Washington Case Law Update: When is a Losing Party Entitled to Relief from Judgment?
From the desk of Kyle D. Riley: Under Washington law, a losing party may obtain relief from prior judgment in cases of fraud, misrepresentation or misconduct. If the court finds that the offending party withheld evidence during discovery, is that enough to get relief from the judgment? Read on to learn more.
Claims Pointer: In this case arising from a land dispute between two neighbors, the Washington Court of Appeals held that in order to obtain relief from a prior judgment, the party seeking relief must show that the fraud, misrepresentation or misconduct prevented that party from fully and fairly presenting their case or defense. The case is a reminder that even if it is discovered that the opposing party engaged in misconduct, it may not be sufficient to obtain relief from a prior judgment, an important consideration for adjusters and their attorneys during and after legal proceedings.
Tammy Blakey & Flying T. Ranch, Inc., v. Reginald Wren & Brenda Wren, No. 75449-1-1, Washington Court of Appeals Div. I (September 5, 2017) (unpublished)
Reginald Wren and Brenda Wren (“the Wrens”) and Tammy Blakey (“Blakey”) lived on adjacent lots. Blakey acquired her parcel in 1989, and the Wrens acquired their parcel in 2004. The two parcels were separated by a barbed wire fence. Over time, a hedgerow engulfed the barbed wire fence, and each neighbor farmed their respective parcel up to the hedgerow. In 1990, Blakey removed some of the hedgerow and repaired the fence. The hedgerow slowly grew back. In 2009, she destroyed the hedgerow again, and decided to build a new barbed wire fence. The Wrens disputed the location of the new barbed wire fence and claimed that it encroached on their property by approximately 50 feet.
The Wrens sued Blakey for trespass and to quiet title. Blakey counterclaimed, asserting that she obtained title in 2009 by adverse possession. The trial court...