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Larson Motors, Inc. v. Snypp

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 2

March 20, 2018

LARSON MOTORS, INC., Respondent,
v.
PAUL SNYPP, Appellant.

          SUTTON, J.

         Paul Snypp appeals the superior court's order granting partial summary judgment to Larson Motors, Inc., and entering judgment against him. Snypp argues that Larson Motors recorded telephone calls they had with him without his permission, that the telephone calls were private, and the calls were not admissible. He also argues that there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether he authorized the car repairs made by Larson Motors. Thus, he argues that the superior court erred by granting partial summary judgment to Larson Motors, awarding Larson Motors its attorney fees and costs, and entering judgment against Snypp. Larson Motors cross appeals, arguing that the superior court abused its discretion by denying its motion to sanction Snypp for his alleged perjury.

         We hold that the recorded telephone calls that Snypp had with Larson Motors were private and that the calls were not admissible at summary judgment. Because there are genuine issues of material fact as to whether Snypp authorized the car repairs, we reverse the superior court's order granting partial summary judgment and we reverse the related judgment in its entirety. Further, because the superior court did not abuse its discretion by not sanctioning Snypp, we affirm the superior court's order denying Larson Motors' motion for sanctions. Lastly, we deny both parties' request for attorney fees on appeal.

         FACTS

         Larson Motors performed repairs on Snypp's car in February and April of 2015. On February 11, Snypp brought the car in for an oil change and for other repairs that Snypp claims Larson Motors previously said it would fix at the next scheduled appointment. Snypp later claimed that he changed his mind and called Larson Motors the next day to cancel the repairs, but that the repair work had already been done without his authorization. Then, on February 19, Snypp took his car back to Larson Motors because his car was having a different problem.

         Snypp and Larson Motors also spoke over the telephone in March and April to discuss the car repairs. Snypp admits that he authorized Larson Motors to "install new belts" during a telephone conversation and claims that Larson Motors said it would not charge him. Clerk's Papers (CP) at 92. On April 13, Snypp retrieved his car and Larson Motors charged him for the repair work done.

         After Larson Motors had completed the car repairs, it provided Snypp with invoices totaling $892.00 for February's repairs and $8, 189.42 for April's repairs. Snypp paid the invoices, but later disputed both charges with his credit card company and the credit card company reversed both transactions. Thus, Larson Motors was never paid.

         Larson Motors sued Snypp alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment. Larson Motors sought damages in the amount of $9, 081.42 for the car repair work and requested an award of reasonable attorney fees and costs under RCW 4.84.250.[1] In his answer to the complaint, Snypp alleged that the repair work was not authorized by him.

         After Snypp refused to pay the February invoice, Larson Motors recorded their telephone calls with Snypp on March 17 and April 2 without Snypp's knowledge. The transcripts of the telephone recordings do not contain any authorization by Snypp permitting the telephone calls to be recorded. Larson Motors claims that these recorded telephone calls prove that Snypp authorized the car repairs. During Snypp's deposition, counsel for Larson Motors asked Snypp multiple times whether he had any conversations with the dealership that were "secret, " and whether he said anything to Larson Motors that Snypp "wouldn't tell the judge, " or whether Snypp did not want any calls "documented." CP at 94, 95. Snypp replied, "No" to these questions and stated that he wished that the communications had been documented.[2] CP at 94, 95, 97.

         Larson Motors filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims and argued that the car repairs were made based on Snypp's authorization. Snypp responded that he did not authorize the car repairs and that because there were genuine issues of material fact, partial summary judgment was not appropriate. Snypp also filed a declaration that disputed whether he authorized the February and April car repairs.

         Larson Motors filed a motion for sanctions under CR 11, CR 26, CR 37, and RCW 7.21.010, as well as under the superior court's inherent ability to sanction bad faith litigation. Larson Motors argued that Snypp had lied under oath and that he should be sanctioned. In support of the motion for sanctions, Larson Motors sought to admit the transcripts of the recorded telephone calls.

         In response, Snypp filed a motion to strike the transcripts of the recorded telephone calls and all documents attached to Larson Motors' motion for summary judgment that reference the telephone calls. In his declaration attached to the response, Snypp stated that the recorded telephone calls were intended to be private, that he had no knowledge that the calls were being recorded at that time, and that the transcripts that Larson Motors sought to admit lacked the authorization to allow the calls to be recorded as required under RCW 9.73.030 and .050.

         The superior court denied Snypp's motion to strike, but declined to consider the recorded telephone calls, stating, "I don't know how you [Larson Motors] get around RCW [9.J73.030." Verbatim Report of Proceedings (VRP) (8/19/16) at 18. After a hearing, the superior court granted partial summary judgment to Larson Motors, but denied Larson Motors' motion for sanctions.

         Larson Motors then filed a motion requesting an award of attorney fees and costs. After a hearing, the superior court ruled that Larson Motors was the prevailing party under RCW 4.84.010, .030, and 4.84.250-.280. VRP (9/16/26) at 16. The superior court entered judgment against Snypp in the amount of $9, 081.42 for the car repair work and awarded $30, 350.73 in attorney fees and costs to Larson Motors. Subsequently, the superior court amended the order granting partial summary judgment and certified the partial summary judgment order as a final judgment for appeal under CR 54(b).

         Snypp appeals the order granting partial summary judgment, the award of attorney fees and costs, and the judgment entered against him in the amount of $39, 432.15. Larson Motors ...


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