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August 13, 2009 - Washington Intentional Civil Liability

Washington intentional civil liability overview: An intentional tort results from voluntary action that is made with an intent to bring about a harmful result. Intent requires a determination of the state of mind of the defendant at the time of the action-in-question (subjective intent). Spokane Civil Liability

Comment- Don't be confused by the fact that many intentional torts, which are civil law violations, have corresponding criminal violations.
For example, there is civil battery and there is criminal battery. Also, remember that a civil infraction results in an award of damages to a plaintiff, whereas a criminal infraction may result in imprisonment of the defendant.

A. Washington Intentional Civil Liability: Types of intentional torts:

  • 1. Assault- civil assault is an attempted physical harm, or intentional threat of physical harm, that places a plaintiff in reasonable apprehension that immediate physical harm is about to occur to him. No physical contact needs to occur for a defendant to be held liable for assault.

  • 2. Battery- civil battery is an intentional harmful or offensive contact with a plaintiff causing injury.

  • 3. False imprisonment- false imprisonment is an intentional unlawful confinement of a plaintiff in a bounded area. Comment- Most jurisdictions allow shopkeepers to hold suspected shoplifters for a period long enough to determine if shoplifting has occurred or until police arrive.

  • 4. Infliction of Emotional Harm- intentional infliction of emotional harm results from intentional or reckless outrageous behavior that results in extreme emotional harm to the plaintiff. Note, in Washington, courts and books refer to this tort as the tort of outrage.

    Example- Eddie calls June and tells her, in graphic detail, that her son, Theodore, has been murdered. In fact, Theodore has not been murdered and Eddie has only done this to torment June. June suffers from nightmares and depression for months. Eddie will be liable for intentional infliction of emotional harm.

B. Washington Intentional Civil Liability Defenses to intentional torts include- a defendant accused of committing an intentional tort has a number of legally recognized defenses, including:

  • 1. Consent- a plaintiff who consented to the defendant’s activity cannot sue for damages. Consent can be express or implied.

  • I. Express consent- verbal (i.e., written or oral) communication of words granting permission for the conduct that caused the intentional tort.
    II. Implied consent- permission granted using other than verbal communication.

    Example- Mia participates in a soccer game knowing the amount of physical contact expected during a soccer game. Mia has implicitly consented to contact that is reasonable during a soccer game.

  • 2. Defense of person or property- a defendant may not be held liable for damage resulting from an intentional tort if the damage was caused in defense of himself or another or if the damage resulted from defense of property.
    Spokane Self defense

    Defense of self or a third party- a person is entitled to defend himself or others through the use of force reasonably necessary to defend himself or another. Deadly force may be used only when the assailant reasonably appears to be using or about to use deadly force.

    Comment- Some jurisdictions require that before deadly force can be used in self-defense, the person claiming self-defense must attempt to retreat from the assailant. Typically, one is not required to retreat from their own home before using deadly force.

    Defense of property- defense of property allows use of force reasonably necessary to defend one’s property. Deadly force may never be used to defend property.

  • 3. Arrest- a police officer will not be held liable for battery if during the course of executing his duties, he uses reasonable force to make an arrest of and individual whom he reasonably believes committed, or was about to commit, a crime.

The next post will explain Washingtion civil liability for defamation and violation of privacy torts.

If you have a Washington intentional civil liability claim, please contact us now!

August 25, 2009 - Spokane Landlord Tenant Law

Spokane landlord tenant law is governed in large by the Residential Landlord Tenant act as codified in title 59 of the Revised Code of Washington.

From a brief overview of the RCW and court decisions, we deduct that a leasehold estate is a present estate established by a contract (i.e., a lease) between a landlord (also referred to as a lessor) and tenant (also referred to as a lessee) which grants property rights to a tenant.

In the contract, the tenant receives a temporary possessory interest in land known as a leasehold estate.

Types of Tenancies (leases)- Spokane landlord tenant law allows for leasehold estates but divides them according to the duration of the lease. Spokane Landlord Tenant Law

Tenancy for years: a tenancy for years is a tenancy that:

   A. lasts for a period of time specified in the lease (i.e., days, months or years); and

Comment- Although a fixed period of time is stated, a tenancy for years may be terminated upon the occurrence of a specified event (e.g., failure to pay rent).

   B. terminates automatically at the end of the specified period of time. That is, unless the lease specifies otherwise, at the end of the fixed period a landlord is not required to give notice to the tenant that the tenant's rights in the land have expired. Similarly, a tenant is not required to give a landlord notice of termination.

Periodic tenancy- a periodic tenancy is a tenancy that has the following characteristics:

      A. The tenancy continues for a period of fixed duration;

      B. Succeeding periods of the same duration follow until the landlord or tenant give notice (to the other party) that the tenancy should end;

      C. Notice of termination must be given greater than one period prior to the termination date. The result of notice is that termination of the tenancy occurs on the last day of the period following notice. This requirement may or may not apply to Spokane landlord tenant law disputes (the written lease controls).

Example- Otto enters into a one-month periodic tenancy and moves into an apartment on January 1, 2008. In order to terminate the tenancy on November 30, 2008 Otto must give notice prior to October 31, 2008.

Comment- Periodic tenancy is the "default tenancy." That is, if a lease purporting to be tenancy for years fails to specify a period of time, the tenancy is assumed to be a periodic tenancy. Similarly, if a tenancy at will fails to state that a landlord or tenant can terminate the lease, a periodic tenancy is created. The period of the failed tenancy is equal to the period of time which rent is paid.

Tenancy at will- a tenancy at will is a tenancy that:
    A. has no stated period of duration, and
    B. expressly provides that either the landlord or tenant may terminate the lease at any time (i.e., at will)

At common law, tenancies at will can be terminated at any time; some state statutes require that notice be given by a landlord or tenant a specified period in advance of termination.

Tenancy at Sufferance- a holdover tenant is a tenant at sufferance. A holdover tenant is a tenant who stays beyond the fixed duration of a tenancy for years or a periodic tenancy. A holdover tenant is liable as a trespasser.

If you would like to contact an attorney with knowledge of Spokane landlord tenant law, please contact our office at 509-927-3840.


Quiroga Law Office, PLLC | Copyright Spokane Landlord Tenant Law

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