Self-Serving Declarations (WA State)
Under Washington State laws, must a nonmoving party's "self-serving" declaration be taken as true on summary judgment in a civil lawsuit? Here's my point of view (NOTE: please read our DISCLAIMER before proceeding).
SUMMARY JUDGMENT: CIVIL CASES
In my Washington State employment law practice (I only represent employee-plaintiffs), employer-defendants typically file motions for summary judgment against my clients. "Summary judgment is a judgment entered by a court for one party and against another party without a full trial." Summary Judgment, Cornell Law School: Legal Information Institute, https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/summary_judgment (last visited July 31, 2021). "In civil cases, either party may make a pre-trial motion for summary judgment." Id.
In Washington, "[s]ummary judgment is appropriate if a plaintiff fails to show sufficient evidence to establish a question of fact as to the existence of an element on which he or she will have the burden of proof at trial." Mackey v. Home Depot USA, Inc., 12 Wn.App.2d 557, 569 (Div. 2 2020), review denied, 468 P.3d 616 (2020) (citing Lake Chelan Shores Homeowners Ass'n v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 176 Wn.App. 168, 179, 313 P.3d 408 (2013)).
SELF-SERVING DECLARATIONS (WA STATE)
When defending against motions for summary judgment, my clients often file declarations that employers claim are "self-serving." Fortunately, "on summary judgment a nonmoving party's declaration must be taken as true and can create a genuine issue of material fact even if it is "self-serving." Id. at 575 (citing Reagan v. Newton, 7 Wn.App.2d 781, 806, 436 P.3d 411, review denied, 193 Wn.2d 1030 (2019)) (emphasis added). However, "[a] plaintiff cannot contradict unambiguous deposition testimony with a subsequent declaration." Id. at 587, fn. 3 (citing Robinson v. Avis Rent A Car Sys., Inc., 106 Wn.App. 104, 121, 22 P.3d 818 (2001)).
Thus, under Washington State laws, I believe that a nonmoving party's "self-serving" declaration must be taken as true on summary judgment of a civil lawsuit.
If you would like to learn more, then consider contacting an experienced Washington State Employment Discrimination Attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. Please note: the information contained in this article is not offered as legal advice and will not form an attorney-client relationship with either this author or Williams Law Group, PS; please see our DISCLAIMER.