Washington Supreme Court Decisions 2020

State Of Washington V. Karl Emerson Pierce, Et Al. (Majority)
Date: December 29, 2020
Docket Number: 96344-4
Washington v. Batson (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: December 24, 2020
Docket Number: 97617-1

Justia Opinion Summary: The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review centered on whether the state legislature could impose a duty to register as a sex offender in Washington where an individual would be required to…

In re Dependency of A.L.K., L.R.C.K.-S., D.B.C.K.-S. (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: December 24, 2020
Docket Number: 98487-5

Justia Opinion Summary: Two of L.K.’s three children were Indian children for the purposes of federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) and Washington State Indian Child Welfare Act (WICWA). L.K. claimed the State Department of Children,…

McLaughlin v. Travelers Commercial Ins. Co. (Majority, Concurrence and Dissent)  
Date: December 10, 2020
Docket Number: 97652-0

Justia Opinion Summary: Todd McLaughlin was riding his bicycle on a Seattle street when the door of a parked vehicle opened right into him. McLaughlin fell, suffered injuries, and sought insurance coverage for various losses, including his…

In re Recall of Durkan (Majority)  
Date: December 10, 2020
Docket Number: 98897-8

Justia Opinion Summary: This case involved cross appeals regarding a petition to recall Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan based on events that occurred at protests following the killing of George Floyd. The recall petition alleged Mayor Durkan failed…

Washington v. Martinez (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: November 19, 2020
Docket Number: 97496-9

Justia Opinion Summary: Simon Martinez sexually abused his daughter, Y.M., for nearly a decade, starting when she was about 5 years old. Martinez raped and sexually abused Y.M. regularly until she moved out of the family home in 2014, when she…

Gronquist v. Dep't of Corrections (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: November 12, 2020
Docket Number: 97277-0

Justia Opinion Summary: At issue before the Washington Supreme Court in this matter was whether trial courts had discretion to impose remedial sanctions under RCW 7.21.030(3) in the absence of ongoing, continuing contempt. Derek Gronquist was…

Hermanson v. Multicare Health Sys., Inc. (Majority, Concurrence and Dissent)  
Date: November 12, 2020
Docket Number: 97783-6

Justia Opinion Summary: The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review related to the boundaries of the corporate attorney-client privilege and how it operated when in conflict with a plaintiff’s physician-patient…

Martinez-Cuevas v. DeRuyter Bros. Dairy, Inc. (Majority, Concurrence and Dissent)  
Date: November 5, 2020
Docket Number: 96267-7

Justia Opinion Summary: This case concerned the constitutionality of RCW 49.46.130(2)(g), the provision exempting agricultural workers from the overtime pay requirement set out in the Washington Minimum Wage Act, ch. 49.46 RCW. Jose…

In re Recall of White (Majority)  
Date: October 29, 2020
Docket Number: 98663-1

Justia Opinion Summary: A trial court dismissed a recall petition filed against city of Yakima District 2 Councilman Jason White, wherein he purportedly committed acts of misfeasance and malfeasance, and violated his oath of office by using his…

In re Dependency of A.M.-S. (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: October 22, 2020
Docket Number: 98094-2

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2018, a dependency petition was filed alleging that A.M.-S' father had physically abused the child. Although the father denied the allegations against him, he stipulated to a finding of dependency “given the nature of…

Reykdal v. Espinoza (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: October 22, 2020
Docket Number: 98731-9

Justia Opinion Summary: Incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal sued to have the Thurston County Superior Court order the removal of one allegedly defamatory line in the voters’ guide pamphlet from challenger Maia…

Ronald Wastewater Dist. v. Olympic View Water& Sewer Dist. (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: October 15, 2020
Docket Number: 97599-0

Justia Opinion Summary: This case involved a dispute over control of sewerage service to Point Wells, located just north of the King County, Washington border, within the boundaries of Snohomish County and Olympic View Water and Sewer District…

Garfield Cty. Transp. Auth. v. Washington (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: October 15, 2020
Docket Number: 98320-8

Justia Opinion Summary: Initiative Measure 976 (I-976) was the latest in a series of initiatives about reducing or eliminating local motor vehicle excise taxes, including taxes that have been pledged to support major transportation projects in…

