The plaintiff, a Washington resident, emailed the CEO of FixtureOne Corp. about a sales job. The Company and the CEO were based in Pennsylvania and had no Washington presence. The nature of the company?s business allows its employees to live anywhere and do their jobs via internet and telephone. FixtureOne hired plaintiff as a sales representative. She worked from her home in Washington for 18 months. She left after the company failed to pay her commissions she believed were due her. She filed suit against both the company and CEO in Washington under RCW 49.52. She never served the company so the suit proceeded against the CEO. The plaintiff moved for summary judgment on liability.? ?The CEO moved for summary ?judgment ?based ?on ?lack ?of ?personal jurisdiction.??? ?The ?trial ?granted?? the ?plaintiff?s motion and denied the CEO?s. The court of appeals reversed, ?holding? there ?was ?no ?personal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals. Writing for a majority of eight, Justice Yu held Washington ?had ?personal ?jurisdiction ?over? the CEO. The Court agreed with the CEO that the corporation?s actions could not be imputed to him for minimum contacts. But at the same time the CEO?s contacts were imputable to him even if they occurred ?within ?the? scope? of? his ?employment. Here the CEO was also the person who hired the plaintiff. ?He? set ?the? plaintiff?s ?salary, ?promoted her, gave her a raise and calculated her commissions. It made no difference that neither he nor the company targeted potential consumers in Washington.
The Court made clear it was not holding that Washington could exercise personal jurisdiction over every non-resident corporate officer.?? It did hold that it is ?not unreasonable to require a company that knowingly employees a Washington resident to abide by this state?s wage laws, nor is it unreasonable to require the individual responsible for payroll to answer for failing to comply with those laws.? On the merits, the Justices ruled the court had correctly entered summary judgment for the employee. ?It held that the CEO exercised ultimate control of the business?s finances, but knowingly failed to pay the plaintiff. Justice?? Owens? ?dissented? ?on? ?the?? jurisdiction question ?based ?on ?Walden ?v. ?Fiore, ?134 ?S. ?Ct. 1115 (2014), a case the majority found easily distinguishable.
Failla v. FixtureOne Corp., — Wn.2d —, — P.3d—- (10/2/14)