WA Legal Roundup
Two new opinions out of the Washington Supreme Court:
Turns out the insurance companies are asserting their subrogation interests through a collection agency. Now, as you may have noticed, insurance companies aren't the most scrupulous of entities. Compared to collections agencies, insurance companies may as well be Mother Theresa herself. So basically, Farmers vis a vis the collection agencies was getting $$ it may not have been entitled to and doing so by threatening the bejeezus out of these people.
The collection agency (CCS) tried to argue there was no standing because this was not "consumer oriented". However, the weight of authority includes public interest as enough for standing, the court smacked it down as a sixth requirement that it wasn't going to add to the five already required under the act. The violation focuses on injuries in the conduct of trade or commerce, which was allegedly occurring here.
The meatier issue here was whether, as a matter of law, the collection agency's tactics were unfair or deceptive:
The Court of Appeals reasoned the notices were deceptive because they look like debt collection notices and may induce people to remand payment in the mistaken belief they have a legal obligation to do so when in fact the notices represent nothing more than an unadjudicated claim for tort damages. The language in the collection notices has the capacity to deceive a substantial portion of the public because they are representative of other notices sent to thousands of Washington citizens.
. . .
The FTC and federal courts consistently condemn attempts to collect alleged debts under the deceptive guise of a demand letter from a collection agency that either does not, in fact, exist, or is controlled by the person seeking payment of the debt at issue.
The injury? Having to take the time to investigate the improper "debts".
This is a big win for consumer protection advocates.
Depaz argues that his child rape conviction shouldn't stand because the judge dismissed a deadlocked jury. However, the dismissed juror was dismissed due to a third party conversation and not for simply being deadlocked. The court refused to extend the rule to dismissal of holdout jurors to any situation in which a juror was a holdout and dismissed. That said, the judge did abuse discretion in dismissing the juror, who admitted to a third party conversation in which she said to her husband that the case was circumstantial and she was the holdout. Her husband simply told her to stick to what she believed in, did not know what the case was about, and did not know any of the evidence. As such, it was an abuse of discretion to boot the juror; the State needed to show prejudice.