Sidis v. Brodie Dohrmann, Inc

In Sidis v. Brodie Dohrmann, Inc., 117 Wn.2d 325, 815 P.2d 781 (Wash. 1991), the issue was whether timely service of process upon one defendant tolled the statute of limitations as to unserved co-defendants. Id. at 781. Although the Washington court interpreted the statute in question to permit tolling, it noted that "while it is true that the statute, literally read, tolls the statute of limitation for an unspecified period, that period is not infinite." Id. at 783. Indeed, court rules dictate that plaintiffs pursue their claims in an expeditious manner. Id. The Washington Supreme Court further emphasized that "a plaintiff who fails to serve each defendant risks losing the right to proceed against unserved defendants if the served defendant is dismissed." Id. The Court held that under RCW 4.16.170 service on one defendant tolled the statute of limitations as to all defendants, including, in that case, a Swiss manufacturer. This holding resulted from construction of language in RCW 4.16.170: "If service has not been had on the defendant prior to the filing of the complaint, the plaintiff shall cause one or more of the defendants to be served personally . . . ." The court added that the tolling as to other defendants was not unlimited, because a plaintiff would have to proceed with the case in a timely manner as required by court rules, and would have to serve each defendant in order to proceed against that defendant. 117 Wn.2d at 329.