While a body of law has emerged in Washington that permits the courts to impose fees against a party or the party’s counsel as a sanction, that body of law has not been coherently examined in the academic setting nor carefully and consistently analyzed in the case law. This Article explores and clarifies the principles underlying the imposition of attorney fees as a sanction, providing an overview of the various ways in which attorneys can be sanctioned when they screw up. The Article discusses Washington law as it applies to sanctions and briefly analyzes how Washington courts look to comparable federal law for guidance. Part II begins by analyzing Washington Civil Rule (CR) 11, which prohibits baseless filings at the trial court level. Part III turns to sanctions under RCW 4.84.185. Part IV addresses sanctions under the Rules of Appellate Procedure, and then Part V discusses sanctions related to the discovery process. The Article concludes by arguing that much of the confusion surrounding the calculation of attorney fees as a sanction will be resolved by applying the lodestar method in all four areas of the law.
Philip Talmadge, Emmelyn Hart-Biberfeld, and Peter Lohnes, When Counsel Screws Up: The Imposition and Calculation of Attorney Fees as Sanctions, 33 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 437 (2010).