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Vasquez v. Hawthorne

Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc
33 P.3d 735 (2001)


Frank Vasquez (plaintiff) lived with Robert Schwerzler for approximately 26 years. They also worked in a business together. According to Vasquez, the men were lifetime romantic and business partners who shared their household and assets. That said, the house the men lived in, two automobiles, a life insurance policy, and a checking account were all held in Schwerzler’s name. When he died without a will, Vasquez filed a claim against his estate for a share of community property. The representative of the estate, Joseph Hawthorne (defendant), denied the claim. Vasquez filed suit against Hawthorne, asserting equitable theories including meretricious relationship, implied partnership, and equitable trust. Hawthorne defended the estate with evidence that Vasquez and Schwerzler maintained separate bedrooms and took separate vacations, and that the business was inherited by Schwerzler with Vasquez serving merely as a handyman. The trial court granted partial summary judgment to Vasquez on the meretricious relationship claim. The court of appeals reversed on the grounds that the meretricious relationship doctrine applies only to opposite-sex couples. Vasquez appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Johnson, J.)

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