Dan's Trucking, Inc. v. Kerr Contractors, Inc., No. 44342–2–II.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Washington
Writing for the CourtBJORGEN
Citation332 P.3d 1154
PartiesDAN'S TRUCKING, INC., Respondent, v. KERR CONTRACTORS, INC., Liberty Mutual Group, Inc., a/k/a Safeco Insurance Company of America, bond nos. 6709272, 6709273, 5581430, Appellants. State of Washington, Washington State Department of Transportation, Defendants.
Decision Date19 August 2014
Docket NumberNo. 44342–2–II.

332 P.3d 1154

DAN'S TRUCKING, INC., Respondent,
v.
KERR CONTRACTORS, INC., Liberty Mutual Group, Inc., a/k/a Safeco Insurance Company of America, bond nos. 6709272, 6709273, 5581430, Appellants.

State of Washington, Washington State Department of Transportation, Defendants.

No. 44342–2–II.

Court of Appeals of Washington,
Division 2.

Aug. 19, 2014.


[332 P.3d 1155]


Joseph a Yazbeck Jr., Yazbeck Cloran & Bowser PC, Portland, OR, for Appellant.

Benjamin D. Cushman, Cushman Law Offices PS, Olympia, WA, for Respondent.


BJORGEN, A.C.J.

¶ 1 Kerr Contractors, Inc. and Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, Inc., a/k/a Safeco Insurance Company of America (Kerr), appeal a superior court order granting a motion by Dan's Trucking, Inc. to strike Kerr's request for a trial de novo following an arbitrator's decision awarding Dan's Trucking $6,979.57 in attorney fees. Kerr contends that the trial court erred in granting the motion to strike because it was entitled to a trial de novo under Mandatory Arbitration Rule (MAR) 7.1. We hold that, because resolution of the parties' attorney fees issue remained within mandatory arbitration, Kerr was entitled to a trial de novo on that issue under MAR 7.1. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's order granting Dan's Trucking's motion to strike and remand for trial de novo on the attorney fee issue.

[332 P.3d 1156]

FACTS

¶ 2 The Washington State Department of Transportation awarded a contract to Kerr to make improvements to State Route 14 in Clark County, Washington. Kerr subcontracted with Dan's Trucking to haul asphalt for the highway improvement project. A dispute arose between the parties, and Dan's Trucking filed a complaint against Kerr for breach of contract and negligence in Thurston County Superior Court. The superior court transferred the case to mandatory arbitration. Prior to the arbitration hearing, the parties settled Dan's Trucking's underlying claims, but did not resolve the amount of attorney fees to be awarded to Dan's Trucking. Kerr memorialized the parties' settlement agreement in an e-mail that stated, “We received authority from our client for the following offer: 1. Payment from Kerr to Dan's of $3,971.38; and 2. Fees in an amount to be determined by the arbitrator; 3. In exchange for dismissal.” Clerk's Papers (CP) at 28. Kerr also sent the following e-mail to the arbitrator indicating that the parties had settled their primary dispute:

As I said in my voicemail to you yesterday, the parties have settled this matter, and therefore we need to cancel the arbitration hearing scheduled for tomorrow, 6/28.

However, as part of the settlement, the parties have agreed that you will decide the amount of attorney fees awarded to Dan's. Our preference would be to brief the issue and then hold a telephonic hearing on the matter with you.

CP at 29. The arbitrator subsequently awarded $6,979.57 in attorney fees to Dan's Trucking. The form on which the arbitrator entered his arbitration award contained the following preprinted language:


Twenty days after the award has been filed with the clerk, if no party has sought a trial de novo, the prevailing party, on notice to all parties, may present to the Assigned Judge a judgment on the arbitration award for entry as final judgment in this case.

CP at 21.


¶ 3 After Kerr timely requested a trial de novo, Dan's Trucking filed a motion in superior court to strike Kerr's request, asserting that Kerr was not entitled to a trial de novo under MAR. 7.1 because the parties had privately settled their dispute. The motion farther asserted that the arbitrator was acting as a private arbitrator under the Uniform Arbitration Act (UAA), chapter 7.04A RCW, when he decided the amount of attorney fees to be awarded to Dan's Trucking, rather than as an arbitrator under MAR 3.2. Following a hearing, the trial court entered an order granting Dan's Trucking's motion to strike Kerr's request for a trial de novo. The trial court later entered a judgment against Kerr awarding Dan's Trucking $6,979.57 in attorney fees, the amount determined appropriate through arbitration, as well as $11,663.17 in supplemental attorney fees. Kerr timely appeals.

ANALYSIS
I. Request for a Trial de Novo

¶ 4 The issue raised by this appeal is whether the trial court erred in granting Dan's Trucking's motion to strike Kerr's request for a trial de novo. Our resolution of this issue turns on whether the arbitrator's award of attorney fees to Dan's Trucking was governed by the UAA or by chapter 7.06 RCW as implemented by the MARs. If under the UAA, the trial court properly granted Dan's Trucking's motion to strike Kerr's request for a trial de novo. If under chapter 7.06 RCW as implemented by the MARs, the trial court erred because Kerr was entitled to a trial de novo under MAR 7.1. We hold that the MARs governed the arbitrator's attorney fee determination and, therefore, the trial court erred by granting Dan's Trucking's motion to strike Kerr's request for a trial de novo.

