By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The Washington State Supreme Court has decided four lawsuits arising from widespread flooding of the Chehalis River in December 2007 in Lewis County don’t have to be handled in Lewis County Superior Court, but may be dealt with in King County.
The petitioners had filed separate suits in King County Superior Court asserting that poor forestry practices made the land unstable during the heavy rains, allowed landslides to form and then debris to flow into the river; which in turn displaced river water and caused damage to their properties.
The respondents are Weyerhaeuser Company, Green Diamond Resource Company and the state Department of Natural Resources.
It’s the second time the state Supreme Court has considered questions related to the appropriate forum for the cases. After the first time they remanded for further proceedings, the respondents promptly moved to transfer venue to Lewis County and the move was granted.
The nine justices unanimously agreed in their opinion issued on Thursday. Justice Mary I. Yu wrote the law did not provide for exclusive proper venue in Lewis County, but that King County is another possible proper place to hear the cases.
The petitioners are William Ralph, William Forth, Guy Bauman, Eileen Bauman, Linda Stanley, Rochelle Stanley, Donald LeMaster, David Givens, Virginia Carey, Jamie Carey and Paradyce Industries Inc.
Weyerhaeuser and Green Diamond are headquartered in King County.
In the Supreme Court of the state of Washington: No. 91711-6 – Ralph v. Weyerhaeuser Co., here