United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' AND PLAINTIFF'S
MOTIONS FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES
BARBARA J. ROTHSTEIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court yet again is the topic of attorneys' fees. The
Court previously denied a motion by Defendants seeking
attorneys' fees for having to oppose Plaintiffs
unsuccessful motion for reconsideration of the Court's
order dismissing this matter for lack of personal
jurisdiction. Undeterred, Defendants have moved again for
attorneys' fees. In response, Plaintiff seeks
attorneys' fees based on Defendants' second motion
for attorneys' fees.
reviewed the motions, the oppositions thereto, the record of
the case, and the relevant legal authorities, the Court will
deny both requests and consider this matter closed. The
reasoning for the Court's decision follows.
Court has discussed the background of this matter previously.
See Dkt. No. 21 at 1-4; Dkt. No. 27 at 1-3. In
brief, the heart of the matter involves the souring of a
business relationship between the parties to develop software
for an application targeted to the trucking industry.
See Dkt. No. 21 at 2. The actual cause of action,
however, was Plaintiffs claim that Defendants wiretapped and
recorded a phone call in violation of Revised Code of
Washington ("RCW") 9.73.030 and the common law tort
of Invasion of Privacy. See Dkt. No. 1-1 at
¶¶ 41-49. On September 9, 2019, the Court dismissed
the matter for lack of personal jurisdiction and the case was
formally closed. Dkt. No. 21.
moved the Court for reconsideration. Dkt. No. 22. In
response, Defendants opposed reconsideration and moved the
Court for attorneys' fees citing Washington Superior
Court Civil Rule ("CR") 11 and RCW 4.84.185. Dkt.
No. 26. According to Defendants, both Plaintiffs motion for
reconsideration and his entire case were frivolous warranting
attorneys' fees. Id. at 8-11. The Court denied
both Plaintiffs motion for reconsideration and
Defendants' motion for attorneys' fees, and while
only citing to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
("FRCP") 11, specifically stated that the sanction
of attorneys' fees was not warranted in this situation.
Dkt. No. 27 at 4.
however, noting the Court's reference solely to FRCP 11,
move the Court for attorneys' fees again this time
focusing on RCW 4.84.185 claiming that Plaintiffs complaint
in this matter was frivolous. Dkt. No. 29. Plaintiff, in
response, oppose Defendants' motion for attorneys'
fees and move for attorneys' fees claiming that
Defendants' motion for attorneys' fees itself is
frivolous based on the Court's previous denial of
attorneys' fees. Dkt. No. 31.
4.84.185 provides for the awarding of "reasonable
expenses, including fees of attorneys" where the Court,
"upon written findings," determines that an action
"was frivolous and advanced without reasonable
cause." Wash. Rev. Code § 4.84.185. As compared to
CR 11, which targets "baseless filings," RCW
4.84.185's purpose is to "discourage frivolous
lawsuits and to compensate the targets of such lawsuits for
fees and expenses incurred in fighting meritless cases."
Haley v. Hume, 448 P.3d 803, 814 (Wash.Ct.App. 2019)
(quoting Biggs v. Vail, 830 P.2d 350, 354 (Wash.
frivolous action is one that cannot be supported by any
rational argument on the law or facts." Hanna v.
Margitan, 373 P.3d 300, 308 (Wash.Ct.App. 2016) (quoting
Rhinehart v. Seattle Times, Inc., 798 P.2d 1155,
1160 (Wash.Ct.App. 1990)). To be considered frivolous,
"[t]he action must be frivolous in its entirety."
Leahy v. Edmonds Sch. Dist., No. 07-1970, 2009 WL
529577, at *1 (W.D. Wash. Mar. 2, 2009) (citing
Biggs, 830 P.2d at 352).
parties have now often quoted, the Court in its order
dismissing this matter for lack of personal jurisdiction
stated that "[t]his is a unique case, and the Court is
hard-pressed to find its kin." Dkt. No. 21 at 7. While
the Court ultimately found that it did not have personal
jurisdiction over the Defendants, the facts involving a
cross-country teleconference presented a difficult question
regarding the application of Washington's expansive
wiretap law. This was not a frivolous endeavor on Plaintiffs
part. The Court made no written findings, as required by RCW
4.84.185, that the suit was frivolous, nor did its order
suggest frivolity. As such, Defendants' motions for
attorneys' fees will be denied.
now seeks attorneys' fees for having to oppose
Defendants' second motion for attorneys' fees, which
motion Plaintiff claims is frivolous. The Court will deny
Plaintiffs motion as well. What is truly frivolous is
counsels' prolonging this lawsuit in a battle over