Joseph J. Straus
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Joe Straus focuses his practice in the areas of construction and real estate development, and is recognized as one of the top construction lawyers in the Greater Seattle/Puget Sound region. He brings more than 30 years of experience in representing all sides to construction disputes, including public and private owners, general contractors, top tier subcontractors, material suppliers and sureties.
His construction claims experience encompasses a broad and diverse range of projects, such as ship loading facilities and interstate highway bridges to landfills, prisons and fire stations. Over the years, he has litigated or arbitrated many disputes involving claims for extra work, delay and acceleration, changed conditions, and contract default. He has tried cases in state and federal court, claims court and the American Arbitration Association (AAA).
Mr. Straus has tried cases for public owners, including special use districts, involving both new construction and remodel, and defended bid disputes. His work for private developers and owners involves claims as varied as high-end industrial construction to food processing facilities.
His claims work for general contractors includes schools, golf club facilities, prisons and high-rise construction. His representation of subcontractors includes electricians, glazers, industrial and marine painters, window wall contractors and excavators. His work on behalf of suppliers includes representation of industrial pump manufacturers and wood flooring manufacturers.
Mr. Straus was distinguished in the inaugural issue of Seattle Business Monthly magazine as one of Seattle's top four construction lawyers, and has been recognized by Chambers USA as among Washington's most notable practitioners. Prior to joining Schwabe, he led the Construction, Real Estate and Environmental practice at Bullivant Houser Bailey.
- Represented a California-based bridge contractor on a multi-million dollar delay delay claim against the State of Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). Obtained settlement for general contractor and subcontractor from IDOT in first settlement IDOT ever paid without prior ruling on entitlement from the Illinois Court of Claims. Established legal precedent allowing pass-through claims by subcontractors to Illinois.
- Obtained two defense arbitration awards in two separate AAA arbitrations on behalf of two different Fire Districts in the State of Washington on multi-million dollar delay and extra work by two different contractors on both new construction and remodel.
- Representation of Oregon-based contractor for delay, extra work and impact claims.
- Obtained $3+ million AAA award against golf club developer after 6-week arbitration for contractor for extra work, delay and impact claims. Claim involved more than 500 RFIs.
- Obtained $2 million verdict for subcontractor client on shop disruption claim.
- Obtained a verdict after trial of $2+ million in favor of metal fabrication subcontractor for shop disruption and import against general contractor on wood chip ship loading and processing facility in Port Angeles, Washington.
In addition to an active litigation practice, Joe has worked as an independent legal advisor for project neutrals resolving claims between project owners and contractors before formal claim submission.
Mr. Straus also maintains a condemnation practice for landowners whose property is subject to governmental taking. He has handled valuation claims against port districts, cities, transportation departments and transit districts. The cases have involved valuation issues on fee takings and easements. He has handled relocation assistance claims for industrial tenants.
He has handled a wide variety of real estate litigation matters involving boundary disputes, claims of adverse possession, nuisance and commercial lease disputes.
In addition to his construction and real estate litigation practice, Mr. Straus has handled several matters to successful conclusion, primarily involving borrowers and guarantors in disputes with lenders. These disputes resulted in:
- $2.1 million arbitration verdict against a national bank for breach of its loan covenants and destruction of the borrower's business.
- Dismissal on summary judgment of claims against a loan guarantor on a commercial credit agreement default.
Awards and Honors
• AV, Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
• Named one of Washington's top commercial litigators by Chambers USA (2010)
• Selected for inclusion in Seattle Metropolitan Monthly's Top Lawyers list (2010, Construction)
• Selected for inclusion in Seattle Business Monthly's Top 76 Business Lawyers (2006, Construction)
Admitted to Practice
Washington State Courts
U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington
U.S Claims Court
University of Santa Clara Law School, Juris Doctor degree (1981)
Seattle University, Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude (1978)