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Posts from the ‘Case Law Updates’ Category

Lost client flyer

What to Do When You Can’t Find Your Client

What if you can’t contact your client and a deadline is near? Should you act to protect them, even if they can’t be reached? WSBA attorney Sandra Schilling explains the rules you need to know.

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Social Security and the 10-Year Marriage Rule

Social Security benefits may not be on clients’ minds when getting divorced, but one critical timing mistake could cost them a bundle.

divorceSocial Security retirement benefits may not be the first thing on your clients’ minds when they are getting divorced, especially if they are younger. The right to Social Security benefits is a federal entitlement not affected by state law, and rarely discussed much during divorce. But one critical timing mistake could cost your client a bundle down the road. Read more »


Court of Appeals Discusses Arbitration of Legal Malpractice Claims

path to success
Division I of the Court of Appeals recently discussed arbitration of legal malpractice claims in Butler v. Thomsen. The facts in Butler were unusual.

path to successDivision I of the Court of Appeals recently discussed arbitration of legal malpractice claims in Butler v. Thomsen, 2016 WL 4524244 (Wn. App. Aug. 29, 2016) (unpublished). The facts in Butler were unusual. A lawyer had negotiated the settlement of a minority shareholder “squeeze out” case involving a closely held high-tech company. The settlement agreement contained a broad release of claims and a companion provision selecting arbitration for “any dispute” arising from the agreement. Later, another shareholder raised a similar claim after allegedly being “squeezed out” of the company. None of the parties requested arbitration, but the trial court held that several claims in the second case fell within the release from the first. The shareholder in the second case then sued the lawyer who had drafted the release for malpractice — arguing that it was overly broad. Read more »


Court of Appeals Outlines Standards for Implied Waiver of Attorney-Client Privilege in Settlement Reasonableness Hearings

The Court of Appeals recently outlined implied-waiver for attorney-client privilege in reasonableness hearings. Mark Fucile breaks it down.

justiceDivision II of the Court of Appeals recently outlined the standards for implied waiver of the attorney-client privilege in the context of settlement “reasonableness” hearings under RCW 4.22.060. In Steel v. Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co. WL 4001431 (July 26, 2016), the parents of children who had been abused at a day care center sued the center and its owners. The day care center had limited insurance coverage and eventually agreed to settle the case for the policy limits and the assignment of their bad-faith claim against their insurance carrier. The settlement was to be effected through a $25 million “covenant judgment” under which the day care center stipulated that the abuse occurred, that the day care center was negligent and the plaintiffs had been harmed. RCW 4.22.060 provides a procedure for a trial court to determine whether a settlement is reasonable because the settlement may affect the rights of other parties. In this instance, the day care center’s insurance carrier intervened to challenge the reasonableness of the settlement involved. Read more »


Court of Appeals Finds Fee Dispute Alone Doesn’t Support Consumer Protection Act Claim

Gavel and Bemjamins
A recent decision from the Court of Appeals illustrates that some fee disputes will not meet the “public interest” requirement.

Gavel and BemjaminsSince Short v. Demopolis, 103 Wn.2d 52, 691 P.2d 163 (1984), the business aspects of law practice have been subject to the Washington Consumer Protection Act. RCW 19.86.020 prohibits “unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce…” RCW 19.86.090, in turn, creates a private right of action for CPA violations and includes both attorney fees and treble damages (to $25,000 beyond actual damages) remedies for a successful claimant. Read more »