¶ 5 The application of court rules to a set of facts is a question of law that we review de novo. Russell v. Maas, 166 Wash.App. 885, 889, 272 P.3d 273, review denied,174 Wash.2d 1016, 281 P.3d 687 (2012). As With other court rules, we interpret the MARs “as though they were drafted by the Legislature.” Wiley v. Rehak, 143 Wash.2d 339, 343, 20 P.3d 404 (2001). Thus, we construe the MARs consistently with their purpose

[332 P.3d 1157]

“to reduce congestion in the courts and delays in hearing civil cases.” Perkins Coie v. Williams, 84 Wash.App. 733, 737, 929 P.2d 1215 (1997); Wiley, 143 Wash.2d at 343, 20 P.3d 404. We also give effect to the plain meaning of a court rule, as “discerned from reading the rule as a whole, harmonizing its provisions, and using related rules to help identify the legislative intent embodied in the rule.” State v. Chhom, 162 Wash.2d 451, 458, 173 P.3d 234 (2007).

¶ 6 Chapter 7.06 RCW, as implemented by the MARs, requires the mandatory arbitration of certain civil claims. RCW 7.06.010–.030; MAR 1.2. In Thurston County, mandatory arbitration proceedings apply to civil “[c]laims valued up to $50,000, exclusive of interest and costs.” MAR 1.2; Thurston County Local MAR 1.2. The MARs do not apply to arbitration by private agreement or under other statutes, unless the parties so stipulate. MAR 1.1; MAR 8.1. MAR 7.1 provides that an...

To continue reading

Request your trial
11 practice notes
  • Sellers v. Longview Orthopedic Assocs., PLLC, No. 52327-2-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 24 Diciembre 2019
    ...of a court rule is a matter of law that we review de novo. Dan’s Trucking, Inc. v. Kerr Contractors, Inc. , 183 Wash. App. 133, 139, 332 P.3d 1154 (2014). ¶16 However, whether a party’s conduct amounts to excusable neglect and whether the party acted with due diligence in moving to set asid......
  • In re Marriage of Carrasco, 45767-9-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 16 Junio 2015
    ...871, 336 P.3d 615 (2014) review denied, 182 Wn.2d 1013 (2015); Dan's Trucking, Inc. v. Kerr Contractors, Inc., 183 Wn.App. 133, 140-41, 332 P.3d 1154 (2014). The context rule allows the court to view a contract, including a stipulation, as a whole and '"consider extrinsic evidence, such as ......
  • Newingham v. John Newingham, Kristie Newingham, & Velocity CNC Machining, Inc., No. 48818-3-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 23 Mayo 2017
    ...attorney fees on appeal where authorized by applicable law. Dan's Trucking, Inc. v. Kerr Contractors, Inc., 183 Wn. App. 133, 143, 332 P.3d 1154 (2014). However, Cory then cites RCW 4.84.290 and RCW 4.84.250, which only apply to damage actions of $10,000 or less. The judgment awarded in thi......
  • Newingham v. Newingham, 48818-3-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 23 Mayo 2017
    ...recover attorney fees on appeal where authorized by applicable law. Dan's Trucking, Inc. v. Kerr Contractors, Inc., 183 Wn.App. 133, 143, 332 P.3d 1154 (2014). However, Cory then cites RCW 4.84.290 and RCW 4.84.250, which only apply to damage actions of $10, 000 or less. The judgment awarde......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Sellers v. Longview Orthopedic Assocs., PLLC, No. 52327-2-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 24 Diciembre 2019
    ...of a court rule is a matter of law that we review de novo. Dan’s Trucking, Inc. v. Kerr Contractors, Inc. , 183 Wash. App. 133, 139, 332 P.3d 1154 (2014). ¶16 However, whether a party’s conduct amounts to excusable neglect and whether the party acted with due diligence in moving to set asid......
  • In re Marriage of Carrasco, 45767-9-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 16 Junio 2015
    ...871, 336 P.3d 615 (2014) review denied, 182 Wn.2d 1013 (2015); Dan's Trucking, Inc. v. Kerr Contractors, Inc., 183 Wn.App. 133, 140-41, 332 P.3d 1154 (2014). The context rule allows the court to view a contract, including a stipulation, as a whole and '"consider extrinsic evidence, such as ......
  • Newingham v. John Newingham, Kristie Newingham, & Velocity CNC Machining, Inc., No. 48818-3-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 23 Mayo 2017
    ...attorney fees on appeal where authorized by applicable law. Dan's Trucking, Inc. v. Kerr Contractors, Inc., 183 Wn. App. 133, 143, 332 P.3d 1154 (2014). However, Cory then cites RCW 4.84.290 and RCW 4.84.250, which only apply to damage actions of $10,000 or less. The judgment awarded in thi......
  • Newingham v. Newingham, 48818-3-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 23 Mayo 2017
    ...recover attorney fees on appeal where authorized by applicable law. Dan's Trucking, Inc. v. Kerr Contractors, Inc., 183 Wn.App. 133, 143, 332 P.3d 1154 (2014). However, Cory then cites RCW 4.84.290 and RCW 4.84.250, which only apply to damage actions of $10, 000 or less. The judgment awarde......
  • 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