On February 28, 2018, Engrossed House Bill 1128 (“EHB 1128”), was passed by the Washington Senate.[i] Having previously passed through the House, the bill will now reach the desk of Governor Jay Inslee. EHB 1128 significantly expands the jurisdiction of Washington’s mandatory civil arbitration (“MAR,” governed by RCW 7.06 et seq.). Previously, only cases involving a damages claim of $50,000 or less were able to be moved into MAR by plaintiff’s counsel. EHB 1128 doubles the damages ceiling to $100,000 for all cases filed on or after September 1, 2018.
The expedited schedule and limited discovery that comes with MAR can create unique challenges for litigation defendants and counsel. EHB 1128 does add a new section to RCW 7.06(2), which provides for certain discovery—specifically, requests for admission, party depositions, and the ability to request a CR 35 exam or interrogatories from the arbitrator. However, passage of the bill would have a real impact on how claims are litigated in Washington.
Check back in with the DREX blog for updates on the governor’s decision, details on potential implications of the law, and discussion of strategies and best practices for insurers and defense counsel litigating MAR cases.
[i] The full text of EHB 1128, as passed by the Washington Senate, can be found here.