Articles Posted in Washington Supreme Court

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In 2012 and 2013, petitioners submitted permit applications to the San Juan County Department of Community Development. The county code listed 19 items that a party must submit to complete an application, one of which is paying "[t]he applicable fee." Petitioners paid the applicable fees, and the permits were issued. On March 18, 2015, almost three years later, petitioners filed this lawsuit, seeking a partial refund of the fees they now characterized as "illegally excessive" in violation of RCW 82.02.020. They sought certification as a class action lawsuit for everyone who paid San Juan County for consideration of land use and building permits, modifications, or renewals during the preceding three years. Petitioners requested a declaratory judgment, payment to the putative class reaching back three years for any amount found to be an overcharge, and attorney fees. The trial court dismissed the suit, finding the Land Use Petition Act (LUPA) governed, and a failure to file suit within 21 days barred the action. Finding no reversible error, the Washington Supreme Court affirmed dismissal. View "Cmty. Treasures v. San Juan County" on Justia Law

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Christopher Belling was forced to litigate to receive workers' compensation. The Employment Security Department sought to share in his award. Under some circumstances, when a person is forced to litigate to recover an award, others who seek to share in that award must also share in attorney fees. Under RCW 50.20.190, when a person receives both unemployment and workers' compensation benefits, the unemployment benefits must be repaid. The statute allows for situations when "equity and good conscience" makes repayment unfair under the circumstances. The Washington Supreme Court held in this case, the Department has to consider whether equity and good conscience required it to share in Belling's attorney fees as part of its large consideration of whether it would be fair to partially waive reimbursement of overpaid benefits under RCW 50.20.190(2). Given the case presented to the Department, the Supreme Court could not say the Department erred in declining to reduce reimbursement to account for Belling's attorney fees and costs. View "Belling v. Emp't Sec. Dep't" on Justia Law

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The City of Olympia, Washington contracted with NOVA Contracting, Inc. to replace a deteriorating culvert. The contract contained a "notice of protest" provision, which was taken from the Washington Department of Transportation's "standard Specifications for Road, Bridge, and Municipal Construction (2012) manual. NOVA sued the City for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; the City moved to dismiss based in part on NOVA's filature to file a protest first before taking the City to court. The trial court dismissed NOVA's claim, but the Court of Appeals reversed. The Washington Supreme Court has addressed this written notice issue twice before; the Court of Appeals interpreted those holdings, however, as only applying to claims for cost of work performed and not claims for expectancy and consequential damages. The Supreme Court held the two prior cases applied even to claims of expectancy and consequential damages. Therefore, the Court reversed the appellate court and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "NOVA Contracting, Inc. v. City of Olympia" on Justia Law

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A cemetery operator challenged a fine imposed when it relocated cremains without giving prior notification of its actions to next of kin. The operator claimed it was acting under its own rules in disinterring 37 sets of cremains without notice, and therefore acting under authority of law. The Washington Supreme Court concluded the operator's rules did not supersede state statutes, and therefore affirmed the Court of Appeals which upheld the fine. View "Southwick, Inc. v. Washington" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review centered on whether the state Department of Ecology's then-current wast discharge permitting process complied with RCW 90.48.520 and its requirement for permit conditions to "require all known, available and reasonable methods" to control toxicants in the applicant's wastewater. Specifically, the issue was whether the statute required the Department to use a more sensitive testing method not recognized by the Department or the U.S. EPA as reliable for permit compliance purposes. The Supreme Court determined that it did not require such testing, and affirmed the Court of Appeals. View "Puget Soundkeeper All. v. Dep't of Ecology" on Justia Law

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Washington voters referred Initiative 940 ("I-940") to the Legislature; I-940 was an initiative concerning police reform. The legislature also passed a conditional bill, ESHB 3003, purporting to prospectively amend 1-940 if it passed later-in this case, just a few minutes later. But that conditional, prospective bill violated the explicit language and allocation of legislative power contained in article II, section 1 of the Washington Constitution. A divided Washington Supreme Court majority affirmed a superior court's decision to issue a writ of mandamus compelling the Washington Secretary of State to place I-940 on the ballot. View "Eyman v. Wyman" on Justia Law

