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City of Everett v. Estate of Oddmund Sumstad

Supreme Court of Washington
95 Wash.2d 853 (1981)


Facts

Al and Rosemary Mitchell (defendant), owners of a small secondhand store, purchased a used safe at an auction. The safe had a locked compartment and the auction company did not have the key. It was later learned that the safe was a part of the Estate of Oddmund Sumstad (the Estate) (defendant). After they purchased the safe, the Mitchells took it to a locksmith who opened the locked compartment and found over $32,000 in cash. Thereafter, a dispute arose between the Mitchells and the Estate regarding the rightful owner of the money. The City of Everett, Washington (plaintiff) filed an interpleader action against the Mitchells and the Estate to determine who was entitled to the money found in the safe. The Mitchells and the Estate filed separate motions for summary judgment. The trial court held in favor of the Estate and ordered the money returned. The Mitchells appealed. The court of appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court and ruled that while the safe had been rightfully sold to the Mitchells, title to the cash found in the locked compartment lawfully remained with the Estate. The Supreme Court of Washington granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Dolliver, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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