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ISSAQUAH LAW GROUP

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: Division III

 

Niccum v. Enquist

The issue in this case is whether a trial court can deduct costs from verdict amount in a trial de novo to determine whether a party bettered their position after mandatory arbitration.  Niccum sued Enquist for damages as a result of an automobile accident.  In mandatory arbitration Niccum was awarded $24,496.  Enquist requested a trial de novo.  Nicumm made an offer of compromise in the amount of $22,000 intended to replace the arbitrator’s award.  Enquist rejected the offer.  Niccum then made a second offer of compromise in the amount of $17,350 including costs and statutory attorney fees, which Enquist also rejected.

MAR 7.3 and RCW 7.06.050(1) provide that if a party does not better its position from the offer of compromise (or arbitration award), that party will pay the opposing party’s costs and reasonable attorney fees incurred at the trial.

The trial de novo resulted in a verdict awarding Niccum $16,650.  Now, even under the new math, that number would appear less than the $17,350 that Niccum offered to compromise the case.  However, the trial court then deducted costs in the amount of $1,061.28 from the offer of compromise coming up with an amount of $16,288.72.  According to the trial court, this amount compared to $16,650 (the verdict amount), meant that Enquist did not better his position. 

Division III looked to previous case law dealing with comparing arbitration awards to trial de novo verdicts and found that trial courts must compare comparables.  What?!  This means you compare the damages found in the arbitration to damages found in the trial de novo.  Since Niccum’s offer of compromise included costs and attorney fees, the trial court was correct in deducting the costs from the offer and then comparing it to the verdict amount.  Wow!  A verdict  of $361.28 more cost Mr. Enquist over $15,000 in attorney fees.  Make sure you counsel your client well in considering offers of compromise.

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