Facts: After petitioner Deanna Kraft’s former husband filed for bankruptcy and ceased making payments pursuant to a small business loan made by respondent Wachovia S.B.A. Lending, Inc. that Kraft had co-signed, Wachovia filed suit against Kraft in the Superior Court for Pierce County seeking to recover the deficiency. After the trial court granted Wachovia’s subsequent motion for voluntary dismissal without prejudice and denied Kraft’s motion for attorney’s fees, Kraft appealed, asserting that the case should have been dismissed with prejudice as it was time barred and that she should have been awarded attorney’s fees as the prevailing party. The Washington Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision, holding that an order of voluntary dismissal without prejudice is not appealable and that Kraft was not a prevailing party under Washington Revised Code §4.84.330, which governs awards of attorney’s fees in cases in which unilateral attorney’s fees contract provisions apply. Kraft appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Washington.
Question(s): Did the trial court properly dismiss Wachovia’s suit without prejudice?
Is Kraft a prevailing party entitled to attorney’s fees under §4.84.330?
Conclusion: Justice Stephens’ opinion for a unanimous Court held that the trial court properly dismissed Wachovia’s suit without prejudice rather than with prejudice as the suit was not barred by the statute of limitations. The Court also concluded that Kraft was not entitled to attorney’s fees under §4.84.330 as Kraft had not obtained a favorable final judgment insofar as voluntary dismissal of the case without prejudice was not a final judgment.
Petitioner: Deanna D. Kraft
Respondent: Wachovia SBA Lending, Inc.
- Amicus of Harold Hartinger
- Answer to Petition for Review
- Appellant Brief
- Petition for Review
- Reply to Answer to Petition for Review
- Reply to Response
- Respondent Brief
- Response to Motion for Leave to Strike
- Statement of Additional Authority
- Statement of Additional Authority By Amicus Hartinger
- Supplemental Brief of Respondent
Argument: Thursday, May 29, 2008 1:30pm
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, January 15th, 2009
Prevailing Party: Wachovia SBA Lending, Inc. (Respondent)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.