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Robbin Taylor filed a statement of charges seeking recall of Black Diamond City council member Patricia Pepper. In November 2015, Pepper defeated opponent Ron Taylor (husband of Robbin Taylor) in an election for Black Diamond City Council in King County. Beginning in January 2016, a chasm developed with Mayor Carol Benson and council members Tamie Deady and Janie Edelman on one side, and a majority of the city council - Pepper, Erika Morgan, and Brian Weber - on the other. After Pepper, Morgan, and Weber passed R-1069, they voted to fire city attorney Carol Morris. Upon passing R-1069, Pepper and a majority of the council made decisions to alter contracts regarding the Master Development Review Team (MDRT) contracts for two large development projects planned in Black Diamond that had been approved by Mayor Benson and former council members. Mayor Benson hired emergency interim city attorney Yvonne Ward. Ward submitted two memoranda to the council, concluding that R-1069 violated the Black Diamond Municipal Code (BDMC) and the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), chapter 42.30 RCW. The council had also received advice from prior city attorney Morris and from the city's risk management pool that the resolution could create liability for the city if council members violated the OPMA. Ultimately, the council's decision to enact R-1069 and revisit the MDRT contracts, among other actions, led to a lawsuit: MDRT contractor CCD Black Diamond Partners LLC (Oakpointe) filed suit against the city and council members Pepper, Morgan, and Weber, alleging violations of the OPMA, which has led to litigation and costs for the city. Pepper was a member of council standing committees; allegations were made that Pepper, Morgan, and Weber held secret council and standing committee meetings conducting city business in violation of the OPMA. After approximately a year and a half of tensions, Taylor filed a statement of charges with the King County Elections Division, requesting Pepper's recall. The superior court ruled that four of those charges were factually and legally sufficient to support a recall petition. Pepper appealed. After review, the Washington Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's decision with regard to the first three charges, but reversed with regard to the fourth charge. View "In re Recall of Pepper" on Justia Law

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The Public Utility District No. 1 of Kittitas County (district) fired Kim Mikkelsen after 27 years of service. Mikkelsen sued the district, alleging that, among other things, her dismissal violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD). Specifically, Mikkelsen claims that Charles Ward, the general manager, exhibited a bias against women and older employees and that gender and age discrimination were substantial factors in his decision to fire her. She also argued her dismissal violated the progressive correction action policy the district distributed to its employees. The Washington Supreme Court affirmed summary judgment dismissal of Mikkelsen's age discrimination claim because Mikkelsen presented almost no evidence of age discrimination. But the Court reversed summary judgment dismissal of Mikkelsen's gender discrimination claim because the facts taken in the light most favorable to her create a material issue of fact about whether gender discrimination was a substantial factor in Ward's decision to fire her. The corrective action policy was ambiguous and could plausibly be read as establishing a for-cause standard for dismissal. View "Mikkelsen v. Pub. Util. Dist. No. 1 of Kittitas County" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether the trial court in Ascencion Salgado-Mendoza's trial for driving under the influence abused its discretion by refusing to suppress the testimony of the State's toxicology witness. The State initially disclosed the names of nine toxicologists, indicating it intended to call "one of the following" to testify. The State eventually whittled the list down to three names the day before trial, but did not specify which toxicologist it would call until the morning of trial. Salgado-Mendoza moved to suppress the toxicologist's testimony under CrRLJ 8.3(b) based on late disclosure. The trial court refused, finding no actual prejudice to the defense and observing that the practice of disclosing a list of available toxicologists rather than a specific witness was driven more by underfunding of the crime labs than trial mismanagement. The superior court found the trial court abused its discretion and the Court of Appeals affirmed, holding the delayed disclosure violated the discovery rules and caused prejudice. The Washington Supreme Court disagreed, finding that while the State's disclosure practice may have amounted to mismanagement, Salgado-Mendoza did not demonstrate actual prejudice to justify suppression. View "Washington v. Salgado-Mendoza" on Justia Law

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In 2015, after attempting to steal a riding lawnmower, Joshua Barnes was arrested and charged with theft of a motor vehicle. He filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that a riding lawnmower was not a "motor vehicle" under RCW 9A.56.065. The Washington Supreme Court's plain reading of the statute found that a riding lawn mower could conceivably have contemplated a riding lawn mower. However, the Court found the Washington Legislature intended otherwise. "Because the act itself denotes a restrained definition, we find that as a matter of law, a riding lawn mower is not a 'motor vehicle' for the purposes of the theft-of-a-motor-vehicle statute." View "Washington v. Barnes" on Justia Law

