The Washington State Convention Center and a Skanska-Hunt joint venture are heading to trial later this year after a state court judge in Seattle issued a split ruling on the contractor’s request for a preliminary injunction seeking to retain its role on a $1.45-billion convention center addition. The Washington State Convention Center Facilities District had  terminated Skanska-Hunt in March and the joint venture filed a lawsuit to stop the convention center from hiring a replacement contractor

Skanska-Hunt stated that it had executed numerous subcontract agreements for the work but construction work had not started.

Judge Beth M. Andrus’ ruling denied Skanska-Hunt’s attempt to force the convention center to reinstate the pre-construction agreement but stopped the convention center  from hiring a new contractor under the GC/CM alternative project delivery method.

According to the ruling, Andrus says the convention center was within its right to terminate the pre-construction agreement for “convenience” based on the owner’s testimony, but that since many facts are in dispute by Skanska-Hunt, a trial is necessary.

Andrus, however, ruled the convention center could not enter into contract with another firm based upon the GC/CM relationship as outlined by the state legislature. “By electing, under [Regional Code of Washington] 39.10.360(6) to enter into a contract with Skanska-Hunt, Skanska-Hunt’s right to be the firm with whom [the convention center] negotiated" became a vested right, Andrus ruled. Andrus ordered Skanska-Hunt to furnish a $1 million injunction bond and scheduled the trial to start Aug. 1.

The joint venture consists of Hunt Construction Group and Skanska USA Building. In its complaint, Skanska-Hunt claims that its proposed fee, 2.95% of the construction budget, was 30% lower than that of its next closest competitor, a joint venture of Clark Construction Group and Lease Crutcher Lewis. A third joint venture also made the short list, Mortenson Construction and PCL Construction Services.