Tuesday, November 12, 2013
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Division One of the Court of Appeals filed 3 new published opinions on Tuesday, November 12, 2013:
1. Berryman v. Metcalf
(November 12, 2013)
2013 Wash. App. LEXIS 2630
PERSONAL INJURY AND INSURANCE LAW
Brief: The trial court approved as reasonable a total of 468.55 hours billed by two attorneys for taking a minor soft tissue injury case through a short trial de novo, where the defendant did not improve its position after a mandatory arbitration. The court then applied a multiplier of 2.0 because counsel, working on a contingent fee arrangement, substantially risked receiving no compensation or inadequate compensation. Under the circumstances of this unexceptional case, the fee award of nearly $292,000 was an abuse of discretion. The Court of Appeals reverses the award of attorney fees and remands for meaningful consideration of what constitutes a reasonable fee. However, the Court of Appeals finds no abuse of discretion in the trial court's evidentiary rulings and consequently holds that the defendant is not entitled to a new trial.
2. Johnson v. Dep’t of Transp.
2013 Wash. App. LEXIS 2629
Brief: The plaintiff accepted a CR 68 offer of judgment presented by the defendant, settling her claim against the defendant for violations of the Washington Law Against Discrimination. After accepting the offer, the plaintiff petitioned the trial court for an award of attorney fees and costs pursuant to the agreement. The trial court awarded attorney fees and costs to the plaintiff but first deducted time spent on the plaintiff's unsuccessful administrative claim, time spent and costs accrued after the date of the offer, reconstructed hours, and amounts billed by the plaintiff’s psychologist for time spent on litigation-related matters. The Court of Appeals affirms, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by excluding the aforementioned fees and costs.
3. Quellos Grp., LLC v. Fed. Ins. Co.
2013 Wash. App. LEXIS 2626
Areas: PERSONAL INJURY AND INSURANCE LAW
Brief: The Court of Appeals affirms the summary judgment dismissal of the insured’s lawsuit against the excess insurance carriers, which was based on the insured’s failure to exhaust the underlying insurance coverage, because the plain and unambiguous language of the excess insurance policies required exhaustion of the underlying liability limits by actual payment by the insurer before excess coverage was triggered, and there was no dispute that the underlying insurers did not pay policy limits.
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