Sunday, December 8, 2013

Vasquez v. Hawthorne case brief

Vasquez v. Hawthorne case brief summary
33 P.3d 735 (2001)

A trial court held that plaintiff had proved he was involved in a long-term, stable, cohabiting relationship with the decedent. The trial court further found the property acquired during the relationship was the joint property of plaintiff and the decedent, and that it passed to plaintiff upon the decedent's death. The Washington Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's summary judgment decision. Plaintiff sought review.

The instant court concluded that the trial court erred in resolving this case on summary judgment. It was also error for the appellate court to reach the merits of the case. The record on summary judgment was inadequate to reach the legal issue presented. The nature of the relationship between plaintiff and the decedent was disputed. Plaintiff, who presented claims for equitable relief under several theories, including meretricious relationship, implied partnership, and equitable trust, presented affidavits asserting he and the decedent were a same sex couple. Defendant, the decedent's estate, offered affidavits contending that plaintiff and the decedent were not a same sex couple and did not hold themselves out as such. From the affidavits, the trial court could not determine what type of relationship existed between plaintiff and the decedent. Nor could the trial court conclude what property acquired during the course of their relationship could be subject to equitable division.

The instant court directed the trial court to weigh the evidence to determine whether plaintiff established his claim for equitable relief.

The instant court vacated the decision of the appellate court, reversed the trial court's granting of plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment, and remanded this case for trial.

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