Certificate of Merit Passes Senate Committee

The certificate of merit bill (SB 5833) passed as the last bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee before tonight’s deadline.

SB 5833 would require a certificate of merit to be filed with the court prior to a suit proceeding against a design professional. It is modeled after a similar requirement passed by the Washington State Legislature in 2006 (RCW 7.70.150) for medical professionals. SB 5833 would apply to “an architect, professional engineer, land surveyor, landscape architect, or geologist who is licensed and authorized by law to practice such profession.” It would also apply to the firms that employ these professionals and employees or subconsultants of those professionals.

AIA/WA used insurance claims data to bolster its arguments for the bill. The AIA Trust’s commended professional liability insurance provider CNA/Schinnerer conducted a custom study on claims against design professional firms in Washington State. The study found that “71.2 percent of the claims, design firms were determined to have had no responsibility for damage or injury as measured by having no indemnity payment by the insurer on behalf of the design firm.”

The bill now goes to the Senate Rules Committee before being considered by the full Senate.