In re Pers. Restraint of Knight (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: October 8, 2020
Docket Number: 97066-1

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2010, Amanda Knight and accomplices ransacked James and Charlene Sanders’ home, zip-tied them, placed them face down on the floor, stole their wedding rings off their fingers at gunpoint, pistol-whipped Charlene and…

Young v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: September 24, 2020
Docket Number: 97576-1

Justia Opinion Summary: Duane Young bought a new 2014 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck with a limited package of additional features from a dealership in Burlington, Washington. Young paid about $36,000 for the truck. At the time Young was…

In re Pers. Restraint of Cranshaw (Majority)  
Date: September 24, 2020
Docket Number: 97778-0

Justia Opinion Summary: A jury found Ira Cranshaw guilty of several crimes committed against two victims. The convictions included attempted first degree murder of B.B. (count I), three counts of first degree rape of B.B. (counts II, III, and…

In re Dependency of Z.J.G. (Majority)
Date: September 18, 2020
Docket Number: 98003-9
Borton & Sons, Inc. v. Burbank Properties, LLC (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: September 10, 2020
Docket Number: 97690-2

Justia Opinion Summary: When a lessee does not timely exercise an option contained in a lease agreement, special circumstances may warrant granting them extra time to exercise the option. In this case, petitioner Burbank Properties LLC mailed…

In re Dependency of Z.J.G. (Majority)  
Date: September 3, 2020
Docket Number: 98003-9

Justia Opinion Summary: The "[Indian Child Welfare Act] ICWA and [Washington State Indian Child Welfare Act] WICWA were enacted to remedy the historical and persistent state-sponsored destruction of Native families and communities. . . . The…

Burgess v. Lithia Motors, Inc. (Majority)  
Date: September 3, 2020
Docket Number: 98083-7

Justia Opinion Summary: Evette Burgess and Lithia Motors, Inc. entered into arbitration to resolve an employment dispute. During arbitration proceedings, Burgess filed a motion with the court to terminate arbitration, alleging that Lithia and…

Gerlach v. The Cove Apartments, LLC (Majority, Concurrence and Dissent)  
Date: August 27, 2020
Docket Number: 97325-3

Justia Opinion Summary: After a night of drinking with friends, Kimberly Gerlach fell from the second-story balcony of her boyfriend’s unit at the Cove Apartments when the railing gave way. Gerlach sued, arguing Cove’s failure to repair the…

Burnett v. Pagliacci Pizza, Inc. (Majority)  
Date: August 20, 2020
Docket Number: 97429-2

Justia Opinion Summary: Pagliacci Pizza hired Steven Burnett as a delivery driver. Steven Burnett attended a mandatory new employee orientation at a local Pagliacci Pizza. During the orientation, Pagliacci gave Burnett multiple forms and told…

Washington v. Loughbom (Majority)  
Date: August 20, 2020
Docket Number: 97443-8

Justia Opinion Summary: In May 2017, petitioner Gregg Loughbom was charged with three counts of various drug crimes: count I, delivery of controlled substances acetaminophen and hydrocodone; count II, delivery of controlled substance…

Spokane County v. Washington (Majority)  
Date: August 20, 2020
Docket Number: 97739-9

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2018, the Washington legislature enacted Substitute House Bill 2887 (SHB 2887), requiring noncharter counties with populations of 400,000 or more to elect five county commissioners by 2022, when originally such…

In re Welfare of D.E. (Majority)  
Date: August 20, 2020
Docket Number: 98043-8

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2018, the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families (Department) moved to terminate J.J.'s parental rights to her three children. After closing arguments, the trial court orally ruled that the Department…

Wash. State Nurses Ass'n v. Cmty. Health Sys., Inc. (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: August 13, 2020
Docket Number: 97532-9

Justia Opinion Summary: Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) sought damages on behalf of its member nurses for unpaid working hours, overtime hours, and missed meal periods. The issue this appeal presented for the Washington Supreme…

Peacehealth St. Joseph Med. Ctr. v. Dep't of Revenue (Majority)  
Date: August 6, 2020
Docket Number: 97557-4

