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The Pivotal Law Blog

Puget Sound Energy agrees to pay $1.5M in penalties for Greenwood explosion

Posted Wednesday, March 29, 2017 by Pivotal Law Group

It was announced yesterday that a settlement has been reached between Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and the state's Utilities and Transportation Commission, in which PSE agrees to pay $1.5 million in penalties for the March 9, 2016 natural-gas explosion in…

Ninth Circuit: A person who is unable to sit for more than four hours a day is “disabled” from sedentary work under ERISA

Posted Friday, March 24, 2017 by Pivotal Law Group

In Armani v. Northwestern Mutual Life Ins. Co., 14-56866 (November 4, 2016), the Ninth Circuit joined other courts around the country in holding that a person who cannot sit for more than four hours in an eight-hour workday qualifies as “disabled” from…

Recent Change in Non-Parental Custody: Raising the First Hurdle

Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2017 by Pivotal Law Group

I have previously written about the somewhat specialized area of Family Law called Non-Parental Custody (“NPC”) in which a non-parent (frequently grandparents) seek to gain custody of a child from the child’s parents. As noted in that article, it can be…

Washington legislature considers law to ban holding phones while driving

Posted Thursday, March 9, 2017 by Pivotal Law Group

In an effort to reduce distracted driving, the Washington State legislature is considering a law that would ban holding an electronic device like a cell phone while driving. Republican Sen. Ann Rivers, the sponsor of the bill, called it a good public…

Washington Supreme Court: Wrongful death claims can be time-barred before a person dies

Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2016 by Pivotal Law Group

When a person dies because of the wrongful conduct of another, Washington law allows the decedent’s personal representative to file what’s called a “wrongful death action.” Certain limitations exist on wrongful death actions. For instance, if after…

ACEP recommendations for a safe Thanksgiving

Posted Tuesday, November 22, 2016 by Pivotal Law Group

Thanksgiving is all about family, friends, food, and fun. To help keep it that way, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has published recommendations for a safe holiday. Those recommendations address many common issues, including: Food…

KIRO's Jesse Jones investigates a Seattle tree ordinance impacting homeowners, interviews Pivotal's Chris Thayer

Posted Monday, November 14, 2016 by Christopher L. Thayer

Hundreds of thousands of Seattle trees are on city property but are the responsibility of homeowners to maintain, including removal when necessary. This is the case when a tree is on a city-owned right-of-way abutting private property and the city did…

Cracks in Seattle Sidewalks: Who has the duty to repair? Who is liable when someone is injured?

Posted Thursday, November 10, 2016 by Christopher L. Thayer

According to recent surveys, Seattle has over 2,100 miles of sidewalks and public pathways in the city. That covers about 75% of the blocks in Seattle. At one point or another, we have all noticed cracks or broken concrete in sidewalks, whether due tree…

Court of Appeals permits foreclosures, saying they were not time-barred

Posted Thursday, November 3, 2016 by Pivotal Law Group

Recently, the Washington State Court of Appeals decided two cases related to home foreclosures. In both, the Court upheld the lender’s right to foreclose in the face of challenges based upon Statute of Limitations – the argument that the legal time limit…

Crash avoidance features are constantly changing, expected to decrease collisions

Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2016 by Christopher L. Thayer

Every year, more crash avoidance features make their way into new vehicles. For instance, thirty years ago, the Reagan administration required new cars starting with 1986 models to have high-mounted “third brake lights,” intended to reduce the number of…

Washington Supreme Court confirms emotional distress damages for cutting down a tree are authorized, subject to trebling

Posted Friday, October 21, 2016 by Christopher L. Thayer

In Pendergrast v. Matichuk, the Washington Supreme Court revisited the Timber Trespass statute (which awards damages against a person who wrongfully cuts down a tree on another’s land. In 2006, Leslie Pendergrast and Robert Matichuk bought adjacent lots…

$50M Settlement in Oso slide case

Posted Thursday, October 13, 2016 by Pivotal Law Group

Last Sunday, just one day before the jury was set to convene in the Oso landslide lawsuit, the plaintiffs settled with Washington state for $50 million. The settlement includes almost $395,000 in attorney’s fees and costs for various sanction motions…

State ordered to pay for destruction of emails in Oso case

Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2016 by Pivotal Law Group

King County Superior Court Judge Roger Rogoff announced yesterday he would sanction the state over the deletion of emails that should have been preserved during litigation over the 2014 Oso landslide. Rogoff did not set a dollar figure on the amount of…

How to manage the Facebook account of a loved one who has died

Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2016 by Pivotal Law Group

In this age of the internet, many of our “assets” are now digital. This is why in June, Washington State passed the Digital Assets Act, which gives a deceased person’s fiduciary the legal authority to manage their “digital assets.” We addressed this Act…

Mortgage Contracts Cannot Give Lenders the Right to Enter and Secure a Property Before Foreclosure

Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2016 by Pivotal Law Group

When a person mortgages a property and then fails to make the required mortgage payments, the lender may not take possession of the property until it has gone through foreclosure. This is the rule by Washington statute, specifically RCW 7.28.230(1). This…

Car Crashes That Happen in Autopilot Mode: Who’s To Blame?

Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2016 by Christopher L. Thayer and Pivotal Law Group

The first known fatal crash of a Tesla vehicle while under the control of “autopilot” has sparked controversy and federal investigators. 40 year old Joshua Brown, a Tesla enthusiast, was the victim of the autopilot crash when his 2015 Tesla Model S…

Life-size Sculpture Created To Withstand Car Crashes

Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2016 by Pivotal Law Group

Australia's Transport Accident Commission has teamed up with Melbourne artist Patricia Piccinini to create "Graham" -- a life-size sculpture that was designed specifically to survive car crashes. The sculpture is part of a road safety campaign…

Court Orders Yelp to Take Down Defamatory Reviews

Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2016 by Pivotal Law Group

The popular business rating website Yelp.com recently took a stand against the California Court of Appeals. Yelp is known for publishing public reviews about local businesses. In a defamation case by attorney Dawn Hassell, Yelp was ordered to take down…

Municipality’s Duty to Maintain Roadways Extends Beyond Asphalt

Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2016 by Pivotal Law Group

Municipalities have a duty to maintain their roadways in a reasonably safe condition for ordinary travel. In a recent decision, the Washington State Supreme Court held this duty extends beyond the roadways themselves to the surrounding areas. In June…

Court of Appeals Requires City to Ensure Roads are “Reasonably Safe” for Bicyclists

Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2016 by Christopher L. Thayer

Division II of the Court of Appeals in O’Neill v. City of Port Orchard, ruled the city had an obligation to ensure its roadways were maintained to be “reasonably safe” for bicyclists. In O’Neill, plaintiff, an avid cyclist, was riding her bike in Port…

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