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Powers v. W.B. Mobile Servs., Inc.

Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc

December 11, 2014

Jesse Powers, Respondent ,
v.
W.B. Mobile Services, Inc., Petitioner

Argued October 14, 2014.

Appeal from Pierce County Superior Court 09-2-09464-6 Honorable Mark Lloyd Gelman.

Jill H. Stone and Melanie T. Stella (of Stadium Law Group LLC ), for petitioner.

Tamara S. Clower (of Tamara S. Clower LLC ) and Cameron T. Riecan (of Tacoma Injury Law Group Inc. PS ), for respondent.

Bryan P. Harnetiaux and Gary N. Bloom on behalf of Washington State Association for Justice Foundation, amicus curiae.

AUTHOR: Justice Steven C. Gonzá lez. WE CONCUR: Chief Justice Barbara A. Madsen, Charles W. Johnson, Justice Susan Owens, Justice Mary E. Fairhurst, Justice Debra L. Stephens, Justice Charles K. Wiggins, Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud, Justice Justice Mary I. Yu.

OPINION

Page 174

González, J.

[182 Wn.2d 161] ¶ 1 Lawsuits must be initiated within the relevant statute of limitations. Generally, plaintiffs need to timely serve only one defendant to toll the statute of limitations on their claims. Today, we are asked whether service of process on one defendant tolls the statute of limitations as to an unserved and unnamed defendant that the plaintiff identified with a placeholder such as " John Doe." We find that service of process on one defendant

Page 175

tolls the statute of limitations as to an unserved and unnamed defendant if the plaintiff identifies the unnamed defendant with reasonable particularity. Here, plaintiff Jesse Powers identified defendant W.B. Mobile Services Inc. with such reasonable particularity. We affirm the Court of Appeals and remand to the superior court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Facts

¶ 2 On June 2, 2006, a handicap access ramp platform at a residential construction site in Spanaway, Washington, collapsed when Powers used it. Powers fell and was injured when the platform collapsed.

¶ 3 Powers fell while working for Awning Solutions, a company hired by Premier Communities Inc. to install an [182 Wn.2d 162] awning on a modular building. Premier also contracted with Pacific Mobile Structures Inc. to supply the ramp that collapsed. Unknown to Powers, Awning Solutions, or Premier, Pacific had subcontracted with W.B. Mobile to install the ramp that collapsed. After falling, Powers " tried to find out exactly who pet the ramp the together," including making inquiries to Awning Solutions, but Awning ...


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