The employee in this case worked for the City of Montesano under a written employment contract. The contract provided him with severance if the City terminated him without cause.? ?The City terminated? him? without ?cause ?and ?refused ?to provide him with severance. ?The court granted the employee?s motion for summary judgment but denied him double damages and attorneys? fees incurred before filing.? ?The court of appeals affirmed the judgment in favor of the employee, granted double damages and permitted attorneys? fees for pre-filing case investigation, but not negotiations.? ?The court ruled that because the contract unambiguously provided for severance, double damages were mandatory.?? ?On the attorneys?? fees? issue,? the? court? held? that? the plaintiff was entitled to fees because the severance payments??? ?constituted??? ?wages??? ?under??? ?RCW 49.48.030.???? Relying ?on ?Int?l ?Fire ?Fighters ?v. Everett, 146 Wn.2d 29 (2002), the court held that fees could be awarded for pre-filing attorney time that was judicial in nature.? ?The court held that case evaluation was sufficiently judicial to be compensable; ?negotiations ?were ?not.??? ?Dice ?v.?Montesano, No. 32407-5-II (Feb. 22, 2006; Van Deren; Penoyar; Bridgewater).
Severance Pay is Wages Under 49.48.030; No Attorneys Fees for Pre-Filing Negotiations
Feb 22, 2006