Abacus Fine Carpentry, LLC v. Vivian H. Wilson and Russel D. Wilson
This opinion out of Division One of the Washington Court of Appeals arose out of a dispute between Abacus Fine Carpentry, LLC (“Abacus”) and Vivian and Russel Wilson. (Not that Russell Wilson.) In April 2016, the Wilsons hired Abacus to install cabinet doors, drawers, and appliance panels to pre-existing custom-built cabinets at their home. Abacus' bond was cancelled effective June 17, 2010.
Abacus filed suit against the Wilsons claiming they owed payment for the cabinet project. The Wilsons filed a motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of all claims. The Wilsons claimed that under RCW 18.27, Abacus' failure to maintain a contractor's registration bond barred it from collection on the contract. The trial court denied the Wilsons' motion. The matter was heard on appeal under discretionary review.
Under Washington law, if a contractor's bond lapses or is cancelled, the contractor's registration is suspended via RCW 18.27.040(1). Abacus argued that when a contractor's bond is cancelled, action is still required from the Department of Labor & Industries before the suspension becomes effective. The Wilsons, on the other hand, argued that a contractor automatically loses their registration through operation of law, meaning no action by the Department of Labor & Industries is required.
The Court held that the plain language of RCW 18.27.040(1) established that no action was required by the Department of Labor & Industries to suspend Abacus' registration. Thus, by virtue of the automatic suspension of its registration, Abacus was barred from pursuing a claim for work in which it engaged in while being unregistered.