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Hopkins v. Washington State Department of Labor and Industries

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 2

December 3, 2019

STEVEN G. HOPKINS and SPOUSE, Appellants,
v.
WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRIES, Respondent.

          MELNICK, J.

         The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) issued a notice and order of assessment asserting personal liability against Steven Hopkins and his spouse, collectively Hopkins.[1] L&I sought unpaid workers' compensation premiums from a company that Hopkins previously owned but which had dissolved. After exhausting his administrative remedies, Hopkins sought review in superior court. The court affirmed the assessment, and Hopkins appealed to this court.

         Hopkins argues that the statute of limitations precludes L&I's assessment because the premiums assessed "became due" more than three years before L&I issued the assessment.

         We affirm.

         FACTS

         Hopkins owned 50 percent of Frontier Contractors, Inc. (Frontier), a Washington corporation. At all relevant times, he had the responsibility of filing Frontier's workers' compensation returns.

         In 2010, L&I issued a notice and order of assessment against Frontier under RCW 51.48.120[2] (the Frontier Assessment). The Frontier Assessment assessed unpaid premiums, penalties, and interest against Frontier for the fourth quarter of 2006 through the third quarter of 2009. Frontier appealed the Frontier Assessment to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (the Board).

         In 2012, the Board issued an order which slightly modified the Frontier Assessment. Frontier did not appeal, and the order became binding at that time.

         Shortly thereafter, Frontier ceased doing business, and the Secretary of State administratively dissolved Frontier on July 1, 2013.

         In 2015, L&I issued a notice and order of assessment against Hopkins in his personal capacity under RCW 51.48.055[3] (the Hopkins Assessment) for the amount Frontier owed at the time of its dissolution. At the conclusion of the administrative appeals process, the Board affirmed the Hopkins Assessment in full. It concluded that "Hopkins willfully failed to pay or cause to be paid premiums owed to [L&I] between February 12, 2012, and July 1, 2013." Clerk's Papers (CP) at 17. The Board made findings of fact supporting its conclusion. It held Hopkins personally liable for $60, 193.73.

         Hopkins appealed to superior court. The court affirmed. Hopkins appeals.

         ANALYSIS

         Hopkins contends that the Hopkins Assessment "became due" in 2009, over three years before L&I issued the assessment in 2015. Therefore, Hopkins argues the statute of limitations precludes the assessment.

         L&I argues that the statute of limitations does not preclude the Hopkins Assessment. According to L&I, the statute of limitations was triggered when Frontier dissolved because it could not have asserted personal ...


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