Washburn v. City of Federal Way

310 P.3d 1275 (2013)

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Washburn v. City of Federal Way

Washington Supreme Court
310 P.3d 1275 (2013)

  • Written by Haley Gintis, JD

Facts

In 2008 Baerbel K. Roznowski obtained an antiharassment order against Paul Chan Kim pursuant to Revised Code of Washington Chapter 10.14. The Federal Way Police Department (the department) prepared to serve Kim with the order because Chapter 10.14 imposed on the department a duty to serve antiharassment orders. Roznowski completed a law-enforcement information sheet to inform the department that Kim was unaware of the order, had previously committed assault, would likely react violently when served, and would need a Korean interpreter. Officer Andrew Hensing served Kim while he was with Roznowski at her home. Hensing left without ensuring Roznowski’s safety. Roznowski had to explain to Kim the details of the antiharassment order because the department had failed to provide an interpreter. Later that day, Kim fatally stabbed Roznowski and took his own life. Roznowski’s daughters, Carola Washburn and Janet Loh (collectively, Washburn), sued the city of Federal Way (the city) (defendant) for negligence in a Washington trial court. The city claimed it owed no duty of care to Roznowski and moved for summary judgment. The court denied the motion. At trial, Washburn introduced several expert witnesses who testified that Hensing’s service was improper because he failed to protect Roznowski. The city continued to claim that it did not owe Roznowski a duty of care and moved for judgment as a matter of law. The court denied the motion. The trial court instructed the jury that the city owed Roznowski a duty of care. The jury found the city liable. The city appealed. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court. The matter was appealed to the Washington Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Fairhurst, J.)

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