Hawkins Parnell Convinces the Washington Court of Appeals to Reverse Trial Court Rulings

May 3, 2023 – Press Release

May 3, 2023 (Seattle, WA) – Hawkins Parnell & Young partner Eileen McKillop of Seattle won an appeal for a client in the Washington Court of Appeals. The appellate panel reversed the trial court's rulings resulting in a complete dismissal of the claims against the client.

The litigation arose between the client, who owns waterfront properties on Lake Washington, and a wealthy, disbarred attorney neighbor, who owns a home next to and uphill from these properties. For the past 20 years, the neighbor has persistently sued Eileen's client in multiple lawsuits for various issues, including obtaining a view over the client's properties to Lake Washington, which our client prevailed at the trial court level and on appeal.

In a 2012 lawsuit, the neighbor raised claims of view easement, outrage claims, and numerous other allegations. Eileen obtained a dismissal of all the neighbor's claims on summary judgment, arbitration, and appeal. A decade later, the neighbor filed another lawsuit with new claims, including a demand to chop 15 feet off the top of 22 arborvitae trees separating the two properties, some entirely on the client's property.

Eileen counterclaimed for damages involving trespass of the neighbor's sewer line, and footing and gutter drains running through her client's property without an easement and in violation of the Short Plat. The City issued a stop work order on the neighbor’s remodel of his new home because of the code violations.  She also sought declaratory judgment prohibiting the neighbor the right to top any arborvitae trees. Despite filing two motions for summary judgment based on res judicata and the statute of limitations, the court denied both motions, leading to a bench trial on all claims.

The trial court attempted to create new law in Washington on common boundary trees, compelling our client to allow his neighbor to cut 15 feet off the tops of all common boundary trees and four trees located solely on the client's property. The court also ordered our client to pay half the cost of the neighbor's topping of the trees and to pay for their maintenance in perpetuity.

The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's denial of the client's motion for summary judgment and the findings of fact and conclusions of law, remanding the trial court to enter a complete dismissal of the claims against the client.