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Scott v. Goldman

filed: March 29, 1996.

RICHARD SCOTT, A SINGLE PERSON, APPELLANT,
v.
PEARL GOLDMAN, A SINGLE PERSON, RESPONDENT.



Superior Court of Pierce County. Superior Court Docket No. 89-2-08053-8. Date Filed In Superior Court: September 23, 1994. Superior Court Judge Signing: Karen Strombom.

Seinfeld, CJ, Houghton, Acj, Armstrong, J, concur

Author: Seinfeld

SEINFELD, C.J. -- Richard Scott appeals the vacation of a default judgment he obtained against Pearl Goldman.

Goldman cross appeals, asserting that the trial court erred by dismissing Scott's claim without prejudice. We affirm.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY AND FACTS

On the same day that Scott filed this action for misappropriation of funds and involuntary servitude against Goldman, he sent a process server to serve her at her Roy, Washington, residence. The process server was unsuccessful as he could not find Goldman's proper address.

Scott's attorney later learned that Goldman might be residing with her son and daughter-in-law, Ernest and Gayle Brock. The process server went to the Brocks' home in Puyallup. Upon learning that Goldman had granted Ernest Brock a general power of attorney, the process server served Brock on behalf of his mother.

On the advice of Goldman's attorney, Brock did not enter an appearance on Goldman's behalf. Scott then moved for a default judgment. The affidavit of service accompanying the motion stated that Goldman had received valid substitute service at her son's residence in Puyallup.*fn1 The trial court entered a default judgment against Goldman on September 21, 1989.

On May 31, 1994, Goldman moved to have the judgment set aside. The trial court granted the motion by letter opinion, finding that Scott had failed to establish in personam jurisdiction over Goldman. Scott moved for reconsideration.

In August 1994, Commonwealth Land Title Insurance

Company (Commonwealth) served a summons and complaint on Goldman's attorney to initiate action against Goldman and the Brocks. Commonwealth sought recovery of $20,000 it had paid Scott to release it from a judgment lien. The suit apparently involved real property Goldman had conveyed after entry of the default judgment and after a judgment lien had been placed on the property.

The trial court signed an order vacating the default judgment and denying Scott's motion for reconsideration on August 19, 1994. The order also denied a motion by Goldman to have Scott and his attorney repay the $20,000 they had allegedly received from Commonwealth.

Goldman moved to reopen and amend the judgment. Offering documentation of Commonwealth's action for breach of warranty as support, Goldman asked the court to modify the order to direct Scott and his attorney to either pay or indemnify her for the $20,000 Commonwealth sought to recover. The trial court denied her motion.

On appeal, Scott claims that RCW 11.94.010 and .050 implicitly authorize the holder of a general power of attorney to accept service on behalf of the principal and, in the alternative, that his service was sufficient to obtain jurisdiction over Goldman because it was calculated to give Goldman, her attorney-in-fact, and her attorney-at-law actual notice.

In her cross-appeal, Goldman assigns error to the trial court's dismissal of Scott's complaint without prejudice, its denial of her motion for attorney fees, and its denial of her request for an order requiring Scott to repay or hold Goldman harmless for the $20,000 Scott received from Commonwealth.

I

Scott contends that the general power of attorney grants Brock the authority to accept service on behalf of his mother. Scott argues that Goldman's appointment of her son ...


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