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Announcement Regarding Washington State Lawsuit (Updated Feb. 2003)

From the Board of Directors

First Lawsuit

For those of you who are not familiar with the history of this matter, on June 20, 2000, Walter Patrick (Society name – Watt Kidman), acting as his own attorney, filed a 17-page civil suit in the State of Washington against the SCA and a number of its members. Since then, Mr. Patrick unsuccessfully sought to supplement his Complaint to add additional claims and he filed an Amended Complaint naming additional members of the Society as defendants. The SCA, through counsel, filed an Answer denying Mr. Patrick’s claims and it asserted counterclaims under Washington law which allows a party to recover its attorney’s fees and costs when a court determines that an action was frivolous and advanced without reasonable cause.

The allegations in Mr. Patrick’s Complaint were numerous and spanned events which go back to 1993. In his Complaint, he characterized the SCA as a corrupt organization in which elite members divert tax exempt revenues for private benefit. He has claimed that when he has surfaced evidence of what he characterizes as corruption within the SCA, various members of the SCA have retaliated against him personally and against a business he operates which provides money exchanging services at SCA events. The SCA, on the other hand, views Mr. Patrick’s allegations as groundless and sees his lawsuit as an improper attempt to force the SCA into a broader business relationship with him, something the SCA has been unwilling to do because of the risks involved.

In June, 2001, counsel for the SCA filed a comprehensive Motion for Summary Judgment against all of Mr. Patrick’s claims against the SCA and against certain of its members. At the conclusion of oral argument on July 20, 2001, Clark County, Washington, Superior Court Judge Diane Woolard granted SCA’s Motion for Summary Judgment in its entirety. In subsequent proceedings, Mr. Patrick dismissed the claims against the remaining defendants and Judge Woolard awarded the SCA $43,526 in attorney fees and costs. In a letter ruling explaining her award, Judge Woolard characterized Mr. Patrick’s claims as legally and factually unsupportable. On September 7, 2001, a Judgment was filed in favor of the SCA and all of the other defendants incorporating the court’s award of attorney fees and costs.

<>On September 27, 2001, Mr. Patrick appealed the matter to the Washington Court of Appeals. Briefs were filed by each party and oral argument took place on October 17, 2002. On November 14, 2002, the Washington State Court of Appeals denied Mr. Patrick’s appeal in its entirety and affirmed the summary judgment previously obtained by the SCA at the trial court level. Additionally, the Court authorized the SCA recovery of additional attorney fees on the ground that the appeal was frivolous. A brief excerpt from the Court's Unpublished Opinion states: "The trial court found that Patrick filed his complaint for the improper purpose of harassing and annoying the defendants and forcing them to expend needless time and energy and incur needless costs of litigation... The record supports both findings ..." Mr. Patrick then filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the Court of Appeals, which denied the Motion on December 20, 2002. On January 17, 2003, he filed a Petition for Review with the Washington Supreme Court, where the matter is now pending.

Second Lawsuit

On February 22, 2002, Mr. Patrick filed a second lawsuit against the SCA and some of its members. The allegations were largely duplicative of those contained in his first lawsuit. Arguing that claims raised by Mr. Patrick in his second lawsuit were frivolous and vexatious, the SCA asked the court to use its equitable powers to stay the second lawsuit pending the outcome of the appeal in the first lawsuit. At a hearing on June 7, 2002, Judge Edwin Poyfair of the Clark County, Washington, Superior Court granted the SCA’s Motion staying all activities in the second lawsuit pending resolution of the appeal in the first lawsuit.

A written Order reflecting Judge Poyfair’s rulings was entered on June 21, 2002. By order of the court, it contained language outlining the terms and conditions under which Mr. Patrick may be allowed to participate in certain SCA events in the future. Because the SCA expects Mr. Patrick to continue to offer his money exchanging services at various SCA events in the future, a complete copy of Judge Poyfair’s Order Granting Defendants’ Motion for Stay and Motion for Protective Order can be found (PDF, 62KB) in this section of the SCA’s website. Event autocrats or any other persons interacting with Mr. Patrick should familiarize themselves with paragraph 3 of Judge Poyfair’s Order.

It is neither the desire of the SCA nor its counsel to expand this litigation into a public debate, however, because of past efforts by Mr. Patrick to promote his views outside of the context of the litigation, we felt it was appropriate to provide you with this brief statement regarding the matter. We have instructed our attorneys to vigorously defend these lawsuits and any appeals that may follow.

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Society for Creative
Anachronism, Inc.
P.O. Box 360789
Milpitas, CA 95036-0789

(408) 263-9305
(800) 789-7486
Fax: (408) 263-0641