WA Legal Roundup: Division I
Blair v. TravelCenters of America Maureen Blair, a commercial truck driver, was injured when she slipped in a puddle of gasoline at a truck stop and fell. She filed a lawsuit against the operator of the truck stop. In the King County Superior Court (like many other courts), a case schedule was issued, which required Ms. Blair to disclose witnesses by a certain deadline. She failed to do so prior to the deadline, but later disclosed witnesses without disclosing all the information required by the court rules.
The defendant asked the trial court to strike all of the previously undisclosed witnesses, which the court did. One of the struck witnesses was a physician and was the only witness competent to testify about the causal relationship between the fall and the injury as well as the reasonableness and necessity of the treatment Ms. Blair received. Since that expert was OUT, the trial court said there was a lack of evidence to allow the case to go forward and summarily dismissed.
The Court of Appeals effectively said that rules without consequences for breaking those rules are pointless. The sanction of striking the witnesses was an appropriate one in this case, which meant that Ms. Blair’s case was over before the trial started.
Note to self: Always enter the court’s deadlines on your calendar and make sure to read those local rules VERY carefully.