Superior Court Denies Plaintiff’s Request for Trial De Novo Due to Failure to Comply With Statutory Requirements

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May 4, 2021

James Mendel recently prevailed on a motion to strike Plaintiff’s request for a trial de novo in Pierce County Superior Court. Defendant argued that Plaintiff’s request for a trial de novo should be stricken due to Plaintiff’s failure to perfect their request under RCW 7.06.050 because it was not signed by the Plaintiff himself as required under the statute. Failure to strictly comply with all these stated filing requirements is fatal to a request for trial de novo. See Nevers v. Fireside, Inc., 133 Wn.2d 804, 947 P.2d 721 (1997). RCW 7.06.050 states that within 20 days after the filing of an arbitration award “any aggrieved party may file with the clerk a written notice of appeal and request for a trial de novo in the superior court on all issues of law and fact. The notice must be signed by the party. Such trial de novo shall thereupon be held, including a right to jury, if demanded.”

Plaintiff argued that when an attorney files a motion on behalf of their client, this satisfies the requirement and cited to Russell v. Maas, 166 Wn. App. 885, 889, 272 P.3d 273, 275 (2012), which supported Plaintiff’s argument. In 2018, however, the legislature added the phrase: “the notice must be signed by the party.” This created an additional requirement. Since the statute already allowed the party’s attorney to sign on behalf of the client to comply with the filing of the notice of appeal, adding this line would be redundant if it did not require that the party themselves sign. See Parents Involved in Cmty. Sch. v. Seattle Sch. Dist. No. 1, 149 Wn.2d 660, 685, 72 P.3d 151 (2003) (“If at all possible, we are required to ‘give effect to every word, clause and sentence in a statute,’ leaving no part superfluous.” (quoting Cox v. Helenius, 103 Wn.2d 383, 387, 693 P.2d 683 (1985))).

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