Appeal from Pierce County Superior Court. Docket No: 12-2-14006-1. Judge signing: Honorable John Russell Hickman. Judgment or order under review. Date filed: 09/13/2013.
Charles M. Cruikshank III, for appellant.
Pierre E. Acebedo and Cindy Johnson Acebedo (of Acebedo & Johnson LLC ), for respondent.
Authored by Bradley A. Maxa. Concurring: Linda CJ Lee, Rich Melnick.
Bradley A. Maxa, J.
[187 Wn.App. 452] [¶1] This appeal arises from supplemental proceedings to enforce a judgment the estate of William Bremer obtained against Glen Walker. Walker appeals the trial court's denial of two motions to revise orders entered by the trial court commissioner as part of the supplementary proceedings, and also appeals several attorney fee awards made by the trial court commissioner and the trial court. We hold that the trial court commissioner had authority under RCW 6.32.190 to compel Walker to appear in Pierce County for supplemental proceedings examinations even though he resided in King County because Walker did not produce evidence that he did not do business in Pierce County. However, we further hold that the orders relating to the initial supplemental proceedings examination are invalid because Walker was not served with a court order directing him to appear at a new time that opposing
counsel selected for the examination. We address Walker's remaining arguments in the unpublished portion of this opinion.
[¶2] We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for entry of findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding three attorney fee awards.
[¶3] In 2009, Bremer contracted with Walker to sell commercial property in Pierce County at which Walker operated an auto repair business. Walker defaulted on the contract and forfeited his interest, but he refused to vacate [187 Wn.App. 453] the property. In 2012, Bremer's estate (hereinafter Bremer) initiated an unlawful detainer action against Walker in Pierce County Superior Court. The trial court ordered a writ of restitution, and entered a judgment against Walker in favor of Bremer in the amount of Bremer's attorney fees and costs.
April/May 2013 Supplemental Proceedings
[¶4] On April 11, 2013, Bremer moved the trial court for an order directing Walker to appear for an examination supplemental to execution of the judgment for fees and costs. The trial court commissioner issued an order for supplemental proceedings, directing Walker to appear to be examined at Pierce County Superior Court on April 30 at 1:30 pm. Bremer also filed a note for the commissioner's calendar stating that there would be a hearing at that place and date. Bremer served Walker's attorney with copies of the motion, the order, and the calendar note showing the April 30 hearing date.
[¶5] A memorandum of journal entry dated April 30 states that Bremer's attorney appeared in court but that nobody appeared for Walker. The memorandum states, " Counsel to renote the matter. No service upon the respondent [Walker]." Clerk's Papers (CP) at 10. On that same date, Bremer filed a note for commissioner's calendar stating that a hearing would take place on May 17. However, the commissioner did not enter an order requiring Walker to appear on May 17.
[¶6] Later that evening, a process server successfully served Walker with the supplemental proceedings documents at his residence in King County. Bremer alleges that the note for commissioner's calendar stating the May 17 date was one of the documents served.
[¶7] On May 17, Bremer's attorney appeared in court, but again neither Walker nor his attorney appeared. At Bremer's request, the commissioner ordered issuance of a bench warrant for Walker's arrest to bring him before the [187 Wn.App. 454] court to " show cause why he should not be convicted of Contempt of Court" and awarded Bremer attorney fees and costs in the amount of $3,116.50 for Walker's failure to appear. CP at 13.
[¶8] Walker was arrested and subsequently released on bail. The commissioner later quashed the warrant and ordered that Walker appear to show cause why he should not appear for supplemental proceedings. At the show cause hearing on August 12, Walker apparently argued that the May 17 show cause order and attorney fees judgment was invalid on various grounds. The commissioner " reinstated" the May 17 order, and directed Walker to appear for supplemental proceedings. CP at 104.
[¶9] Walker filed a motion for revision of the commissioner's August 12 order. The trial court denied the motion to revise following a hearing on September 13. The trial court reserved ruling on an award of attorney fees. Walker appealed this September 13 order.
January 2014 Supplemental Proceedings
[¶10] On December 3, 2013, Bremer moved the trial court for a new order directing Walker to appear for a supplemental proceeding examination. On that date, the trial court commissioner issued the order directing Walker to appear for examination on January 2, 2014. Bremer also filed a note for the commissioner's calendar stating that a hearing would take place on that date. Bremer successfully served Walker with this order, the underlying affidavit, and the calendar note listing the January 2 hearing date.
[¶11] Walker appeared at the January 2 hearing without his attorney. But he refused to be sworn, stating that he could not
testify because he was medicated. The commissioner ordered Walker to appear in two weeks to show cause why a bench warrant should not be issued against him for refusal to comply with the order for a supplemental proceedings examination. The commissioner also awarded Bremer $315 for reasonable attorney fees.
[187 Wn.App. 455] [¶12] Walker moved for revision of the December 3 supplemental proceedings examination order and the January 2 show cause order. The trial court denied this motion on January 24. The trial court also awarded Bremer $500 for reasonable attorney fees.
[¶13] Walker could not appear at the January 14 hearing because he was hospitalized, and the commissioner continued the hearing until January 23. On January 23, Bremer's attorney appeared in court but neither Walker nor his attorney appeared. The commissioner ordered the issuance of a bench warrant for Walker's arrest to bring him before the court to again show cause why he should not be convicted of contempt, and also ...