12101 Ambaum Boulevard SW
Seattle, WA 98146
Driving Don’t Mix
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rather than treating cost decisions as a
litigation afterthought.” 21 These wake-up
calls are beneficial to obtaining fair and
just fee-shifting awards. The mention of
“block billing” in only the second published Washington opinion is helpful,
although the court could have done more
Unfortunately, the Berryman opin-
ion’s tone and its effort to rein in the use
of multipliers where otherwise appropri-
ate are likely to encourage mischief by
parties seeking to avoid responsibility
for reasonable fee-shifting fees. At the
outset, it is likely to affect the Washing-
ton jurisprudence of fee-shifting fees,
perhaps in unanticipated ways. Given
the Berryman court’s apparent willing-
ness to go beyond just remanding for
adequate findings as often done in other
cases, to analyzing the reasonableness of
attorneys’ time, hourly rates and the dif-
ficulties of the case, more appeals of fee
awards are likely. NWL
his J. D. at
and his LL. M.
School of Law.
He is a civil
trial lawyer in
his 42nd year
yer ethics relating to attorney fees.
He can be reached at michaelc@
michaelcaryl.com. Lee Raaen has
been a Washington lawyer since
1975, focusing on civil litigation.
He has written articles and made
presentations at CLEs and the
WSBA Ethics School on ethical
issues involving attorney’s fees and
fee agreements. He can be reached
1. Review was denied by the Supreme Court on
March 5, 2014. 179 Wn.2d 1026; 2014 Wash.
2. “The ‘lodestar’ fee is determined by multiplying
the hours reasonably expended in the litigation
by each lawyer’s reasonable hourly rate of compensation.” Absher Constr. Co. v. Kent Sch. Dist.,
79 Wn. App. 841, 847, 905 P.2d 1229 (1995).
Certain types of legal work performed by non-lawyer staff can be included. North Coast Elec.
Co. v. Selig, 136 Wn. App. 636, 643-44, 151 P.3d
3. The court’s opinion exceeds 23 pages, all
dedicated to a small, uncomplicated soft tissue personal injury claim whose importance is
minimized in the opinion. In rejecting the trial
judge’s approval of the lodestar fee, the court
goes into fine detail in rejecting the multiplier
awarded, discussing a total of 13 cases, including a U.S. Supreme Court opinion and four
prominent Washington Supreme Court cases
involving multipliers, and identifying and discussing by result, what may be every published
decision in Washington where a multiplier was
4. Bowers v. Transamerica Title Ins. Co., 100
Wn.2d 58, 675 P.2d 193 (1983).
5. Farmers appealed the exclusion of trial testimony of the biomechanical expert witness,
Alan Tencer, and certain photographs of the