Cascade Floral Prod. v. Dep. of Labor & in., No. 35461-6-II.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Washington
Writing for the CourtHunt
Citation177 P.3d 124,142 Wn. App. 613
PartiesCASCADE FLORAL PRODUCTS, INC.; Continental Wholesale Florists, Inc., d/b/a Continental Floral Greens; Hiawatha, Inc.; Hood Canal Evergreens; Pacific Coast Evergreens, Inc.; Puget Sound Evergreens Co., Inc.; Mt. St.. Helens Evergreen, Inc.; Olympic Evergreen, Inc., Respondent, v. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR & INDUSTRIES, an agency of the State of Washington, Appellant.
Decision Date15 January 2008
Docket NumberNo. 35461-6-II.
177 P.3d 124
142 Wn. App. 613
CASCADE FLORAL PRODUCTS, INC.; Continental Wholesale Florists, Inc., d/b/a Continental Floral Greens; Hiawatha, Inc.; Hood Canal Evergreens; Pacific Coast Evergreens, Inc.; Puget Sound Evergreens Co., Inc.; Mt. St.. Helens Evergreen, Inc.; Olympic Evergreen, Inc., Respondent,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR & INDUSTRIES, an agency of the State of Washington, Appellant.
No. 35461-6-II.
Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 2.
January 15, 2008.
September 11, 2006.

[177 P.3d 125]

Diana Sheythe Cartwright, Attorney Generals Office, Seattle, WA, for Appellant.

Philip Albert Talmadge, Talmadge Law Group PLLC, Tukwila, WA, for Respondent.

HUNT, J.


¶ 1 The Department of Labor and Industries (L & I) appeals the trial court's summary judgment order declaring that Washington's farm labor contractor act1 (Act) does not apply to the brush picking industry, including Cascade Floral Products and other forest greenery packinghouses. L & I argues that the trial court erred in its ruling because brush picking workers are engaged in "forestation or reforestation" within the meaning of the Act. Holding that the packing-house owners are not "agricultural employers" under the Act and that brush picking is not a "forestation or reforestation" or related activity, we affirm.

FACTS
I. Background

¶ 2 The specialized forest products industry engages in the gathering and picking of naturally occurring products in forests, such as evergreen foliage, salal, moss, and cascara

177 P.3d 126

bark, which the industry uses for floral displays and other decorative purposes. RCW 76.48.020(18). Owners of packinghouses, called "sheds," lease land from property owners such as the United States Forest Service or large timber companies. The packinghouses then (1) sell permits2 to individual brush pickers to gather the greenery from the leased tract of land, (2) buy these greens from the brush pickers, and (3) act as vendors to greenery wholesalers and distributors.

¶ 3 In 2003, the Department of Labor and Industries (L & I) sent several packinghouses (Companies)3 information about the Act, RCW 19.30, including checklists to ensure compliance with the Act.

II. Declaratory Judgment

¶ 4 The Companies filed an action for declaratory judgment. They asked the Mason County Superior Court to declare that they were not "agricultural employers" within the meaning of the Act and, thus, it did not apply to them. Moving for summary judgment, the Companies argued that brush picking is not an "agricultural activity," nor does it qualify as "forestation or reforestation" under the Act. L & I responded that the Act broadly defines "agricultural employer" and that including the brush picking industry would best effectuate the Act's purpose.

¶ 5 The trial court ruled that the statute was unambiguous and that the phrase "and other related activities" referred back to the Act's specific terms "forestation or reforestation." Ruling that the statute did not include "other related forestry practices," the trial court concluded that brush picking was simply too different from forestation and reforestation for inclusion in the Act. The trial court granted the Companies' motion for summary judgment.

¶ 6 L & I appeals.

ANALYSIS

¶ 7 L & I argues that the trial court erred in ruling that the Act does not apply to the forest-greenery packing industry and Companies. L & I asserts that the statutory language is intentionally broad and that including brush pickers would conform to the Act's purpose.4 The Companies respond that the trial court properly found that the brush pickers and packinghouses are not engaged in "forestation or reforestation" within the meaning of the Act and consequently, the Act does not apply to them. We agree with the Companies and with the trial court.

I. Standard of Review

¶ 8 We review a summary judgment de novo. CR 56(c). We perform the same inquiry as the trial court. Hisle v. Todd Pac. Shipyards Corp., 151 Wash.2d 853, 860, 93 P.3d 108 (2004) (citing Kruse v. Hemp, 121 Wash.2d 715, 722, 853 P.2d 1373 (1993)). Summary judgment is appropriate only where there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. CR 56(c). When reviewing a summary judgment, we view all facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Vallandigham v. Clover Park Sch. Dist. No. 400, 154 Wash.2d 16, 26, 109 P.3d 805 (2005) (citing Atherton Condo. Apartment-Owners Assn Bd. of Dirs. v. Blume Dev. Co., 115 Wash.2d 506, 516, 799 P.2d 250 (1990)).

177 P.3d 127
II. Plain Meaning of the Act

¶ 9 The Act requires "agricultural employers" to provide certain protections for contract agricultural workers, such as obtaining insurance for the workers' transportation. The Act defines an "agricultural employer" as:

any person engaged in agricultural activity, including the growing, producing, or harvesting of farm or nursery products, or engaged in the forestation or reforestation of lands, which includes but is not limited to the planting, transplanting, tubing, precommercial thinning, and thinning of trees and seedlings, the clearing, piling, and disposal of brush and slash, the harvest of Christmas trees, and other related activities.

