The Washington Court of Appeals and the Case of the Missing Findings of Fact

In State v. Yallup, Division 3 of the Court of Appeals provides some advice to parties on what to do if the trial court does not timely enter findings of fact. I was not aware of this being a big problem, but apparently it is—especially when the trial judge retires to “spend much of [his] time at sea” before the findings can be entered. Here’s the Court of Appeals’ full discussion of the issue in Yallup along with recommendations to counsel faced with this problem in future cases: Continue reading


Daily Decisions: Varying Standards of Review of Workers’ Comp Decisions

Over the years, I’ve done a lot of thinking about Jorge Cantu’s injuries, mainly because he was on one of my fantasy baseball teams for about four seasons in a row a while back. Well, Jorge L. Cantu v. Department of Labor & Industries (Division 3, March 27, 2012) (published May 8, 2012), involves an injury to Jorge Cantu, but it’s not this Jorge Cantu:

Jorge Cantu

Unfortunately, this post has nothing to do with baseball. No, it’s about an injury a different Mr. Cantu suffered to his knee while working at WestFarm Foods back in 2004. He initially filed a claim with the Department of Labor and Industries about a month after his accident. Pursuant to that claim, and based on his leg injury, Cantu was awarded permanent partial disability payments from WestFarm. Continue reading

Daily Decisions: Three Kinds of Appeal, One Dog

Spokane County said that CherryAnn Coballes’s dog Gunnar was a “dangerous dog.” She’s tried to appeal that decision in various ways, but in Coballes v. Spokane County (Division 3, April 26, 2012), the Court of Appeals told Coballes that she’s been using the wrong kinds of appeals. Regardless, the Court seems sympathetic to Coballes’s plight. It went out of its way to point out that this whole problem started because a three-year-old girl went into a closed bedroom, which she had been told not to do, and was therefore bitten by a dog that the Coballes family locked in the bedroom specifically for safety purposes while the child was visiting. Continue reading

SCOW to Plaintiffs: Don’t Worry, Take Your Time, We’ll Wait!

First of all, is this use of “SCOW” for the Supreme Court of Washington going to catch on? I mean, people use SCOTUS all the time, and SCOW is just as good, right? Let’s make it happen!

Anyway, yesterday SCOW issued a decision in Business Services of America II, Inc. v. WaferTech LLC (Wash. April 19, 2012), which deals with dismissals for lack of prosecution under CR 41(b)(1). The opinion was authored by Judge Chambers and there was a dissent authored by Chief Judge Madsen (joined by Judge Johnson). Sadly, despite a party named “WaferTech,” the case has nothing to do with delicious ‘Nilla Wafers. Apparently, WaferTech makes semiconductor wafers, like this:

Non-tasty Wafer
Non-tasty Wafer

The facts of the case are relatively simple: Business Services of America II (“BSA”) and WaferTech (“WT”) had a contract dispute way back in 1998. BSA sued WT under a variety of causes of action, all of which were dismissed at trial by the trial judge. The Court of Appeals affirmed most of the dismissals, but reversed with respect to one lien claim. The case was therefore remanded for trial on the lien claim in 2004.

And then basically nothing happened for five years. WT filed a satisfaction of judgment for the attorneys’ fees in 2005. In July 2006, the trial court issued an order stating that either the parties needed to pick up their trial exhibits or he was going to throw them out. Nobody responded. He threw them out. And in May 2008, BSA’s counsel filed a notice of intent to withdraw, which stated that the case had been dismissed.

That was all the action on the case until June 2009 when BSA noted the case for trial on the lien claim. WT subsequently moved to dismiss the case for failure to prosecute. The trial court granted the motion, apparently on the basis that CR 41(b)(1) didn’t apply (we’ll get to that in a moment) and that he had discretion to dismiss the case. The Court of Appeals disagreed, which brings us to the Supreme Court. Continue reading

Daily Decisions: A Case About an “Unsightly and Barren Goat Enclosure”

I don’t think there is much new to discuss regarding Gander v. Yeager (Division 2, April 10, 2012), but it does involve some neighbors arguing about goats. So that’s something. And the case may be of some interest on the topic of appellate review of fee awards. Maybe. Oh, and the Chutzpah Doctrine makes an appearance as well, so there’s that. But anyway, on with the case…

Back in 2005, there was a boundary dispute out in Bainbridge Island between (1) the Ridingses and (2) Malcolm Gander and Melanie Keenan. The Court refers to Gander and Keenan as Gander/Keenan “intending no disrespect.” I am going to refer to them as G/K, but I want to be clear that I don’t intend any disrespect either! The Ridingses and G/K settled their dispute pursuant to a written settlement agreement. The agreement provided that G/K shall not disparage the Ridingses and vice versa. Disputes regarding the agreement were subject to arbitration.

Four months after this settlement agreement, the Ridingses sold their property to Karen Keefe. Keefe then claimed that G/K began harassing her in violation of the agreement by, among other things, “operating ‘an unsightly and barren goat enclosure,’” “‘allowing the goats to bleat and cry for extended periods before feeding them,’” “putting goat waste along or very near the property line,” and “operating a chainsaw for extended lengths of time near Keefe’s home for no apparent purpose.” I hope that the chainsaw had nothing to do with the goats. Continue reading

Daily Decisions: Four Wills and a Guy Named Will

In re The Trust and Estate of Melter (Division 3, March 20, 2012), is somewhat of a crazy case that might interest you if you care at all about (1) challenges to wills and inter vivos gifts or (2) standards of review, burdens of proof, and presumptions more generally.

First of all, the facts of the case are interesting/depressing in a soap opera kind of way.   The dispute is between two sons (William and John) regarding the estate of their deceased mother (Virginia).  The case is a bit complicated since it includes five wills: four testamentary wills and one guy named Will.  But we’ll just call him William, which means there are only four wills to deal with. It just makes things easier. Continue reading