Pursuant to RCW 4.12.010(1), an action for injuries to real property “shall be commenced in the county in which the subject of the action or some part thereof, is situated.” William Ralph and William Forth instituted actions in King County Superior Court against the Department of Natural Resources and other defendants for injuries to real property located in Lewis County. The trial court dismissed both cases without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

The Court of Appeals affirmed:

  • The nature of a claim for relief – for example, whether a cause is local in nature or transitory – is determined by the facts alleged in the complaint and as adduced thereunder and by the relief requested. Because the causes at issue were based on allegations of injury to land, they were local in nature, not transitory. Accordingly, RCW 4.12.010(1) applied.
  • Under Washington Supreme Court precedent, RCW 4.12.010 is a jurisdictional statute. Although other, more recent Washington Supreme Court cases interpret filing requirements similar to that set forth in RCW 4.12.010 as specifying venue, and it might be difficult to reconcile the reasoning in such cases with the Supreme Court’s earlier pronouncements on RCW 4.12.010, the Court of Appeals is not free to depart from binding precedent.

Read the October 15, 2012 decision