are at issue at this time.

         D. Plaintiff Files Suit

         Plaintiffs Danny Kim and Big Construction filed this action in King County Superior Court on November 13, 2018. See Dkt. ...


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