Back in 2011 Washington voters approved I-1183 to allow the sale of spirits (hard alcohol or liquor) by certain private enterprises, ending the state monopoly over retail liquor sales.  The initiative created multiple classes of spirits distribution privileges.  Distributors operating under a “spirits distributor license” enjoy the broadest grant of authority to distribute spirits.  Other businesses, such as in-state distillers, importers, and out-of-state distillers, were granted permission under their existing licenses also engage in distribution of their own products.

The initiative also created a scheme for raising revenues distribution license fees to fund Liquor Control Board programs  Part of this scheme (RCW 66.24.055(3)(c)) required “all persons holding distributor licenses” to make up the shortfall if distributor license fees did not generate $150 million in revenue.  The Liquor Control Board subsequently adopted regulations imposing licensing fees against all businesses engaged in spirits retail sales and distribution.  But instead of creating a scheme that required all businesses engaged in spirits distribution to make up the shortfall on a pro rata basis, the Board’s rules imposed that liability only on the class of businesses enjoying the broadest range of distribution rights – “persons holding a spirits distribution license.”Continue Reading This Round’s On You: Washington Supreme Court Upholds Liquor License Fee Shortfall Scheme

Brooks v. BPM Senior Living Co.

Court of Appeals Case No.:  69332-8-I

Supreme Court Case No.:  90220-8


  1. Whether an employer fulfills its duty to assist a disabled employee in seeking alternative employment in the company when the only ‘interaction’ with the employee is a single phrase in an e-mail stating the employer “would be

By Sook Kim

In Gomez v. Sauerwein, the Washington Supreme Court held that a medical negligence claim for misdiagnosis and a failure to obtain informed consent claim are mutually exclusive.  Justice Steven Gonzalez, joined by three other justices, concurred in the result but disagreed with the majority’s reasoning on this issue, arguing while alternative theories were inappropriate under the facts of this case, the claims are not always mutually exclusive.Continue Reading Wash. S. Ct.: Medical Misdiagnosis Claims Separate and Distinct from Informed Consent Claims

By Hunter Ferguson and Manmeet Dhami

When considering a parenting plan, trial courts start from the premise that it is ordinarily in a child’s best interest to alter the existing pattern of parent-child interactions only to the extent necessary because of the parents’ changed relationship from physical, mental, or emotional harm.  But, as is the case with most general rules and standards, there are exceptions.  Under section .191(3) of the Parenting Act of 1987, trial courts may impose limitations on parental contact to guard against “adverse effects” if they find the presence of certain enumerated factors or under a catchall provision, subsection (g).  In In re Marriage of Chandola, the Washington Supreme Court clarified that in order to impose limitations under the catchall provision, a trial court must find the presence of factors similar in severity to those enumerated in the statute – i.e., factors that present a relatively severe risk of physical, mental, or emotional harm to a child.Continue Reading Wash. S. Ct. Clarifies Standard for Imposing Limitations on Parenting Plans

The right to a unanimous jury verdict in a criminal case is not simply the right to be free from conviction unless all jurors vote guilty.  As the Washington Supreme Court recently explained, this right carries the requirement that the jury reach its decision only after all jurors have deliberated with one another on all aspects of the case.   

Continue Reading Wash. S. Ct.: Unanimous Jury Verdict Is All About the Deliberative Process

State v. Cates
Court of Appeals Case No.:  68759-0-I
Supreme Court Case No.:  89965-7

  1. A community corrections officer (CCO) may not search a probationer’s home or personal effects without a warrant unless the officer has reasonable cause to believe the probationer violated a condition of community custody or committed a crime.  Did the Court of Appeals err in affirming a community custody condition that requires Mr. Cates to “consent” to searches by his CCO, merely upon the CCO’s request, without specifying that the search must be based on reasonable cause?  Should this Court overrule State v. Massey, on which the Court of Appeals relied, which allows trial courts to impose community custody conditions that require probationers to submit to CCO searches without specifying that the search must be based on reasonable cause?  RAP 13.4(b)(4).

