Crossroads Mgmt., LLC v. Ridgway (Majority)Annotate this Case
In Washington, a couple, the Lewises, moved into a rental property owned by another couple, the Ridgways. After the Lewises moved out, a dispute arose over the return of their security deposit. The Ridgways claimed the Lewises caused damage to the property and deducted repair costs from the deposit. The Lewises disputed these charges, and the case was sent to arbitration. During arbitration, the Lewises were awarded the full amount of their security deposit, but the Ridgways were given attorney fees under the small claims statute. The Lewises attempted to appeal the arbitration award and a pre-arbitration order granting partial summary judgment to the Ridgways. However, the Lewises did not personally sign their request for a trial de novo, a requirement under court rules and the arbitration statute.
The Washington Supreme Court held that the Lewises' request for a trial de novo was ineffective because they did not personally sign the request, as required by the court rule and the arbitration statute. The court also held that, absent a valid request for a trial de novo, the Lewises could not appeal the pre-arbitration order granting partial summary judgment to the Ridgways. The court further stated that the question of who should be considered the prevailing party for the purpose of any attorney fee award needed further consideration, and remanded the case back to the lower court for determination of attorney fees.