Monday, April 28, 2008

“Completion and Acceptance” Doctrine Nullified

In common law, there is a principle known as “completion and acceptance” doctrine. Under this principle, a design professional or contractor will not be held liable for defective work or faulty design once the project is turned over to a third party.
This was the argument that governed the decision of the Washington State Supreme Court to reverse the decision of the King County Superior Court’s decision to dismiss the wrongful death and negligence claim of Alan Davis, a Du Pont worker who was buried in several layers of pipes after inspecting a leak. He was instantly killed in the incident.
The decision of the Washington State Supreme Court to overturn the previous ruling is commendable. First, good customer service requires responsibility. Turning over haphazard work or defective products is a sign of irresponsibility and should not be tolerated.
The argument of Baugh Industrial Contractors, Inc. that they are covered by the “completion and acceptance” rule is s simple scapegoat to their obvious negligence and irresponsibility. The situation is a clear indication of general negligence.
By favoring Restatement of Torts Sec. 385 and joining 37 other states in abandoning this “inhumane” principle, the family of Alan Davis would be entitled to receive damages from the accident.
Tolerating negligence is not good for the legal system. It will only teach our contractors and product manufacturers to be irresponsible and use the “completion and acceptance” doctrine to get away from any liability. Davis was wrongfully killed while performing his duty so it is just right to give his heir the compensation that they truly deserve.