Failla v FixtureOne Corporation (SC WA, October 2, 2014
In a dispute over unpaid wages, Washington State’s Supreme Court held that personal jurisdiction can exist over an out of state officer who had never set foot in Washington State. “[E]mploying a Washington resident to perform work in Washington constitutes the “transaction of any business within this state” under RCW 4.28.185( 1)( a)”. “we do not hold today that any corporate officer of a nonresident corporation may be subject to the state’s jurisdiction. Rather, Schutz was the officer directly responsible for the hiring, firing, promotion, and payment of Failla’s wages”.
Schultz was sued under RCW 49.52.050 and .070. Together these statutes create a cause of action against [a]ny employer or officer, vice principal or agent ojany employer . .. who … [w]ilfully and with intent to deprive the employee of any part of his or her wages, [pays] any employee a lower wage than the wage such employer is obligated to pay such employee by any statute, ordinance, or contract. RCW 49.52.050(2)
The sole dissent argued:
“The United States Supreme Court has “consistently rejected attempts to satisfy the defendant-focused ‘minimum contacts’ inquiry by demonstrating contacts between the plaintiff (or third parties) and the forum State.” ld. (emphasis added). In fact, no matter how “significant the plaintiff’s contacts with the forum may be,” they cannot be decisive when determining whether the defendant had minimum contacts. ld. As described above, the employer’s only contacts with Washington were his contacts with the plairitiff. He took no actions related to this state. The majority’s inquiry is focused on the defendant’s contact with the plaintiff, but none of those contacts related to Washington. Since the plaintiff has not demonstrated minimum contacts between the defendant and the state, there is not a sufficient basis for personal jurisdiction.”