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Litigation

HeadsUp for Washington State: Court Opinions From Thursday, September 17, 2015

Thursday, September 17, 2015

To view the full text of these opinions, please click here. Lexis.com® and Lexis Advance® subscribers may use the links below to access the cases on lexis.com and Lexis Advance.

The Supreme Court of Washington filed 6 new opinions and Division Three of the Court of Appeals filed no new opinions on Thursday, September 17, 2015:

Supreme Court:

1. Becker v. Cmty. Health Sys., Inc.
No. 90946-6            
(September 17, 2015)
2015 Wash. LEXIS 1046 (lexis.com)

2015 Wash. LEXIS 1046 (Lexis Advance)

Areas: EMPLOYMENT LAW; PERSONAL INJURY AND INSURANCE LAW

Brief: The mere adequacy, as opposed to exclusivity, of an alternative remedy does not defeat the tort of wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. Because the remedies under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act are nonexclusive and supplement rather than preclude state or federal remedies, the chief financial officer who was terminated from his employment could establish the jeopardy element of his claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy under Washington State law. The existence of a nonexclusive statutory remedy, regardless of its adequacy, did not preclude the chief financial officer from recovering on his state law tort claim.

2. Rickman v. Premera Blue Cross
No. 91040-5           
(September 17, 2015)
2015 Wash. LEXIS 1047 (lexis.com)

2015 Wash. LEXIS 1047 (Lexis Advance)

Areas: BUSINESS AND COMMERCIAL LAW; EMPLOYMENT LAW; GOVERNMENT RELATIONS AND ADMINISTRATIVE LAW

Brief: The mere adequacy, as opposed to exclusivity, of an alternative remedy does not defeat the tort of wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. Because the remedies under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and its Washington counterpart, the Uniform Health Care Information Act, are nonexclusive, the director of the insurer's subsidiary who was terminated from her employment could establish the jeopardy element of her claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. It remained to be determined whether the director could establish the "absence of justification" element of the cause of action.

3. Rose v. Anderson Hay & Grain Co.
No. 90975-0          
(September 17, 2015)
2015 Wash. LEXIS 1049 (lexis.com)

2015 Wash. LEXIS 1049 (Lexis Advance)

Areas: EMPLOYMENT LAW; GOVERNMENT RELATIONS AND ADMINISTRATIVE LAW

Brief: The mere adequacy, as opposed to exclusivity, of an alternative remedy does not defeat the tort of wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. Prior opinions to the contrary are abrogated to the extent that they require an analysis of the adequacy of alternative remedies. Because the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 explicitly provides that it does not preempt other available remedies, the truck driver who was terminated from his employment could establish the jeopardy element of his action for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy.

4. State v. Beaver
No. 91112-6             
(September 17, 2015)
2015 Wash. LEXIS 1050 (lexis.com)

2015 Wash. LEXIS 1050 (Lexis Advance)

Areas: CRIMINAL LAW

Brief: Even though a constitutional challenge was moot since the acquittee had already been discharged, the issue was considered on its merits due to a continuing and substantial public interest. The statutory mechanism under ch. 10.77 RCW to revoke an acquittee's conditional release satisfied substantive and procedural due process. The trial court was not required to make a finding of current mental illness at a conditional release hearing because, during conditional release, the acquittee was presumed insane. The presumption of insanity began when the defendant was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and it continued it was proven otherwise. If the acquittee's mental health recovered, there were periodic examinations of the acquittee's mental health, as well as mechanisms by which the acquittee could petition for a final discharge.

5. State v. Carson
No. 90308-5             
(September 17, 2015)
2015 Wash. LEXIS 1051 (lexis.com)

2015 Wash. LEXIS 1051 (Lexis Advance)

Areas: CRIMINAL LAW

Brief: Defendant's convictions for three counts of child molestation in the first degree were proper because he failed to prove that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel in that he failed to establish either deficient performance or prejudice. Defense counsel did not perform deficiently because his objection to the State's proposed Petrich instruction was a reasonable trial tactic with the legitimate goal of avoiding jury confusion and that objection was both tactically and strategically reasonable. Given the State's clear election of three acts in its closing argument, defendant was not prejudiced by the absence of a Petrich instruction. By specifying exactly three instances of sexual misconduct and disclaiming the State's intention to rely on other acts, the State effectively elected the acts on which the State sought a conviction.

6. State v. Ozuna
No. 90666-1            
(September 17, 2015)
2015 Wash. LEXIS 1048 (lexis.com)

2015 Wash. LEXIS 1048 (Lexis Advance)

Areas: CRIMINAL LAW

Brief: Evidence was sufficient to support the conviction of intimidating a witness under RCW 9A.72.110 because the evidence proved that defendant directed a threat to the alleged victim or a third party. A person may "direct a threat" under the intimidation of a former witness statute without that threat being communicated to the threat's target, i.e., the threat may be transmitted to a third party. 

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