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Kung Da Chang entered into a credit facility arrangement with Shanghai Commercial Bank (SCB) between March and April 2008 by executing five agreements. Together, these five agreements enabled Chang and his father, Clark Chang, to borrow large sums from SCB, and those sums make up the underlying debt obligation at issue in this lawsuit. These five documents defined Chang and SCB's agreement and governed their obligations. The parties' agreement explicitly included a choice of law provision selecting Hong Kong law as the governing law. SCB delivered the agreement papers for Chang's signature to an address in Shanghai that was actually Clark's residence. Clark sent the documents to his son in Seattle. Chang signed the documents, returned them to his father in Shanghai, and Clark forwarded them to SCB in Hong Kong. There was no indication that SCB knew that it was dealing with a person residing in Seattle. Chang ultimately defaulted on the debt obligation, and the parties litigated the matter in Hong Kong. SCB prevailed and secured a $9 million judgment. The Hong Kong judgment encompassed what Washington State considered Chang and his wife's marital community; Hong Kong law exempted solely separate property of a spouse, not community property, from judgments entered against one spouse. The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review was whether the Hong Kong judgment as enforceable against marital community property in Washington State. Specifically, the issue was whether the choice-of-law provision in the contracts along with application of the "most significant relationship" test for determining conflict of law issues, and ultimately, whether Hong Kong law should be applied to reach the community assets in Washington to satisfy the valid and enforceable foreign judgment. The Washington Supreme Court determined that under the facts of this case, the debtor's community property could be reached to satisfy the Hong Kong judgment. View "Shanghai Commercial Bank, Ltd. v. Kung Da Chang" on Justia Law

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Former Seattle Public Schools (SPS) employees sought reversal of a Court of Appeals decision that affirmed summary judgment in favor of their bargaining representative, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 609-A (IUOE). The appeal raised two issues: (1) whether petitioners' negligent and unauthorized practice of law and Consumer Protection Act claims against the union were subsumed within their claims that the IUOW breached its duty of fair representation; and (2) whether a six-month statute of limitations for unfair labor practices brought before the Public Employment Relations Commission applied to petitioners' claims they brought to the superior court. The Washington Supreme Court concluded the claims arising out of the union's representation were subsumed into a duty of fair representation claim, and that the six-month statute of limitations did not apply to unfair labor practices filed in superior court because the applicable statutes referred only to claims filed with the Public Employment Relations Commission. The Court held the trial court erred in granting summary judgment because petitioners' claims were timely. View "Killian v. Seattle Pub. Schs." on Justia Law

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Three cases were consolidated for review by the Washington Supreme Court. Each petitioner-defendant was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). Two had high blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) but no previous DUI arrests, while the third petitioner had allegedly used marijuana and had a previous DUI conviction. Each challenged his or her testing conditions by petitioning for a writ of review with the Spokane County Superior Court. The superior court denied the writ applications. After review of the superior court record in each petitioner’s case, the Supreme Court reversed, finding all three were entitled to statutory writs of review because they lacked an adequate remedy at law to challenge their pretrial release conditions and because their urinalysis testing requirements contravened article I, section 7 of the Washington State Constitution. View "Blomstrom v. Tripp" on Justia Law

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A jury found Steven Canha guilty of two counts of assault in the second degree and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree. At the sentencing hearing, the superior court calculated Canha's offender score by using four out-of-state criminal convictions, one from California and three from Oregon. However, the court failed to perform a comparability analysis of these out-of-state convictions to see whether they were sufficiently comparable to any Washington offenses. The superior court sentenced Canha to serve 154 months. At issue before the Washington Supreme Court was whether the four criminal convictions from other states were sufficiently comparable to Washington crimes that they should have been included in a defendant's criminal history for sentencing purposes. The Supreme Court conducted the comparability analysis, concluded that three of Canha's four foreign convictions were comparable to Washington offenses, and remanded the case to the superior court to resentence Canha accordingly. View "In re Pers. Restraint of Canha" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Eric Gray electronically sent an unsolicited picture of his penis to an adult woman when he was seventeen years old. The woman notified police; police found and charged petitioner with one count of second degree dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct pursuant to RCW 9.68A.050. Petitioner appealed, arguing the plain language of the statute did not anticipate minors who took and transmitted sexually explicit images of themselves. The Washington Supreme Court found the language of the statute unambiguous, and found petitioner's actions were included under the statute, and the statute did not infringe on his freedom of expression or other Constitutional rights. View "Washington v. Gray" on Justia Law

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This case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review claims of breaches of fiduciary duty and legal malpractice against lawyers hired to defend insureds in a civil action where the insurance company provided the defense. The insureds claimed the lawyers failed to disclose potential conflicts of interest based on long-standing relationships the law firm had with the insurance company in not only accepting cases representing insureds in other civil cases, but also representing the insurance company itself in coverage disputes. The insureds also claimed the attorneys failed to advise them of settlement negotiations, and by taking settlement directions from the insurer. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the lawyers, finding the insureds failed to establish an actionable breach. The Court of Appeals affirmed. While the Supreme Court disagreed with portions of the appellate court's analysis, it affirmed the result. View "Arden v. Forsberg & Umlauf, PS" on Justia Law