This case study illustrates how insiders have by-passed public law and due process guarantees — and make justice in Washington State a mockery.
State Agencies Corrupt Public Law
In 2004, we were new to Washington and looking for a home. An agent from the biggest real estate firm in Washington — Windermere Real Estate — put together a home-purchase/renovation package for us. But the agent did not tell us the contractor he brought into the deal was his business partner, unlicensed and unqualified to do the work. The contractor ruined the value of the home; to add insult to injury, one of the subcontractors sued us, claiming he had not been paid. Acting pro se, we defended ourselves and countersued those responsible. Details at http://www.RenovationTrap.com.
When we complained to the Department of Licensing (DOL) about the Windermere agent, DOL refused to sanction him. We then discovered other homeowners who had a similar story: Theyʼd been ripped off by Windermere agents, complained to DOL, and DOL looked the other way.
We asked Attorney General McKenna to file a Writ of Mandamus to compel the Department of Licensing to enforce the stateʼs real estate licensing laws. The AGʼs office (AGO) wrote back that the AG would go to court only to defend DOL against such a writ!
Huh? An Attorney General who defends a government agency that flouts the public law? One Hand Washes the Other
We testified before the Legislature about the situation homeowners faced in Washington. We wrote
letters to the House and the Senate complaining about DOLʼs preferential treatment of Windermere agents. We sent one such a letter to our senator, Rodney Tom, Chair of the Senateʼs Consumer Protection and Housing Committee and Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee. Sen. Tom was not sympathetic towards us: He himself was a Windermere agent/associate broker!
Windermereʼs Rodney Tom was the Chair of the Senate Consumer Protection and Housing Committee? Isnʼt that like the fox guarding the henhouse?
Blowing the Whistle on Windermere and Its Government Cronies. We went to public events and shopping centers with signs and pamphlets warning the public about Windermere and the government corruption that protected it. We appeared on national TV: MSNBCʼs Undercover series, “The Homewreckers.” The show was broadcast nine times nationally.
At one point, Windermere offered us a settlement (for a fraction of the damages) and demanded an onerous secrecy agreement. In a nutshell: “Take down your websites, and if you ever mention your experience with Windermere to anyone, you owe us $25,000 in damages — each time you mention us.” Actual settlement demand here: http://www.renovationtrap.com/files/windermere-settlement.pdf
Certainly Windermere regarded us as enemies and our activities has harmful to Windermere.
Getting Ready for Trial. If Only Weʼd Known …
We hired a young lawyer to take us to trial. He had just joined Lane Powell, one of the Northwestʼs largest law firms.
Unfortunately, we did not know the supervisor of the young manʼs practice group at Lane Powell was the Mayor of Bellevue, Grant Degginger — who at that time was presiding over Bellevueʼs biggest building boom ever. We did not know that the Washington Association of Realtors (“REALTORS”) was Deggingerʼs largest single election contributor (and every Windermere agent was required to be a member of REALTORS). Other development interests contributed to Deggingerʼs campaign, as did the Lane Powell law firm. That is, Lane Powellʼs Grant Degginger was beholding to the very interests we were opposing. Had we known any of this, we would not have engaged the firm. But no one told us.
During the course of litigation, we asked Lane Powell to tell the court about the malfeasance of DOL and AGO, but the firm refused. We later discovered that Deggingerʼs wife, a lawyer, had worked for AGO for 18 years …
Yes, the young man we selected scored a trial victory against Windermere. But during the course of trial preparation and subsequent appeals, Lane Powell bled our case for legal fees — and then gave away important awards. As soon as we could practically do so, we dismissed Lane Powell (August 3, 2011). By then, we had already paid the firm $313,808. On the day we dismissed the firm, Lane Powell filed a lien for an additional $384,881.66 plus interest against our upcoming Windermere judgment payout.
Two months later, on October 5, 2011 (before we received the Windermere payout), Lane Powell sued us for breaking our contract — and for the additional $384,881.66 plus interest — even though Lane Powell had promised in the contract not to demand the fees until after the Windermere judgment was paid.
