WA Legal Roundup: Division II
Whoo hoo… an opinion in favor of “the little guy” and in my favorite field to boot, PI. Finally something more fun than taxes, crimes, and more taxes in Division II. (Sorry all you lovers of tax).
Gates slipped and fell on some stairs while she was viewing a rental property owned by the Port injuring her head and neck. She sent a letter to the Port describing the occurrence as the instructions in a letter sent to her had required. She signed the letter but did not verify. She hired an attorney who had some communication with the Port, but after settlement was not reached, filed a lawsuit against them within the statute. The Port answered that Gates failed to comply with the claim filing statute (RCW 4.96.020) because Gates failed to verify her claim. The Port appeals from the trial court’s denial of their summary judgment on that basis.
Gates argues, and this Court agrees, that the RCW listed above does not require claim verification. The court ruled that the plain language of the statue did not require claim verification but required only that, “claims… must locate and describe.” the relevant facts of the incident. The Court decided that the statute only mentioned verification of forms when it states, “if the claimant is incapacitated from verifying, presenting, and filing the claim in the time prescribed…”
Although the Court found that the statute’s plain language did not require claim verification they continued to justify their analysis by ruling that the legislative history confirms their interpretation of the statute. The court reviewed the 1993 amendment notes and analyzed that the legislature clearly departed from an intent to require verification.
I sure hope Gates requested attorneys fees! Great outcome in this case.