Getting the Lawsuit Tossed in Vancouver, Washington

Updated: Sep 11

This article discusses two motions for getting a lawsuit dismissed that any Washington business should understand.

Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Cause of Action

Rule 12(b)(6) of the WA Rules of Civil Procedure allows a motion to dismiss a lawsuit for failure to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. What this means is that, even assuming everything in the plaintiff's lawsuit is true, the judge finds that the allegations do not give rise to a recognized legal right to sue the defendant for damages.

"...even assuming everything in the plaintiff's lawsuit is true...."

For example, a WA business has a bad interaction with a customer. An employee of the WA business says something that hurts the customer's feelings. Although most would agree it's not moral to be hurtful to others, the law doesn't allow one to recover damages from someone for hurting their feelings. Therefore, if that interaction was described in a lawsuit, the judge could assume the plaintiff was telling the truth and still dismiss the lawsuit against the WA business.

Because the standard involves an assumption that the allegations in the complaint are true, a WA judge can grant this motion before any money is spent on discovery, such as depositions. If it doesn't state a cause of action, the lawsuit gets tossed.

Summary Judgment

If the lawsuit isn't dismissed from the beginning, the discovery process may discover enough evidence that would lead a judge to dismiss it. According to Rule 56 of the WA Rules of Civil Procedure, either party can move for summary judgment at the close of discovery. Summary judgment is an order from the court declaring one party the winner of a case before it goes to a jury. A judge would do this where the evidence obtained through the discovery process makes it clear that one party is entitled to a judgment in their favor, and thus there is no need to have a jury decide the case.

"Summary judgment is an order from the court declaring one party the winner of a case before it goes to a jury."

A judge in Washington will grant a motion for summary judgment where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact in the case, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The parties don't have to agree on every fact, but only the facts material to deciding the law in the case.

For example, two Washington businesses contract to do business together. One of them stops performing under the contract because they feel contract law doesn't require them to keep performing because of something the other party did. The two businesses agree that one of them stopped performing. But they need a judge to decide who is right about the law, not the facts of the case. Thus a jury (the fact-finding body) is unnecessary, and summary judgment is appropriate.

If you have more questions about ways to have a lawsuit dismissed in Vancouver, Washington, please contact In-house | On-site to speak with a Vancouver, WA lawyer.

46 views0 comments