25
Apr

Jim Savitt testified as an expert witness in the case of the United States v. Troy X. Kelley, Washington’s State Auditor who was accused of theft and money laundering. Mr. Savitt’s testimony, on behalf of the defense, addressed the interpretation and ambiguity of the contracts central to the prosecution’s case. On April 26, 2016 the jury returned an acquittal on one count and hung on the remainder. The jury foreman noted his view that “The ...

28
Mar

To what extent does the attorney-client privilege[1] exempt from disclosure under Washington’s Public Records Act[2] billing statements submitted to government agencies by outside litigation counsel? The privilege protects “communications incident to the giving and receiving of legal advice, and incident to the representation of the client’s legal interests.”[3] This includes attorney-client communications about relevant facts. As the Washington Supreme Court has noted, “‘[a] fact is one thing and a communication concerning that fact ...

23
Nov

There are many reasons an employer may want to require arbitration of disputes with its employees. Arbitration can be (but is not always) less expensive than court litigation; arbitrations are not public and are often confidential; and an arbitration agreement can, when combined with a class-action waiver, effectively preclude employee class actions where the claims are not small. Earlier this month, the Washington Court of Appeals confirmed an employer’s right to require its employees to sign an arbitration ...

09
Oct

A waiver of the right to bring a class action is enforceable as part of an arbitration agreement, and a state law rule to the contrary is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. §1, et seq.[1] The FAA does not, however, preclude a rule barring contractual waiver of a representative action that does not use a class procedure, according to a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit, Sakkab v. Luxottica Retail North America, Inc.[2] In ...

02
Oct

Earlier this summer, our blog discussed a recent Ninth Circuit decision in which the court appeared to take a more liberal approach to removal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”). Recently, the Ninth Circuit focused on the purpose of CAFA’s local-controversy exception to reinforce a key yet narrow limit on federal jurisdiction under CAFA.[1] Congress enacted CAFA in 2005 to curb perceived abuses of the class-action device by vesting federal courts with ...

01
Sep

The nature and scope of consumer protection statutes vary by state. Depending upon the circumstances of a given case, a plaintiff may find one state’s statute to be preferable to that of another and may therefore seek to file suit in a state other than the one in which he or she resides. In Washington, however, the ability of out-of-state plaintiffs to file claims under Washington’s Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”) may soon be limited. In Thornell ...

17
Jul

Typically, a defendant facing a lawsuit in state court must decide quickly whether to remove the action to federal court. Although there are various grounds to support removal, federal law requires the party seeking removal to do so within 30 days of receiving the initial pleading or “an amended pleading, motion, order, or other paper” from which it may first be ascertained that the case is removable.[1] Most often, this means that the defendant must ...

13
Apr

Previously on this blog, I discussed the lawsuit filed by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams against the heirs to the estate of Marvin Gaye. In the lawsuit, Thicke and Williams sought a declaratory judgment that their hit song, Blurred Lines, did not infringe upon Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give it Up. As I then noted, by seeking a declaratory judgment rather than waiting for the heirs ...

11
Feb

Where individuals’ claims are so similar that they can be adjudicated through a single action, suit may be brought as a class action under CR 23.  Among other things, CR 23 has procedural safeguards designed to protect the interests both of unnamed class members who do not participate directly in the lawsuit and of defendants.  But a recent decision by the Washington Supreme Court in Riverview Community Group v. Spencer & Livingston[1] arguably undermines CR 23 by allowing ...

01
Dec

PART 2 In an earlier post, I explained that in Washington the attorney-client privilege held by corporations protects communications between corporate counsel and lower-level corporate employees, with some exceptions.  Does this also rule protect communications between counsel for government agencies and lower-level government employees?  Although there does not appear to be a published Washington case on point, the answer is very likely yes. Washington law is clear that the attorney-client privilege, codified at RCW 5.60.060(2), protects communications between the legal advisors ...