Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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Without alleging a defendant purposefully availed itself of the privilege of doing business in Washington, thus invoking the benefits and protections of Washington laws, exercising jurisdiction would not comport with due process. Special Electric Company Inc. asked the Washington Supreme Court to reverse the Court of Appeals because that court found Washington could exercise specific personal jurisdiction over Special Electric under a stream of commerce theory without any allegation that Special Electric purposefully availed itself of Washington's laws. Because the parties and trial court did not have the benefit of the Court’s recent decision in Washington v. LG Electronics, Inc., 375 P.3d 1035 (2016), cert. denied, 137 S. Ct. 648 (2017), or the recently disclosed evidence of Special Electric' s unrelated contacts in Washington, the Supreme Court remanded this case back to the trial court for reconsideration. The Court accepted review in this case, however, because it disagreed with the Court of Appeals' application of “LG Electronics,” and this case offered an opportunity for the Supreme Court to give guidance to the lower courts on what a plaintiff must allege for specific personal jurisdiction. View "Noll v. Amer. Biltrite Inc." on Justia Law

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The sole issue in this case was whether advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) were per se disqualified from testifying on proximate cause in a medical negligence case. The Washington Supreme Court held that ARNPs may be qualified to testify regarding causation in a medical malpractice case if the trial court determines that the ARNP meets the threshold requirements of ER 702. The ability to independently diagnose and prescribe treatment for a particular malady was strong evidence that the expert might be qualified to discuss the cause of that same malady. The Court reversed the trial court and remanded for further proceedings. View "Frausto v. Yakima HMA, LLC" on Justia Law

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The issue in this case centered on the interpretation of the "right to travel" provision Article III of the Yakama Nation Treaty of 1855, in the context of importing fuel into Washington State. The Washington State Department of Licensing (Department) challenged Cougar Den Inc.'s importation of fuel without holding an importer's license and without paying state fuel taxes under former chapter 82.36 RCW, repealed by LAWS OF 2013, ch. 225, section 501, and former chapter 82.38 RCW (2007). An administrative law judge ruled in favor of Cougar Den, holding that the right to travel on highways should be interpreted to preempt the tax. The Department's director, Pat Kohler, reversed. On appeal, the Yakima County Superior Court reversed the director's order and ruled in favor of Cougar Den. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Washington Supreme Court affirmed. View "Cougar Den, Inc. v. Dep't of Licensing" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court’s review was whether the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe's (Tribe) assertion of sovereign immunity requires dismissal of an in rem adverse possession action to quiet title to a disputed strip of land on the boundary of property purchased by the Tribe. The superior court concluded that because it had in rem jurisdiction, it could determine ownership of the land without the Tribe's participation. An inquiry under CR 19, involved a merit-based determination that some interest will be adversely affected in the litigation. Where no interest is found to exist, especially in an in rem proceeding, nonjoinder presents no jurisdictional barriers. The Supreme Court found that the Tribe did not have an interest in the disputed property; therefore, the Tribe's sovereign immunity was no barrier to this in rem proceeding. The trial court properly denied the Tribe's motion to dismiss and granted summary judgment to the property owner. View "Lundgren v. Upper Skagit Indian Tribe" on Justia Law

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One evening, plaintiff Deborah Peralta was drinking beer with a neighbor in a downtown Vancouver tavern. After an argument at the party, Peralta left on foot, became lost, and called her brother Jorge Peralta. She told him she had been drinking and asked for a ride home. After several unsuccessful efforts to meet her brother, Peralta mistook an approaching car for her brother's car. She stepped in front of the car, which was driven by a Washington State Patrol Sergeant who did not see Peralta in time to stop. The trooper struck her with his vehicle. The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court’s review was the trial court's ruling that plaintiff’s admission during pretrial discovery should have been given conclusive effect. Plaintiff admitted without qualification to being "under the influence of intoxicating liquors" at the time she was struck and injured. The Supreme Court held that her admission in this context was unambiguous and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it ruled she was bound by her admission. The jury instruction incorporating this ruling was also appropriate. As a result, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals on this point. The Supreme Court did not address the other evidentiary errors identified by the Court of Appeals, but instead remanded them for a determination of prejudice. View "Peralta v. Washington" on Justia Law

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The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington certified two questions to the Washington Supreme Court about the application of RCW 49.52.050, the wage rebate act (WRA), in circumstances of chapter 7 bankruptcy: (1) whether an officer, vice principal, or agent of an employer liable for a deprivation of wages under RCW 49.52.050 when his or her employment with the employer (and his or her ability to control the payment decision) was terminated before the wages became due and owing; and (2) whether an officer, vice principal, or agent's participation in the decision to file the Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition that effectively terminated his or her employment and ability to control payment decisions alter the analysis. The Washington Supreme Court answered both questions in the affirmative: (1) officers, vice principals, or agents may be held personally liable under the WRA, even if the payday date for those wages came after the employer filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy; and (2) an officer's participation in the decision to file the chapter 7 bankruptcy petition tends to show a willful withholding of wages-the second element required by the WRA. View "Allen v. Dameron" on Justia Law

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Petitioner J.B. argued that his parental rights with respect to his biological child K.J.B. could not be terminated without express written findings of fact on “incarcerated parent factors” from the 2013 amendment of RCW 13.34.180(1)(f). The Supreme Court held that while explicit findings on the incarcerated parent factors were not statutorily required, consideration of the factors was mandatory. Because the trial court failed to consider the incarcerated parent factors in this case, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court for consideration of the incarcerated parent factors. View "In re Parental Rights to K.J.B." on Justia Law

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Virgil Becker, a retired doctor, was killed in a plane crash. His estate claimed that a faulty carburetor caused the crash. Forward Technology Industries Inc. (FTI) built a component for that carburetor. The Estate brought numerous claims against FTI, including a state product liability claim implicating a faulty carburetor component. FTI moved for summary judgment, arguing that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 preempted state law. The federal district court for the Third Circuit recently found that federal aviation regulations do not preempt the state product liability of an aviation systems manufacturer because they were “not so pervasive as to indicate congressional intent to preempt state law.” The Washington Supreme Court followed the Third Circuit and found that the Federal Aviation Act did not preempt state law, reversed the Court of Appeals which held to the contrary, and remanded this case back to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Estate of Becker v. Forward Tech. Indus., Inc." on Justia Law

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A mother sought an emergency protection order to keep her soon-to-be ex-husband away from her and their children because, she alleged, he had abused them. The father denied the allegations and sought to cross-examine one of the daughters about her claim that he had repeatedly tried to suffocate her, among other things. Evidence was presented that the daughter was suicidal, was unable to confront her father, and would be significantly traumatized by this cross-examination. The issue this case presented was whether the father had a constitutional or statutory right to question his minor daughter in court before the protection order could be issued. Finding under the facts of this case that he did not, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Aiken v. Aiken" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Alyne Fortgang filed a request for documents concerning the elephants at the Woodland Park Zoo (Zoo). She filed a request under the Public Records Act (PRA), which required every government "agency" to make records "available for [public] inspection and copying." Petitioner filed her request with the Woodland Park Zoo Society (WPZS), the private nonprofit that runs the Zoo. WPZS argued that the PRA did not apply to it as a private entity. The Court of Appeals interpreted the statutory word "agency" to include private entities when they act as the functional equivalent of government agencies. Under the Telford analysis, the appellate court concluded WPZS was not the functional equivalent of a government agency, and did not have to produce the records. The Supreme Court agreed and affirmed the Court of Appeals. View "Fortgang v. Woodland Park Zoo" on Justia Law