Justia Opinion Summary: Petitioners PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center and PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center (PeaceHealth) argued that, under RCW 82.04.4311’s plain language, qualifying Washington hospitals were entitled to a business and…

Ctr. for Envtl. Law & Policy v. Dep't of Ecology (Majority)  
Date: August 6, 2020
Docket Number: 97684-8

Justia Opinion Summary: The Spokane River originates at the outlet of Coeur d’Alene Lake in Idaho and flows west for approximately 111 miles to the Columbia River in eastern Washington. Flows in the river have been declining due to increased…

In re Welfare of M.B. (Majority)  
Date: July 23, 2020
Docket Number: 97731-3

Justia Opinion Summary: The juvenile court terminated N.B.’s parental rights to his son, M.B., while N.B. was incarcerated. N.B. made clear that he strongly desired to participate in the termination trial by phone or in person. Despite this,…

Colvin v. Inslee (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: July 23, 2020
Docket Number: 98317-8

Justia Opinion Summary: This matter came before the Washington Supreme Court on a petition for a writ of mandamus from five inmates serving criminal sentences at different Washington Department of Corrections (Department) facilities. The…

Washington v. Jackson (Majority)  
Date: July 16, 2020
Docket Number: 97681-3

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2017, John Jackson Sr. was charged with assault in the second degree, domestic violence, for strangling his fiancee. At every court appearance, Jackson was forced to wear some form of restraints pursuant to jail…

Magney v. Pham (Majority, Concurrence and Dissent)  
Date: July 2, 2020
Docket Number: 96669-9

Justia Opinion Summary: The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review centered on whether petitioners-parents waived the marital counseling privilege when they filed a claim for damages against the doctors who treated…

Confederated Tribes & Bands of the Yakama Nation v. Yakima County (Majority)  
Date: July 2, 2020
Docket Number: 97910-3

Justia Opinion Summary: Granite Northwest sought to expand its mining operations in Yakima County, Washington. The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation (Yakama) opposed the expansion, arguing it would disturb ancient burial…

Davison v. Washington (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: June 25, 2020
Docket Number: 96766-1

Justia Opinion Summary: The plaintiff class in this case sued the State of Washington and the Office of Public Defense (OPD), alleging ongoing violations of the right to counsel in Grays Harbor County Juvenile Court. They premised state…

Lakehaven Water & Sewer Dist. v. City of Federal Way (Majority, Dissent and Concurrence/Dissent)  
Date: June 18, 2020
Docket Number: 96585-4

Justia Opinion Summary: The city of Federal Way (City) is a noncharter code city incorporated under Title 35A RCW. To address a budget deficit, the City identified and implemented cost-saving measures, but the spending cuts did not close the…

W.H. v. Olympia School Dist. (Majority)  
Date: June 18, 2020
Docket Number: 97630-9

Justia Opinion Summary: The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington certified two questions to the Washington Supreme Court in connection with the meaning of the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), chapter…

Lee v. Evergreen Hosp. Med. Ctr. (Majority)  
Date: June 4, 2020
Docket Number: 97201-0

Justia Opinion Summary: Jeoung Lee filed a putative class action lawsuit against her former employer, King County Public Hospital District No. 2 d/b/a Evergreen Hospital Medical Center1 (Evergreen). Lee alleged Evergreen failed to give rest and…

In re Parental Rights to D.H. (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: June 4, 2020
Docket Number: 97311-3

Justia Opinion Summary: The issue case raised centered whether the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (Department) fulfilled its statutory obligation under RCW 13.34.180(1)(d) to provide a mother necessary services before…

Plein v. USAA Cas. Ins. Co. (Majority)  
Date: May 21, 2020
Docket Number: 97563-9

Justia Opinion Summary: Richard and Debra Plein sued USAA Casualty Insurance Company, alleging insurance bad faith. The Pleins hired three attorneys, two of whom were members of the Keller Rohrback LLP lawfirm (Keller), to represent them. But…

In re Estate of Petelle (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: May 14, 2020
Docket Number: 97463-2

Justia Opinion Summary: After six years of marriage, Michael Petelle filed a petition to dissolve his marriage to petitioner, Michelle Ersfeld-Petelle, having separated on January 27, 2017. The parties, both represented by counsel, executed a…

