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Issaquah Law Group: Experienced Counsel; Client Focus

PHILOSOPHY: Formed in 2014, Issaquah Law Group is a law firm with one focus: providing businesses and insurers with high quality legal representation with the responsiveness of a smaller firm. ILG was founded on the principle that strong client relationships are the key to successful legal representation and strong relationships are built upon clear and consistent communication. 

LITIGATION: We work closely with our clients to fully and accurately understand their goals, work collaboratively to formulate specific legal strategies, and execute the agreed plan of action utilizing methods most likely to result in the efficient and effective resolution of the matter. ILG attorneys have a broad base of litigation experience to draw on in all Federal and State courts from on-the-ground investigations to Supreme Court appeals in the areas of personal injury and wrongful death, product liability, commercial general liability, labor & employment, construction litigation, and catastrophic losses due to fire and explosion.

BUSINESS LAW: Rarely is the path from point A to point B a straight line, so our role in a business law practice is to find alternatives, devise workable strategies, and keep your business ideas, goals and objectives moving toward realization. ILG’s business attorneys help clients achieve their goals with respect to business formation, intellectual property, labor and employment, CAN-SPAM, copyright and trademark

COMMUNITY: In addition, the Lawyers at Issaquah Law Group remain active in the legal and civic community. A core commitment of our Issaquah Attorneys is community service. Our attorneys' civic involvement includes the King County Civil Rights Commission; the City of Issaquah Planning Policy Commission; the Northwest Screenwriters Guild, service as a pro tem judge. We live and work in the Pacific Northwest, and we aim to make it a better place.

In addition, through The Amateur Law Professor Blog and LinkedIn postings, we share pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Supreme Court, as well as the pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Courts of Appeal so that our clients can be as update to date on cutting legal issues as we are.

WA Legal Roundup - Washington State Supreme Court

Noble v. Safe Harbor Family Pres. Trust

Why, oh why, would the supreme court do this to me? A boring case this early on a day when I'd rather be working on a brief?

So basically party A needs access over a lot owned by B. B says, "Well, its not really a necessity, because you could also have asked for access over the lot owned by C." A decides to join C.

The trial court had party B pay the attorneys fees of party C, who was brought in wrongfully by A. Under a private condemnation action, party A has to pay the fees of party B (its only fair, you brought them in to take their land). The trial court reduced the award of attorneys fees paid to B by A by 70%, finding the bulk of attorneys fees incurred by B were in litigating against C.

So the analysis then. I suppose I should get to that. Not like we ever really did analysis in property class. We discussed feudalism a lot. I remember that much. At least there's a statute though, that saves me some reasoning. Did I mention I hate property?

Anyhow,  RCW 8.24.025 says that the judge must consider alternative routes. It also allows the court to award attorneys fees to the condemnee, but does not require it. Any award of fees is thus reviewed for abuse of discretion. Now, the statute on condemnation required the judge to consider alternative routes, but not necessarily to join the party owning the alternative route. C's involvement in the action was a result of A.

     Accordingly, we vacate the trial court's order awarding attorney fees to Tillicum against Safe Harbor, including those awarded to Tillicum on appeal. As to the second issue in this case, we affirm the trial court's order reducing Safe Harbor's attorney fees award against the Nobles. Under RCW 8.24.030, the trial court has discretion to determine what amount, if any, a condemnee receives in attorney fees from a condemnor. In doing so, a trial court may consider a condemnee's actions in light of the particular circumstances of each case. Here, the trial judge considered Safe Harbor's actions during the course of the case to increase the cost of litigation. In attempting to "balance the equities," the trial court concluded that Safe Harbor's award against the Nobles should be lessened by 70 percent. This is an appropriate exercise of the trial court's discretion.

Now here's the part I don't get, and don't agree with. The trial court found that the increase in Safe Harbor's fees (party B) was a result of litigation against Tillicum (party C), who was brought in by Nobles (party A). Seems to me Safe Harbor should be entitled to a full award here given the equities. Or at the very least, given the partial reversal, a redo as to the judge's logic so he can consider said fees in lieu of the holding.

The dissent would argue that the focus should not be on joinder when none is necessary, but rather the pragmatics of litigation (i.e. - B asserts a defense that C's route is better, pragmatically forcing A to join C).

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