The plaintiff was a Latino school district employee.? ?The school district claimed she had submitted time sheets for hours not worked.?? The superintendent had ordered her paid while the falsified time records claim was being investigated. Two?? employees?? initiated?? an?? executive?? board session over the claim that school funds were being misused.? ?Several employees claimed that the plaintiff was having an affair with the superintendent.? ?The State Auditor cleared the employee of wrongdoing regarding the timesheet and refused to investigate the sexual liaison allegation. ?The district made no effort to stop the rumors about the affair.?? The jury found for the plaintiff on her claims for national origin discrimination, retaliation, negligent infliction of emotional distress and defamation regarding the affair.
The district appealed only the defamation verdict and the Blaney enhancement.?? The court found sufficient evidence on all elements and held the plaintiff was a private figure for this claim. The court disagreed that the district had defeated the plaintiff?s claim that it referred her to the Auditor because of her national origin. ?It held that the claim was the school district had targeted her because of her national origin from the get go. ?The plaintiff raised the Blaney award in her motion for????????? attorneys?? ?fees? ?but? ?did? ?not? ?submit? ?a declaration on the amount until her reply.?? The trial court reduced the requested hourly rate by 20% and then asked for supplemental filing on the appropriate amount of fees and costs. ?After the plaintiff submitted her counsel?s declaration, the district claimed for the first time that it did not have enough notice of the claimed Blaney award.?? It did not ask for time to hire its own expert.?? The appeals court held that the district waived its objections to the late-notification of the? ?Blaney? ?amount.?????? The? ?appellate? ?court disagreed with the plaintiff that interest on a judgment for a WLAD claim was the 12% contract rate. ?It held that a WLAD claim is a tort claim subject to the lower interest rate for tort claims. ?Valdez-Zontek v. Eastmont School Dist., Div. III 154 Wn. App. 147, 225 P.3d 339 (2010) (Brown, Kulik, Sweeny)