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I started writing this during the long run-up to the Super Bowl on Sunday. It seemed timely. Civil Rule 3 deals with the commencements of actions. It reads:

(a) Methods. Except as provided in rule 4.1, a civil action is
commenced by service of a copy of a summons together with a copy of a
complaint, as provided in rule 4 or by filing a complaint. Upon written
demand by any other party, the plaintiff instituting the action shall pay
the filing fee and file the summons and complaint within 14 days after
service of the demand or the service shall be void. An action shall not be
deemed commenced for the purpose of tolling any statute of limitations
except as provided in RCW 4.16.170.
(b) Tolling Statute. (Reserved. See RCW 4.16.170.)
(c) Obtaining Jurisdiction. (Reserved. See RCW 4.28.020.)
(d) Lis Pendens. (Reserved. See RCW 4.28.320 and 4.28.160.)

The rule distinguishes between service and filing. Service is (typically) handling a copy of the summons and complaint to the defendant. Filing refers to dropping the summons and complaint off with the Clerk of the Court and paying the filing fee (which changes periodically).

A lot of people ask if there cases will "go to court". In a sense, when suit is filed or served, the case has "gone to court".

Filing suit is significant because it demonstrates that the plaintiff is willing to litigate his/her claims. It’s significant for plaintiff’s counsel because there has to be a level of commitment–in terms of both time and resources–to go to trial in every case that’s filed. That’s why many contingent fee agreements jump from 33 and 1/3 percent to 40 percent when suit is filed.

Do you think that’s fair for contingent fees to increase when suit is filed in a case? Or do you think the contingent fee should only increase if the case actually goes to trial?

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