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Akrie v. Grant

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1

December 23, 2013

Scott Akrie et al., Respondents,
v.
James Grant et al., Appellants

Appeal from King County Superior Court. Docket No: 11-2-37695-8. Date filed: 02/09/2012. Judge signing: Honorable Beth M Andrus.

Michael E. Kipling, Marjorie A. Walter, and Timothy M. Moran (of Kipling Law Group PLLC ), for appellants.

Dennis M. Moran and William A. Keller (of Moran & Keller PLLC ), for respondents.

Authored by Stephen J. Dwyer. Concurring: Michael S. Spearman, Linda Lau.

OPINION

Page 568

[178 Wn.App. 507] Dwyer, J.

¶ 1 Volcan Group, Inc., d/b/a NetLogix, and Scott Akrie, chief operating officer of NetLogix (collectively [178 Wn.App. 508] Akrie), sued James Grant, Cassandra Kennan, Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP, Seattle Deposition Reporters, and T-Mobile (collectively Grant) for violation of the privacy act. [1] Grant moved to strike the claims under the anti-SLAPP [2] statute [3] and

Page 569

moved to dismiss the suit. The trial court held that the anti-SLAPP statute applied to Akrie's claim, granted the motion to dismiss, and awarded statutory damages of $10,000 plus attorney fees to Grant. Grant appeals, asserting that the trial court erred by awarding only $10,000 in damages and insisting that the anti-SLAPP statute mandates a $10,000 award to each defendant. Grant is correct that the anti-SLAPP statute mandates a $10,000 award to each moving party who prevails on a motion to dismiss. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the superior court and remand the cause to that court with instructions to enter judgment for Grant in an amount that includes statutory damages of $50,000.

I

¶ 2 Scott Akrie is the chief operating officer of NetLogix, a company located in San Diego, California. NetLogix contracted with T-Mobile to provide " engineering, technical and auditing services to upgrade T-Mobile facilities in connection with its new 3G network." In 2010, NetLogix sued T-Mobile in the United States District Court, Western District of Washington, claiming breach of contract. James Grant [4] and Kennan, attorneys at Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP (DWT), represented T-Mobile in the federal action. While that action was pending, Jason Dillon, a former vice president of NetLogix, e-mailed James Grant and Kennan, [178 Wn.App. 509] offering to divulge to them information regarding the pending lawsuit.

¶ 3 On August 25, 2011, Dillon telephoned DWT offices to speak with James Grant and Kennan. James Grant told Dillon that his " assistant" Thad was present and would be taking notes during the call. In actuality, Thad Byrd was a certified court reporter employed by Seattle Deposition Reporters, and was transcribing the telephone call. During the call, Dillon revealed that NetLogix had destroyed evidence favorable to T-Mobile in the contract dispute. Dillon telephoned DWT offices again on September 16 to speak with James Grant and Kennan. As before, an employee of Seattle Deposition Reporters transcribed this telephone call.

¶ 4 Thereafter, in the federal action, T-Mobile filed a motion to dismiss for spoliation of evidence based on the statements provided by Dillon in the August 25 and September 16 telephone calls. In support of the motion, T-Mobile filed portions of the transcripts of Dillon's telephone calls.[5]

¶ 5 Akrie then brought this action in King County Superior Court asserting that the recording and dissemination of Dillon's telephone conversations in federal court violated Washington's privacy act. Akrie asserted that the recording and dissemination of Dillon's telephone conversations caused injury to its " business, person and reputation" and sought damages for the alleged violations. Grant filed a motion to strike pursuant to Washington's anti-SLAPP statute and a motion ...


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