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McRae v. Tahitian, LLC

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 3

June 5, 2014

Phyllis J. McRae, Respondent,
v.
Tahitian, LLC, Appellant

Oral Argument March 18, 2014.

Appeal from Franklin Superior Court. Docket No: 11-2-51131-9. Date filed: 04/16/2013. Judge signing: Honorable Craig J Matheson.

Benjamin W. Dow (of Dow Law Firm ), for appellant.

Eric B. Eisinger (of Walker Heye Meehan & Eisinger PLLC ), for respondent.

AUTHOR: Stephen M. Brown, J. WE CONCUR: Laurel H. Siddoway, C.J., George B. Fearing, J.

OPINION

Page 822

Brown, J.

[181 Wn.App. 640] ¶ 1 Employer Tahitian LLC appeals a trial court judgment for $35,980.53 to former motel employee Phyllis J. McRae. The codefendants, motel owners Fen and Jianming Li, do not appeal. Tahitian contends the trial court erred when attempting to harmonize seemingly contradictory jury verdict answers by altering completed verdict forms to shift damages from Ms. Li to Tahitian. Based on the supplemental record showing jury annotations to the elements of each claim in the jury instructions, we decide the trial court correctly harmonized the verdict answers. Accordingly, we affirm.

FACTS

¶ 2 On March 24, 2011, soon after her promotion to manager of the Pasco Tahitian Inn, Ms. McRae was attacked by a motel guest. She claimed Ms. Li reduced her [181 Wn.App. 641] working hours to zero after a dispute erupted between them regarding the way Ms. McRae had handled the guest. The last day Ms. McRae worked was April 15, 2011. She claimed Ms. Li wrongfully withheld wages, paying her $9.32 per hour instead of the $10.00 promised upon her promotion. The withheld wages totaled $78.40.

¶ 3 In November 2011, Ms. McRae sued Tahitian and the Lis for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, wrongful withholding of wages, personal injury, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. At the close of her case, Ms. McRae voluntarily dismissed all claims against the Lis except the wage claim. The parties apparently focused on the personal injury claim at trial.

¶ 4 The trial court submitted four verdict forms to the jury, including three verdicts labeled A, B, and C, and one special verdict. Verdict form A directed the jury to address the claims against Tahitian solely and to specify Ms. McRae's past and future economic and noneconomic damages. Tahitian argues Verdict form A pertained to the personal injury claim against it. Verdict form B pertained to both Tahitian and Ms. Li. Verdict form C directed the jury to address the wage claim against Ms. Li and to specify Ms. McRae's past economic damages--the

Page 823

difference between the wage promised and the wage actually paid. When the jury returned the forms, Verdict form A was blank; the court ordered the jury to complete the form during ...


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