Washington Supreme Court Decisions 2020

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 ground...

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 liabili...

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 de...

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 termi...

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 K...

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 s...

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 rig...

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 snow...

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 b...

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 convicte...

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) oppose...

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 an...

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 nu...

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) th...

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 contemporan...

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 commi...

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 w...

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 charg...

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 Gro...

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 T...

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 we...

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 Dano...

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 de...

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. beca...

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 gran...

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 car...

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 S...

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