Washington Supreme Court

In Stratford v. Umpqua Bank, No. 100717-5 (Sept. 14, 2023) (slip op.), the Washington Supreme Court rejected the application of the “apex doctrine” in Washington. The apex doctrine has been adopted by some jurisdictions to shield high-level executives and officials from being deposed.  See, e.g., Robinett v. Opus Bank, No. C12-1755MJP, 2013 WL 5850873, at *5 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 30, 2013) (citing Salter v. Upjohn Co., 593 F.2d 649, 651 (5th Cir. 1979)). In this case, Defendant Umpqua Bank argued that Washington should adopt a specific application of the apex doctrine, where a party seeking to depose a high-level officer must first show that: (1) the witness has unique, non-repetitive, firsthand knowledge of the facts at issue in the case, and (2) other less intrusive means of discovery, such as interrogatories and depositions of other employees, have been exhausted without success. Stratford, slip op. at 10.  The Washington Supreme Court rejected both this specific application and the doctrine more generally. Continue Reading Washington Supreme Court Unanimously Rejects the Apex Doctrine

In Worthington v. WestNET, No. 90037-0, the Washington Supreme Court considered the applicability of the Public Records Act (PRA), chapter 42.56 RCW, to a multiagency drug task force formed by several Washington municipalities and the federal Naval Criminal Investigation Service.  Pursuant to Interlocal Cooperation Act (ICA), Chapter 39.34 RCW, the task force was not

In Utter v. BIAW, No. 89462-1, the Washington Supreme Court  reinstated the lawsuit by two retired Justices against the Building Industry Association of Washington.  The lawsuit alleged that BIAW violated the Washington’s Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA), by failing to register as a political committee  during the 2007-2008 Gubernatorial campaign.  BIAW, a non-profit, formed

In Henne v. City of Yakima, No. 89674-7, the Washington Supreme Court concluded that the city of Yakima could not bring a motion to strike a police officer’s lawsuit against the city under the state anti-SLAPP statute, RCW 4.24.510.  The officer sued Yakima for negligent hiring, training and supervision of  his coworkers who, he

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

In Durland v. San Juan County (No. 82293-8 & No. 89745-0) the Washington Supreme Court rejected a neighbor’s untimely Land Use Petition Act (LUPA) challenge of San Juan County’s permit to build an oversize garage.  The neighbor received no actual or constructive notice of the permit’s issuance and missed the LUPA challenge deadline.  The Washington

In Riverview Community Group v. Spencer & Livingstone,  NO. 88575-3, the Washington Supreme Court held that an equitable servitude may arise by implication.  The developer of a golf course complex and surrounding residential lots built in the 1980s sought to close down the golf complex and to plat the course into new residential lots.  

In LaCoursiere v. Camwest Development, Inc., No. 88298-3, the  Washington Supreme Court  construed the  Washington wage rebate act,  chapter 49.52 RCW (“WRA”).  CamWest paid the plaintiff, a former manager, several bonuses during his employment.  Pursuant to his employment agreement, a portion of plaintiff’s bonus was directly invested in a related  LLC that was established