RCW 19.30.010(4).

¶ 10 L & I concedes that brush picking is not an "agricultural activity." Nonetheless, it argues that we should read the "forestation" language of the Act broadly and inclusively to effectuate the Act's purpose, namely, the protection of vulnerable workers. The Companies counter that the plain meaning of the Act's statutory language evinces the Legislature's intent that the Act apply only to actions involving cultivation, not to the gathering of naturally occurring greens for the brush picking industry. We agree with the Companies that the plain language of the Act controls and, therefore, statutory interpretation, as L & I requested is unnecessary.

A. Standard of Review

¶ 11 Because interpretation of statutes and court rules are questions of law, our review is de novo. Nevers v. Fireside, Inc., 133 Wash.2d 804, 809, 947 P.2d 721 (1997) (citing Westberg v. All-Purpose Structures, Inc., 86 Wash.App. 405, 409, 936 P.2d 1175 (1997)). Where statutory language is plain and unambiguous, we derive meaning from the wording of the statute itself. Rozner v. City of Bellevue, 116 Wash.2d 342, 347, 804 P.2d 24 (1991). A statute that is clear on its face is not subject to judicial interpretation. In re Marriage of Kovacs, 121 Wash.2d 795, 804, 854 P.2d 629 (1993).

B. Unambiguous Statute

¶ 12 A statute is ambiguous if it is "susceptible to two or more reasonable interpretations," but the possibility of different meanings alone does not render a statute vague. Cerrillo v. Esparza, 158 Wash.2d 194, 201, 142 P.3d 155 (2006) (quoting Agrilink Foods, Inc. v. Dep't of Revenue, 153 Wash.2d 392, 396, 103 P.3d 1226 (2005)). The Washington Supreme Court recently held it was error for an appellate court to engage in statutory interpretation without first determining if the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
7 practice notes
  • State v. Grocery Mfrs. Ass'n, No. 49768-9-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 5 Septiembre 2018
    ...a statute does not make it vague. See Cascade Floral Products, Inc. v. Dep’t of Labor & Indus. , 142 Wash. App. 613, 618-19, 177 P.3d 124 (2008) ("[T]he possibility of different meanings alone does not render a statute vague."); see also Douglass , 115 Wash.2d at 180, 795 P.2d......
  • Yeager v. O'Keefe, No. 48189-8-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 7 Marzo 2017
    ...Interpretation of court rules are questions of law we review de novo. Cascade Floral Prod., Inc. v. Dep't of Labor & Indust., 142 Wn. App. 613, 618, 177 P.3d 124 (2008). Court rules are interpreted in the same manner as statutes. Jafar v. Webb, 177 Wn.2d 520, 526, 303 P.3d 1042 (2013). ......
  • Yeager v. O'Keefe, 48189-8-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 7 Marzo 2017
    ...(2013). Interpretation of court rules are questions of law we review de novo. Cascade Floral Prod, Inc. v. Dep't of Labor & Indust, 142 Wn.App. 613, 618, 177 P.3d 124 (2008). Court rules are interpreted in the same manner as statutes. Jafar v. Webb, 177 Wn.2d 520, 526, 303 P.3d 1042 (20......
  • State v. Haines, No. 61858-0-I.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 3 Agosto 2009
    ...alone does not render a statute vague." Cascade Floral Prods., Inc. v. Dep't of Labor & Indus., 142 Wash.App. 613, 618-19, 177 P.3d 124 (2008). Here, Haines has formulated a highly implausible reading of the stalking statute—that it requires proof of at least six separate incidents......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • State v. Grocery Mfrs. Ass'n, No. 49768-9-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 5 Septiembre 2018
    ...a statute does not make it vague. See Cascade Floral Products, Inc. v. Dep’t of Labor & Indus. , 142 Wash. App. 613, 618-19, 177 P.3d 124 (2008) ("[T]he possibility of different meanings alone does not render a statute vague."); see also Douglass , 115 Wash.2d at 180, 795 P.2d......
  • Yeager v. O'Keefe, No. 48189-8-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 7 Marzo 2017
    ...Interpretation of court rules are questions of law we review de novo. Cascade Floral Prod., Inc. v. Dep't of Labor & Indust., 142 Wn. App. 613, 618, 177 P.3d 124 (2008). Court rules are interpreted in the same manner as statutes. Jafar v. Webb, 177 Wn.2d 520, 526, 303 P.3d 1042 (2013). ......
  • Yeager v. O'Keefe, 48189-8-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 7 Marzo 2017
    ...(2013). Interpretation of court rules are questions of law we review de novo. Cascade Floral Prod, Inc. v. Dep't of Labor & Indust, 142 Wn.App. 613, 618, 177 P.3d 124 (2008). Court rules are interpreted in the same manner as statutes. Jafar v. Webb, 177 Wn.2d 520, 526, 303 P.3d 1042 (20......
  • State v. Haines, No. 61858-0-I.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 3 Agosto 2009
    ...alone does not render a statute vague." Cascade Floral Prods., Inc. v. Dep't of Labor & Indus., 142 Wash.App. 613, 618-19, 177 P.3d 124 (2008). Here, Haines has formulated a highly implausible reading of the stalking statute—that it requires proof of at least six separate incidents......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT