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Michael James Pratum

Michael Pratum’s Answers

73 total

  • Do I have basis for legal action?

    I bought a bunkbed from a company called PriceCo around six months ago. On Christmas as I was leaning over to tuck my son in, the side support beam on the bottom bunk broke. My leg banged into it, ended up bruised. Both boys were in bed at the tim...

    Michael’s Answer


    Some companies are just out to sell their product and won't offer refunds for defective products, only repair or replacement. If they offer one of those remedies, in my opinion, it isn't worth your time to pursue legal action. "Legal basis" as you say is a broad term and you haven't given us enough facts to exhaustively evaluate that and give you a definitive answer. Is there a possible avenue for legal redress? Well, maybe. Is it worth your time? In my opinion, nope.

    I don't know what resources you have, but proving the product has a safety defect such that it should be removed from the stream of commerce is a very labor intensive task, and more often a failure than a success. Best option for you? In my opinion, let them fix it. Ask them for a letter stating that the bed is safe. Then list it on Craigslist and get rid of it and buy something else. Then go on the web and state your complaint about it being unsafe. Amazon and other retail sites that sell it (assuming you find such sellers for this product) allow product reviews. Why not go at it that way? Tell others about your experience with the product. Lots of buyers read those reviews (I do).

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  • How many days out from the date of service do you have to give the other party to schedule a motion for default hearing? 14? 20?

    I filled a motion for default for January 13th but the courts just called and said I wrote 2013 instead of 2014 and need to re-file. Can I just write amended at the top of the motion and re-submit? Do I have to serve the other party again with all...

    Michael’s Answer


    As Robert aptly stated in his answer, and putting it in a way that addresses your wording in your question, you do not have to "schedule" a motion for a default, if the opposing party failed to appear or answer within 20 days of receiving your petition or complaint. Correct the error as Robert stated, refile the motion without serving the party in default, and go get your order of default (in Ex Parte, like Robert said). You go straight to Ex Parte, not the Clerk. After the order is signed, you file the motion and order in the Clerk's office. (The Judicial Assistant can take your paperwork and advise you how it will proceed in the courtroom.)

    After all that, you WILL need to serve a copy of the Order of Default on the other party.

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  • What court do I submit a Request to Reverse & Remand if I've found new evidence to prove my case, is it the 1st, or 2nd?

    I recently found new evidence that proves the courts erred when deciding a case because the respondent had deleted viable evidence. If the issue was heard in CLJ, Superior Court, and Court of Appeals, which court do I send the Request to Reverse &...

    Michael’s Answer

    RAP 12.4, in relevant part, is quoted below:

    RULE 12.4

    (a) Generally. A party may file a motion for reconsideration only of a
    decision by the judges (1) terminating review, or (2) granting or denying a
    personal restraint petition on the merits. The motion should be in the form and
    be served and filed as provided in rules 17.3(a), 17.4(a) and (g), and 18.5,
    except as otherwise provided in this rule. A party may not file a motion for
    reconsideration of an order refusing to modify a ruling by the commissioner or
    clerk, nor may a party file a motion for reconsideration of a Supreme Court
    order denying a petition for review.

    (b) Time. The party must file the motion for reconsideration within 20
    days after the decision the party wants reconsidered is filed in the appellate court.

    Your question is unclear as to other things you ask.

    Misconduct by the other party or newly discovered evidence, which could not have been discovered prior to the filing or your original appeal, may be grounds for a new appeal. "May" is the operative word here. In my opinion, if your situation fits this category, and it has not been more than a year since the entry of the trial court's judgment or order after trial, your avenue for redress may (there's that word again) be Civil Rule 60. Take a look at that and decide if you are going to try to file a motion in Superior Court to set aside or vacate the verdict or judgment. These are not simple or easy things to determine, and I certainly am not saying any of these remedies is still available or appropriate in your case, since these are very fact and case specific decisions.

    The Rules of Appeal can be found here

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  • If I post my Facebook, Is It wrong?

    My husband left me and my daughter few years. We both are in H1B and the reason he walked off was he wanted a male child. I was depressed due to this and posted on Face Book with the picture of my baby that she was left because she is a girl child...

    Michael’s Answer

    Hi, your question has a lot of things to be concerned about from an attorney's perspective. But to answer the question, I suggest you remove the post from Facebook. And in the future, please do not post anything on Facebook or other social media about your family situation or your daughter, or the divorce, assuming you file for that. It is not a "right" or "wrong" thing, it is a "good" or "bad" thing in terms of maintaining privacy, and confidentiality for your daughter as well as not putting anything in writing that might be used against you in court during your divorce.

    If you don't have a divorce filed, and if you don't have any temporary order or Parenting Plan in place that is signed by a judge or court commissioner, you can keep your daughter and not send her to visit her father. If you have a reason to believe the father may not return your daughter, it is in your daughter's best interests to have this reviewed by the court and have them decide what type of restrictions, if any, should be placed on the father seeing your daughter. Interstate visitation can become extremely complicated, and very expensive, when a parent sends their kids to the other parent in another state and that parent refuses to return the kids. Your best option is to follow the advice in the first posted answer and consult an attorney about what to do next. And remove the post or posts on Facebook.

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  • Can I sue for the same thing twice in small claims court in state of washington?

    I recently lost a landlord-tenant dispute in small claims court. I sued my landlord for not returning my security deposit within 14 days as required in state of washington. I was claiming 2x security deposit in damages. the judge said it is up to ...

    Michael’s Answer

    The prior two answers cover this issue pretty clearly. Your question says you feel the judge made an error. On small claims, it has always been in my experience "one and done". You file your case and live with the decision. General civil rules state that once the case is taken all the way to a decision on the merits, there is no right to go back and get a "do over". Your question indicates you feel the judge made a mistake, and though you said you don't want to appeal, this is the actual basis for your claim at this point based on what you say. Motions for reconsideration usually expire after about 10 days, and appeals are generally either a 30 or 45 day window. In either case, I have never in 28 years of practice seen them done on a small claim, probably because the cost is just not worth it.

    This brings me to my question to you: how much is your time worth? It is worth something. You have to decide how much of your personal time you are willing to spend to keep going, and be willing to accept whatever the outcome is, which may not be what you want. Sometimes we have to look at losses like this as an opportunity to learn something for having a good outcome next time.

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  • Can I get a divorce w/out the courts or an attorney, and cheap or free?

    Haven't seen eachother in 3 yr.s. No children or assets to divide.

    Michael’s Answer

    You can try contacting the King county Bar Association Neighborhood Legal Clinics. They provide limited assistance to consumers on family law matters for no charge and some attorneys will volunteer their services as a continuation on a pro bono basis following an appointment with a client. I volunteer at one of the clinics and I have provided pro bono work for some clients I have seen (at this time my schedule is full). Here's the web page link:

    You have to dissolve your marriage through the courts.

    Kate gave you the suggestion related to application for waiver of the filing fee. However, you have to qualify, and I have had some clients try and the income cutoff is higher than what it used to be because so many people have been applying for this relief since about 2007.

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  • Need a WA state attorney to answer this one. Is there a time limit for serving a petition after filing for divorce in King Co?

    My husband is overseas.

    Michael’s Answer

    If he is serving in the military, there are special rules that apply. If he is a civilian, I would do some footwork to find process servers in the country where is is currently located and see what it will cost you to have him served over there, preferably before you file the case, so if you run into any problems you can resolve them prior to filing your divorce. Otherwise, I agree with Kate's suggestions. And I agree with her that the Case Schedule is not your friend if you run into a process service issue that takes a long time to resolve after the case is filed.

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  • Is there a time limit for service of divorce petition after filing in King Count WA ?

    Spouse in overseas. He wants the divorce but it may be hard to serve him in the traditional way.

    Michael’s Answer

    There are special requirements for serving a person who is actively serving our country in the Armed Forces.

    To answer your question about time limits, there is a time limit to prosecute your case because you will be issued a Case Schedule when you file, and it has a number of deadlines. Without going into all of them, there will be a Status Conference you will be required to attend with the assigned trial judge if you have not complied with certain requirements, one of which is to confirm all parties have been served/joined. The judge will inquire as to the problem and resolve it with an order of some sort. If service has not been completed, you could ask the trial judge to adjust the Case Schedule to allow you time to complete service on your spouse. The better course of action would be to ask for an adjustment of the case schedule ahead of time, as soon as you know you are going to have issues with completing service on your spouse.

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  • How can i be sure I hire the right lawyer. I have been charged with first degree rape of a child.

    my ex has accused me of raping her daughter. and taken my baby from me. there is no evidence the d a is basing this on there testimony and a porn tape my ex and I made. we are both of legal age. my life has been taken from me and i am afraid for m...

    Michael’s Answer


    I agree with what Lenell said. Of particular note is what she said at the end. An experienced public defender may represent you much better than a cheap private attorney or an expensive one who does not have the fund of knowledge or experience required for this type of case.

    If you hire someone, make sure they have not just handled these types of cases but they are willing to share with you some experiences where they took them to a jury trial and they lost. Yes, LOST. A good criminal defense lawyer takes the tough cases to trial, and yes, they lose a lot of them because the case is not winnable. But they are good because they are not afraid to take it to trial, and they fight all the way. Having said that, a good criminal defense attorney is also an effective negotiator and has the judgment to know when a case should not go to trial. Many cases need to be settled to obtain the best outcome for the client. A good criminal lawyer also is someone who wins cases on dispositive motions, essentially making some cases disappear on one or more pretrial motions. The lawyers who do this often get good deals offered on cases prior to having to do all the work to prepare a case for trial because the prosecutor knows what they are in for from this lawyer if they don't have a solid case to obtain a conviction.

    So this is a long answer to your question, but essentially I suggest you research the credentials and work experience of each lawyer and don't be afraid to ask them for cases they won, lost, settled, etc.

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  • Unethical

    My attorney quit my case right before he finished up all the work. So it left me and my kids with 30. % of the assests. He did say it's b/c I was out of money but he is due to get some which he is not pursuing from my ex. But thru the case when t...

    Michael’s Answer


    If I understand your situation, you were in a divorce when your attorney withdrew. Is that correct?

    If you file a grievance against your attorney, the Bar Association will only investigate if they feel the attorney violated an ethical rule. Your question appears to be based on an assumption that it is unethical for a lawyer to withdraw prior to the case going to trial. That or you feel that he did not like your decision to not sign a document during mediation or a settlement conference. It is not unethical to withdraw from a civil case because the client cannot pay the lawyer's fees. Your written fee agreement should spell out conditions for the attorney to withdraw. If it does not, I do not think this is an ethical violation, and technically, although the Bar Association says fee agreements "should" be in writing, if a lawyer is dumb enough to not have it in writing, this by itself is not an ethical violation.

    First off, we can't read someone else's mind. Your lawyer did not tell you that he was threatening to withdraw if you did not sign that document or take the offer. If you owed him money and the trial was approaching, the lawyer has the option and right to withdraw from the case. Not being paid is a legitimate basis for withdrawal from a civil case. On criminal cases, withdrawal requires permission from the court. If the lawyer filed a Notice of Intent to Withdraw, and he provided you with at least copies of the file materials if you requested them, then he probably complied with the rule on withdrawal.

    A lawyer must take reasonable steps to protect the client's interests prior to withdrawal, but if the client cannot afford to pay the attorney, no one is going to force the attorney to continue working for free on a civil case unless for some reason the opposing side objected to the withdrawal and the court held a hearing and they refused to approve the withdrawal.

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