Robbins v. Mason County Title Ins. Co. (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: May 7, 2020
Docket Number: 96726-1

Justia Opinion Summary: In 1854, the Washington Territory and nine Native American tribes, including the Squaxin Island Tribe (the Tribe), entered into the 1854 Treaty of Medicine Creek (the Treaty), under which the Tribe relinquished their…

Denney v. City of Richland (Majority)  
Date: May 7, 2020
Docket Number: 97494-2

Justia Opinion Summary: Christopher Denney, a firefighter, sued the city of Richland, Washington in 2017. He argued the city violated the Public Records Act by withholding two investigative complaints Denney made about on-the-job harassment and…

Washington v. Davis (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: April 30, 2020
Docket Number: 96663-0

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2014, Keith Davis was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle. A month later, he was arrested again for possession of a different stolen vehicle; crack cocaine was discovered on Davis' person in a search incident…

Washington v. Van Wolvelaere (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: April 30, 2020
Docket Number: 97283-4

Justia Opinion Summary: Julia Tucker stole a snowmobile and was convicted of theft of a motor vehicle. On appeal, she argued a snowmobile was not a motor vehicle under the relevant statute, RCW 9A.56.065. The Washington Supreme Court found…

Washington v. Escalante (Majority)  
Date: April 23, 2020
Docket Number: 97268-1

Justia Opinion Summary: Alejandro Escalante was detained for hours in a secured area at a border crossing and, the State conceded, interrogated by federal agents without Miranda warnings. Statements he made during that interrogation were used…

Washington v. Haggard (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: April 23, 2020
Docket Number: 97375-0

Justia Opinion Summary: A class C felony "washes out" and is omitted from a defendant’s offender score as long as he or she is not convicted of any crime within five years of the last date of release from confinement. David Haggard was…

Washington v. Grocery Mfrs. Ass'n (Majority, Concurrence and Dissent)  
Date: April 16, 2020
Docket Number: 96604-4

Justia Opinion Summary: In November 2013, Washington voters rejected Initiative 522 (I-522), which would have required labels on packaged foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)…

Washington v. Cyr (Majority)  
Date: April 16, 2020
Docket Number: 97323-7

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2017, petitioner Johnny Ray Cyr pleaded guilty to three counts of sale of a controlled substance (heroin) for profit. Cyr stipulated to his prior convictions and to his offender score of 5. Based on his convictions…

Peterson v. Dep't of Revenue (Majority)  
Date: April 16, 2020
Docket Number: 97410-1

Justia Opinion Summary: More than 70 years ago, two railroad companies helped the United States Atomic Energy Commission build a track to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in return for the right to use the track without paying rent. After the…

In Re John Rolfing Muenster, Lawyer (bar No. 6237) (Majority)
Date: April 9, 2020
Docket Number: 201,872-6
Rocha v. King County (Majority, Dissent and Concurrence/Dissent)  
Date: April 9, 2020
Docket Number: 96990-6

Justia Opinion Summary: This case involved claims against King County, Washington regarding jury selection and compensation. In 2016, petitioners filed a class action complaint in Pierce County, Washington Superior Court. They contended: (1)…

Ehrhart v. King County (Majority)  
Date: April 2, 2020
Docket Number: 96464-5

Justia Opinion Summary: Brian Ehrhart died within days of contracting hantavirus near his Issaquah, Washington home in early 2017. His widow, Sandra Ehrhart, sued King County’s public health department, Swedish Medical Center, and an emergency…

Fireside Bank v. Askins (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: March 26, 2020
Docket Number: 96853-5

Justia Opinion Summary: In August 2004, the Askinses purchased a used car by entering into a retail installment contract with East Sprague Motors & R.V.'s, Inc. for $13,713.44 at an interest rate of 18.95% per year. The contract was…

Washington v. Whitaker (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: March 19, 2020
Docket Number: 96777-6

Justia Opinion Summary: John Whitaker was convicted of aggravated first degree murder based on the aggravating circumstance that the murder was committed in the course of a kidnapping. He unsuccessfully sought to argue to the jury that he…

Judges of Benton and Franklin Counties v. Killian (Majority)  
Date: March 19, 2020
Docket Number: 96821-7