Continue Reading Petitions for Review – June 5, 2014

Washington’s vested rights doctrine guarantees that a land development proposal will be processed under the laws and regulations in effect at the time a complete permit application is filed.  In Town of Woodway v. Snohomish County, the Washington Supreme Court confirmed that the vested rights doctrine applies even where land use plans and development regulations are later found to be invalid.
Continue Reading Vested Developer Rights Can Survive Even When Land Use and Zoning Laws Are Later Found Invalid

From our colleague Karin Jones:

In State v. Sweat, the Washington Supreme Court held that a court may impose a sentence above the standard range for a domestic violence conviction where the defendant has engaged in a past pattern of abuse towards other individuals.Continue Reading Wash. S. Ct. Continues to Get Tough with Domestic Violence Offenders

In a case that emerged from tragic facts of a dogs killing weaker members of their pack and maiming a neighbor’s pet, the Washington Supreme Court issued two significant rulings concerning criminal sentencing last week. First, it unanimously ruled in State v. Deskins that district courts have broad discretion to impose conditions of probation. Second, in a 5-4 ruling, it clarified that evidentiary rules concerning hearsay do not apply to evidence of restitution amounts offered at sentencing hearings.


Pamela Deskins kept approximately 40 dogs in a fenced area on her property. These dogs were vicious toward one another, with some mauling and killing other members of the pack. They attacked and killed livestock on the property. And despite the fence, some attacked a pet dog off the property, inflicting serious injuries. The local sheriff later seized the remaining dogs, placing them in the custody of a local animal rescue.

Deskins was later found guilty of confining animals in an unsafe manner (a misdemeanor), among other charges. Twenty-two minutes after the jury rendered its verdict, the District Court commenced a sentencing hearing, denying Deskins’ request for a one-week continuance. Prepared for sentencing, the State presented statements from individuals who witnessed the dog attacks, the owners of the injured pet, and evidence of the State’s costs of caring for the seized dogs. The District Court sentenced Deskins to two years of probation (as well as a period of confinement), ordered her to pay restitution, and imposed two conditions on her probation: (1) it prohibited her from owning or living animals during her probation; and (2) it ordered to forfeit any remaining animals to the local sheriff, after allowing Deskins seven days to find any remaining animals new homes.

After both the Superior Court and the Court of Appeals reversed certain aspects of the District Court’s rulings, the Washington Supreme Court granted review of the two probation conditions and whether the short period between trial and sentencing and the resulting restitution order violated due process.Continue Reading District Courts Have Broad Discretion In Setting Probation Conditions: Wash. C. Ct.

From our colleague, Daniel Lee:

In PT Air Watchers v. Wash. Dep’t of Ecology, the Washington Supreme Court unanimously upheld Ecology’s decision not to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) for an energy cogeneration project. The project, proposed by the Port Townsend Paper Corporation, would increase

[Note: This post was drafted by Litigation Partner Vanessa Power]

In Ellensburg Cement Products v. Kittitas County, et al., the Washington Supreme Court in an en banc ruling held that when a county provides a procedure for appealing a determination under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), the county must provide at least one open record hearing. The Court rejected Kittitas County’s argument that it could create its own proceeding, or interpret SEPA to provide no open record hearing.

An individual landowner, Homer Gibson, applied to Kittitas County to amend a prior Conditional Use Permit (CUP) that would allow him to conduct rock crushing in addition to gravel extraction on his land. Based on the original CUP, Gibson had previously received a gravel extraction permit from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In seeking to amend the CUP, Gibson suggested that the CUP was not limited to a 13.4 acre parcel, but applied to all 84 acres of his land. Gibson also submitted to Kittitas County an altered SEPA checklist that referred to a mining area greater than that permitted by DNR. Ellensburg Cement objected to Gibson’s application and noted the discrepancies.Continue Reading Statutory Interpretation Based On Plain Language Does Not Stop With “Literal, Word-By-Word Interpretation Bereft of Context”