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Posts from the ‘Wash Supreme Court’ Category

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Supreme Court Holds Order Allowing Withdrawal Precludes Subsequent Malpractice Claim Over the Withdrawal

The Washington Supreme Court held recently in Schibel v. Eymann that a court order permitting withdrawal under CR 71 precludes a subsequent malpractice claim over the withdrawal. Schibel grew out of a commercial lease and related mold exposure litigation. Disagreements over strategy in the underlying case led the lawyers to seek leave to withdraw. Because the trial was approaching rapidly, the lawyers also filed a motion to continue. The trial court allowed the withdrawal but denied the continuance. When the clients — who were then pro se — did not appear for trial, the trial court dismissed their claims with prejudice and the Court of Appeals affirmed in Schibel v. Johnson, 2012 WL 2326992 (Wn. App. June 19, 2012) (unpublished). The clients later sued the lawyers for legal malpractice, alleging that the lawyers’ withdrawal was improper that close to trial. In the legal malpractice case, the lawyers moved for summary judgment — arguing that the clients were precluded from challenging their withdrawal because it had been allowed by the trial court and affirmed on appeal. The trial court in the legal malpractice case denied the motion, concluding that the subsequent action was not barred by collateral estoppel. On discretionary review, Division III agreed. On a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court reversed — holding that the portions of the subsequent legal malpractice claim focused on withdrawal were precluded as a matter of law.

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Court of Appeals Reiterates No Duty to Will Beneficiaries

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Court of Appeals affirms will beneficiaries usually have no standing for malpractice against the attorney who drew the will.

law booksDivision I of the Court of Appeals in Reznick v. Livengood, Alskog, PLLC, 2016 WL 7470037 (Wn. App. Dec. 27, 2016) (unpublished), recently reiterated that will beneficiaries ordinarily do not have standing to bring a legal malpractice claim against the attorney who drew the will involved because they are not clients of the lawyer. In doing so, the Court of Appeals relied primarily on its own opinion in Parks v. Fink, 173 Wn. App. 366, 293 P.3d 1275 (2013), which, in turn, applied the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in Trask v. Butler, 123 Wn.2d 835, 872 P.2d 1080 (1994). Read more »


Supreme Court Holds No Privilege for Communications with Former Employees

Cartoon of man with mouth full of bricks
No attorney-client privilege for communications between corporate or governmental counsel and former employees, state Supreme Court rules.

Cartoon of man with mouth full of bricksIn a case of first impression in Washington, the state Supreme Court recently held that communications between corporate or governmental counsel and former employees do not fall within the attorney-client privilege even if the communications concern matters that occurred during a former employee’s work for the corporation or government agency involved. The Supreme Court’s 5–4 decision in Newman v. Highland School District No. 203, ___ Wn.2d ___, ___ P.3d ___, 2016 WL 6126472 (Oct. 20, 2016), was on discretionary review. Read more »


Highlights from the 2016 WSBA 50-Year Member Luncheon

50-year members
Congratulations to our 71 members who celebrate 50 years of WSBA membership in 2016!

50-year membersCongratulations to our 71 members who celebrate 50 years of WSBA membership in 2016! 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 »