Justia Opinion Summary: The judges of Benton and Franklin Counties (Washington) superior court issued local rules ordering the county clerk to maintain paper files of court documents. Believing electronic files were preferable, Michael Killian,…

Washington v. Karpov (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: February 27, 2020
Docket Number: 95080-6

Justia Opinion Summary: The district court dismissed the criminal case against Mikhail Karpov on the ground that the State had failed to prove jurisdiction. Karpov was tried in the district court of Spokane County, Washington for five counts of…

Phongmanivan v. Haynes (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: February 27, 2020
Docket Number: 96980-9

Justia Opinion Summary: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of law to the Washington Supreme Court. In 2011, Phonsavanh Phongmanivan was convicted of two counts of first degree assault with two firearm enhancements, and he…

Washington v. Hugdahl (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: February 27, 2020
Docket Number: 97148-0

Justia Opinion Summary: In January 2017, petitioner Jamie Hugdahl was the target of two controlled drug buys executed by a confidential informant in the vicinity of a Safeway parking lot in Ellensburg, Washington. Hugdahl was subsequently…

Washington v. Grott (Majority)  
Date: February 20, 2020
Docket Number: 97183-8

Justia Opinion Summary: Respondent Robert Grott was put on trial for a shooting incident in which he claimed he acted in self-defense. He appealed to the Washington Supreme Court contending the trial court erred in instructing his jury that…

Black v. Cent. Puget Sound Reg'l Transit Auth. (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: February 13, 2020
Docket Number: 97195-1

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2015, the Washington legislature enacted RCW 81.104.160(1) (MVET statute) authorizing Sound Transit to use two separate depreciation schedules to calculate motor vehicle excise taxes (MVET). Under the statute, Sound…

Washington v. Yishmael (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: February 6, 2020
Docket Number: 96775-0

Justia Opinion Summary: Naziyr Yishmael, who was not an attorney, advised clients that they could "homestead" in apparently abandoned properties and, after a period of time, acquire title through adverse possession. After some of his clients…

Washington v. Delbosque (Majority)  
Date: January 30, 2020
Docket Number: 96709-1

Justia Opinion Summary: In 1994, 17-year-old Cristian J. Delbosque was convicted of aggravated first degree murder and received a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of release. Because he was a juvenile at the time of his offense,…

Washington v. Nickels (Majority, Concurrence and Concurrence/Dissent)  
Date: January 30, 2020
Docket Number: 96943-4

Justia Opinion Summary: The State charged David Nickels with first degree murder in 2010 in Grant County, Washington. Though represented by counsel. Nickels acquired additional legal assistance from a local criminal defense attorney, Garth…

Wrigley v. Washington (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: January 23, 2020
Docket Number: 96830-6

Justia Opinion Summary: Jessica Wrigley brought a negligent investigation claim against the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) based on the placement of her son, A.A., with his biological father, Anthony Viles, during…

Washington v. Brooks (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: January 23, 2020
Docket Number: 97150-1

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant Kenneth Brooks was a friend of fifteen-year-old C.H.’s brother. On the evening of August 16 2014, C.H., her sister, and Brooks played games while drinking beer and vodka into the morning of August 17. C.H.…

Ass'n of Wash. Bus. v. Dep't of Ecology (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: January 16, 2020
Docket Number: 95885-8

Justia Opinion Summary: At issue was the promulgation of a novel rule by the Washington Department of Ecology addressing climate change. Specifically, the Washington Supreme Court was asked to determine whether the Washington Clean Air Act…

Lowe's Home Ctrs., LLC v. Dep't of Revenue (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: January 16, 2020
Docket Number: 96383-5

Justia Opinion Summary: Lowe's Home Centers sought reimbursement of state sales taxes and Business and Occupation ("B&O") taxes from the Washington Department of Revenue ("DOR") because it contracted with banks to offer private-label credit…

Washington v. Pierce (Majority, Concurrence and Dissent)  
Date: January 9, 2020
Docket Number: 96344-4

Justia Opinion Summary: Michael Biehoff and Karl Pierce were tried by jury and convicted of first degree murder. Before the Washington Supreme Court, they both contended (among other things) that their jury was not fairly selected because the…

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