Appeal from Superior Court, King (96-2-03538-6) & Kittitas (96-2-00046-1) County; Hon. Jim Bates, Judge & Hon. Michael E. Cooper, Judge. King County Sup. Court. Kittitas County Sup. Court.
Durham, C.j., Smith, Dolliver, Guy, Johnson, Madsen, Talmadge, Alexander, Sanders, J.j., concur
DURHAM, C.J. -- This is a widely publicized contractual dispute between King County (County) and the Seattle Seahawks, Inc. (SSI). Both parties commenced legal actions in different counties on the same day. King County seeks review of a Kittitas County Superior Court order determining that the Kittitas County court has jurisdiction over this matter, and restraining the County from proceeding with its action in King County. We reverse.
Both the King County and Kittitas County actions were filed and served on the opposing parties on the morning of February 2, 1996. The timing of these events was as follows:
9:51 a.m. The County files its action in King County.
10:19 a.m. SSI files its action in Kittitas County.
10:25 a.m. SSI serves its action on the County.
11:42 a.m. The County serves its action on SSI.
The Kittitas County court ruled that it had jurisdiction and issued an order restraining the County from proceeding with its action in King County. We granted the County's motion for direct discretionary review of the Kittitas County order, and stayed further proceedings in both counties pending our review.
Under the priority of action rule, the trial court which first obtains jurisdiction is the court in which this matter will normally proceed. See Mutual of Enumclaw Ins. Co. v. The Human Rights Comm'n 39 Wash. App. 213, 216, 692 P.2d 882 (1984). SSI contends the court which acquires jurisdiction is the court in the county in which both filing and service are first completed. We disagree. The applicable court rule and statute are unambiguous. Both provide that a civil action is commenced by filing or by service of the summons and complaint. CR 3; RCW 4.28.020. Once an action is commenced, "the court is deemed to have acquired jurisdiction and to have control of all subsequent proceedings." RCW 4.28.020.
"CR 3 clearly and unmistakably provides that an action is commenced today by service of a summons or by the filing of a complaint." Curtis Lumber Co. v. Sortor, 83 Wash. 2d 764, 767, 522 P.2d 822 (1974). RCW 4.28.020 clearly provides that the court is deemed to have acquired jurisdiction from the time an action is commenced. Therefore, the King County court acquired jurisdiction over this matter when the County filed its complaint. The fact that SSI completed both service and filing first does ...