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The central issue in this case was whether the administrative exhaustion rule found in the Land Use Petition Act (LUPA) applies to all tort claims that arise during the land use decision-making process. In late 2009, Maytown purchased real property in Thurston County, Washington from the Port of Tacoma (Port) for the express purpose of operating a mine. The property came with an approved 20-year special use permit (permit) from Thurston County (County) for mining gravel. Maytown and the Port claimed the County's board of commissioners (Board) succumbed to political pressure from opponents to the mine and directed the County's Resource Stewardship Department to impose unnecessary procedural hurdles meant to obstruct and stall the mining operation. Because the property had been designated by the County as "mineral land of long term commercial significance," the County was obligated to balance the protection of the mineral land with the protection of critical areas. Other issues raised by this case centered on whether the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding of a substantive due process violation 42 U.S.C. 1983; whether an aggrieved party can recover prelitigation, administrative fora attorney fees intentionally caused by the tortfeasor under a tortious interference claim; and, whether the Court of Appeals erred in awarding a request under RAP 18.1(b) for appellate attorney fees that was not made in a separate section devoted solely to that request. The Washington Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals on all but the third issue raised: the tortious interference claims pled in this case did not authorize recovery of prelitigation, administrative fora attorney fees. The Supreme Court therefore affirmed in part, and reversed in part. View "Maytown Sand & Gravel, LLC v. Thurston County" on Justia Law

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The Washington Supreme Court affirmed lower courts' decisions in four cases which all presented the same issue: whether Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority could condemn Seattle's electrical transmission line easements located in the city of Bellevue to extend the Transit's regional light rail system. The Supreme Court held that Sound Transit had the statutory authority to condemn the easement, and the condemnation met public use and necessity requirements. The Court remanded the cases back to the trial court, however, for consideration of the prior public use doctrine, and for a finding on whether the two public uses were compatible. View "Cent. Puget Sound Reg'l Transit Auth. v. WR-SRI 120th N. LLC" on Justia Law

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Specialty Asphalt & Construction, LLC and its majority owner, Lisa Jacobsen (Specialty), brought suit against Lincoln County, Washington (County) for gender discrimination, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract arising out of the County's bidding and contracting process for a paving project. Specialty lost all three claims it brought at the trial court. The Court of Appeals affirmed, and Specialty petitioned for review by the Washington Supreme Court. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The Court affirmed with respect to the appellate court's holding that an injunction was the exclusive remedy for Specialty's contract claim. The Court reversed with respect to the gender discrimination and negligent misrepresentation claims: Some elements of Specialty's evidence, standing alone, might not create a reasonable inference of discrimination, but when viewed together, the inference of discrimination "becomes quite strong;" Specialty also provided evidence of its recoverable reliance damages to defeat summary judgment on its negligent misrepresentation claim. View "Specialty Asphalt & Constr., LLC v. Lincoln County" on Justia Law

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Appellant Cynthia Stewart appealed after she was found ineligible for unemployment benefits. Stewart suffered from migraine headaches and took prescription medication to help manage her symptoms. Her former employer fired Stewart after she "came to work impaired due to prescription narcotics for the second time in a six-month period." Stewart's application for unemployment benefits was initially granted, but her former employer appealed, and an administrative law judge reversed. Stewart petitioned for review by the BSD commissioner, who affirmed that Stewart was ineligible for benefits. Stewart's petition was not subject to the procedural statutes in the Employment Security Act (ESA), Title 50, RCW; instead, her petition for judicial review was governed by the procedures listed in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), chapter 34.05 RCW. And pursuant to the APA, Stewart did not timely serve her petition on the ESD. She therefore failed to invoke the superior court's appellate jurisdiction, and the Washington Supreme Court determined the superior court correctly recognized that it was required to dismiss this case. View "Stewart v. Emp't Sec. Dep't" on Justia Law