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Litigation

Arbitration, litigation, mediation

Standing: Can anyone file a lawsuit?

Recently, the Washington Court of Appeals dismissed a case filed by a lot owner on behalf of a homeowners’ association because the person lacked standing to bring the lawsuit. The owner was claiming impact on or damage to a retention pond by a neighboring developer. But the court found the individual lot owner within a homeowner’s association (HOA) does not have standing to bring a claim that belonged to the HOA. Specifically, the owner was not a member of the HOA at the time of… Continue reading

I Bought a House and the Sellers did not Disclose Defects to Me. Can I Sue the Sellers?

The biggest purchase people make in their lives is often their house. Buying a house can be stressful. It also comes with a lot of unknowns. Buyers do not get many opportunities to inspect a house before buying it. So, there is risk that once you buy a home you will discover problems you did not know about.

When people discover problems with a home they bought, they often want to know if they can sue the seller for failing to disclose the problems. As… Continue reading

Will the Other Side Have to Pay my Attorney Fees?

Lawsuits are expensive. That is not going to change any time soon. In fact, the cost of litigation gets more and more expensive every year. In 2015, the Washington State Bar Association’s Task Force on the Escalating Costs of Civil Litigation issued a report with various recommendations on how to decrease the cost of litigation. Why litigation is so expensive and how to decrease the cost of litigation could be debated at length.

But every client who is involved in a lawsuit or about to… Continue reading

The Ostrich Defense – It Never Works

Ostriches are funny animals. They can often be seen with their heads in the sand. A common belief is that ostriches bury their head in the sand when they are scared or in danger. But this is actually a myth. While it may often look like ostriches bury their heads in the sand, they are actually checking in on their underground nests and eggs. Ostriches actually cannot escape danger by burying their heads in the sand, and neither can people.

 

People often try… Continue reading

Pillow talk: What conversations are protected between spouses?

In the United States, courts recognize that certain relationships are special and that communications made in the relationship are protected from being disclosed except under narrow exceptions. These protections include relationships between attorney-client, doctor-patient privilege, clergy-penitent, and spouses/domestic partners. The discussions between these people can be disclosed with the consent of the client, the patient, the penitent or either spouse/domestic partner.[1]

The marital (or spousal or domestic partner) privilege prevents a spouse from being called to testify against the other spouse without their permission (the… Continue reading

Mandatory Arbitration: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It is no surprise that the cost of legal services has increased over the years. In particular, it is increasingly expensive to resolve legal disputes through lawsuits in a court of law. One common negative effect of this is people of low and moderate means are unable to afford legal services to help resolve disputes. Another effect, applicable to everyone, is that it can be cost-prohibitive to resolve legal disputes in court when there are relatively small dollar amounts at stake.

 

To combat this… Continue reading

Five Things to Help Avoid Disputes with Contractors

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries has a great step-by-step homeowner’s guide to hiring a contractor that can be found online here. Every homeowner should review this guide before hiring a contractor to help avoid disputes with a contractor. Below is a list of some important things a homeowner can do to decrease the likelihood of a dispute arising with a contractor.

 

1.  Verify Contractor Registration. Verify that the contractor is registered with the Department of Labor & Industries and… Continue reading

Who Can (potentially) Recover Damages Pursuant to Washington’s Wrongful Death and Survival Statutes?

The Washington wrongful death statute, RCW 4.20.010, provides that when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act of another, the personal representative may maintain an action for damages against the person causing the death.  “The measure of damages is the actual pecuniary loss suffered by the surviving beneficiaries from the death of their relative, including loss of services, love, affection, care, companionship, and consortium.” Ginochio v. Hesston Corp., 46 Wash.App. 843, 846, 733 P.2d 551 (1987). 

The wrongful… Continue reading

Assumption of Risk Defense

The doctrine of assumption of risk was recently addressed by the Washington Court of Appeals, Division 3, in Jessee v. City Council of Dayton, 293 P.3d 1290 (Wash. Ct. App., 2013).  In Jessee, the plaintiff tripped, fell, and injured herself on an old firehouse stairway which did not comply with building codes.  Id.  Jessee sued the City of Dayton for damages and asserted negligence claims.  The defendant, City of Dayton, alleged that Jessee assumed the risk of injury because… Continue reading

Joint and Several Liability: Is It Fair?

In the realm of tort litigation in Washington State, the concept of joint and several liability can have a significant impact on the apportionment of a claimant’s total damages amongst at-fault parties.  

Washington law provides: 

In all actions involving fault of more than one entity, the trier of fact shall determine the percentage of total fault which is attributable to every entity which caused the claimant’s damages. . . .  The sum of the percentages of the total fault attributed to at-fault… Continue reading