“Judge Windermere” Assigned to Lane Powellʼs Lawsuit. If Only Weʼd Known …
The question before the presiding judge would be this: Would we, the Windermere victims, be the beneficiaries of our trial court win against Windermere? Or would Lane Powell be the beneficiary? If Lane Powell could absorb the lionʼs share of the award, a lesson would be taught the public: “Sue Windermere? Even if you win, you will lose.”
According to the King County Superior Court webpage, “A judge is randomly assigned by the clerk at the time of filing.” At the time Lane Powell filed its suit there were 32 (thirty-two) judges sitting on Bench.
Only one (1) was married to a Windermere agent/broker, enjoyed a marital share in the Windermere real estate commissions she earned, and was a beneficiary of the Windermere Retirement Plan.
That judge was Richard D. Eadie. And, SURPRISE! Lane Powellʼs lawsuit against two Windermere whistleblowers was assigned to Richard D. Eadie, the Windermere beneficiary. Against 32-1 odds …
From our very first pleading, we told Judge Eadie about our history as whistle blowers against Windermere and the corruption of the captive regulatory agencies. http://www.renovationtrap.com/ In violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Judge Eadie did not disclose his Windermere connections to us.
On the same day Lane Powell filed suit, it served discovery requests demanding we produce all communications we had with our attorneys on any subject whatsoever — not just matters pertaining to Lane Powellʼs lawsuit — thereby waiving all attorney-client confidentiality on all subjects. The message was clear: “Pay up, or your confidences will be published in court.” We believe thatʼs extortion under color of law. http://www.everyones-business.org/
Lane Powell told provable and repeated lies to Judge Eadie; when we provided documentation exposing the lies, Eadie simply ignored it and incorporated the lies in his rulings. He hammered us with one unfair decision after another. After ten months of this punishment, we found out about his Windermere connection and asked him to recuse (step down). He refused.
Extortion Under Color of Law. As for the confidences that Lane Powell threatened publish: Judge Eadie first granted, and then denied he had granted, discovery protection. Throughout, we refused to waive our attorney-client privilege. In defiance of the laws safeguarding privilege, Judge Eadie declared we were in
contempt of court for refusing to relinquish our confidential information and that, by refusing, we had stymied Lane Powellʼs case against us. He then used our refusal to waive our privilege to dismiss our defenses and counter claims. He held a Summary Judgment hearing on November 16, 2012, finding for Lane Powell. Four witnesses at that hearing swore out affidavits attesting to the Judge Eadieʼs obvious disregard for truth and prejudice in favor of Lane Powell. Ultimately, Judge Eadie awarded $842,734.67 to ex-Mayor Degginger and his colleagues at Lane Powell.
The message to other would-be Windermere whistleblowers? “Sue Windermere? Even if you win, you will lose.”
Who says cases arenʼt fixed in Washington?
We appealed Judge Eadieʼs refusal to recuse, using an excellent lawyer, James Lobsenz of Carney Badley Spellman, an expert on judicial recusal. The Court of Appeals misrepresented the issue on appeal, and then found against us — on the basis of its own misrepresentation. We then went to the Supreme Court. But even knowing that Judge Eadie kept his Windermere connections secret while hearing a lawsuit against two Windermere whistleblowers, that Lane Powell lied in court, that Judge Eadie had knowingly incorporated those lies into his rulings, and that the four citizens witnessed the judgeʼs prejudicial conduct during the Summary Judgment hearing — the Supreme Court refused to grant us an appeal. (Story at http://www.everyones-business.org)
And Grant Degginger has been appointed to chair of the Public Disclosure Commission … It all passes for justice in the State of Washington.
We have filed a Complaint with the Washington State Bar Association — complete with more that 4,000 pages of documentation. (Synopsis at http://www.everyones-business.org/BarReport/Synopsis.pdf ) But WSBA will take no action, stating we have “insufficient evidence” of the misconduct.
And it all passes for justice in the State of Washington. Written by Carol & Mark DeCoursey *
The Gold Bar Reporters are proud supporters of those who dedicate their lives to fighting the criminalS who are ruining our democracy. Carol and Mark are ” Gold Bar Reporters Citziens of 2015″