We defend a wide range of civil cases, from complex insurance coverage disputes to the defense of catastrophic accidents. We resolve cases at every stage of litigation, from pre-suit investigation to trial, and through final appeal. Our Attorneys represent clients in State and Federal trial courts, and all courts of appeal, including the Washington State Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.
No two cases are exactly the same; we do not use a “one-size fits all” approach. We work with our clients to understand their needs and goals from the outset of our representation through case resolution. We customize litigation strategies to best serve our clients in every case. We continuously seek feedback to meet our clients’ goals and address their concerns.
Litigation Case Studies
In June 2017, Roy Umlauf and William C. “Chris” Gibson obtained summary judgment dismissal for a national retailer client in an asbestos exposure / toxic tort lawsuit. Plaintiff claimed exposure to asbestos from multiple sources, including allegedly contaminated cosmetics and baby powder she bought at the client’s stores. The court dismissed plaintiff’s product liability claim for lack of any evidence showing the potential liability of the retailer as a product “seller” under the Washington Product Liability Act (chapter 7.72 RCW). The court also denied plaintiff’s request to continue the summary judgment hearing in order to “find” liability evidence to defeat the motion.
In September 2017, Patrick Sheldon and Natalie Heineman obtained a unanimous defense verdict in a Snohomish County Superior Court case involving allegations that their client, a naturopathic physician, failed to timely follow up on liver function studies for a patient later diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. Defense counsel proved that their client complied with the standard of care, the patient was non-compliant, and that she was unlikely to have survived even if diagnosed earlier in time.
In August 2017, Jeff Kestle obtained a Washington Supreme Court decision in favor of our attorney client. The Court ruled that the attorney’s court-approved withdrawal from an underlying lawsuit barred the attorney’s former clients from asserting legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty claims based on the withdrawal.
In May 2017, Grant Lingg obtained summary judgment dismissal for clients Sound Transit and City of Tacoma in an inverse condemnation / negligent property damage lawsuit. Plaintiffs alleged that the Sounder Commuter Rail project diverted water onto their property. The inverse condemnation claims were dismissed for lack of causation and a finding that no taking had been established. The negligence claims were dismissed under the statute of limitations.
In May 2017, Patrick Sheldon and Natalie Heineman obtained a defense verdict in a medical malpractice case in King County Superior Court, which arose from an 11-year delay in the diagnosis of plaintiff’s prostate cancer. Although their doctor client admitted liability, counsel proved that the delay made no difference in the plaintiff’s outcome.
In December 2016, Patrick Sheldon and Natalie Heineman obtained a unanimous defense verdict in a Snohomish County Superior Court case involving allegations that their oral surgeon client, injured the plaintiff’s inferior alveolar nerve during a tooth extraction. Counsel proved that the surgeon complied with the standard of care and that the injury was a risk of the procedure about which plaintiff was appropriately informed.
On November 18, 2016, Jillian Hinman and William O’Brien obtained a complete defense verdict, unanimous from the 12-person jury, after a four-week trial. Ms. Hinman and Mr. O’Brien represented a driver, his auto dealer employer, and the dealer’s president. The case involved two plaintiffs who were passengers in the vehicle being driven by the defendant as part of a test drive. The driver lost control and hit a concrete block head-on at 35-40 mph. Defendants admitted liability, but contested injuries to the plaintiffs.
The first plaintiff claimed traumatic brain injury, causing total blindness inside of three feet , but 20/20 vision outside of three feet; foreign accent syndrome; vestibular issues; balance issues leading to falls; and traumatic fibromyalgia and spondyloarthropathy. The second plaintiff claimed chronic pain from chest and shoulder injuries that required two surgeries. Both plaintiffs claimed psychological issues, including PTSD, and permanent injury that prevented them from working. Neither plaintiff entered any medical bills into evidence. The first plaintiff asked the jury for $9 million and the second plaintiff asked for $5 million. The jury found that defendants did not proximately cause plaintiffs’ alleged injuries.
Ms. Hinman is an associate at Forsberg & Umlauf, P.S. Mr. O’Brien is formerly with The Law Office of William J. O’Brien, both of Seattle, Washington. The case was tried in King County Superior Court, in Seattle.
Shareholder Marty Pujolar obtained a favorable ruling in an unpublished opinion by Division One of the Washington Court of Appeals, affirming the trial court’s orders granting summary judgment dismissal of employment discrimination claims against the firm’s employer client. The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s ruling that there was no basis for the plaintiff’s claims under Washington’s Law Against Discrimination (“WLAD”).
Attorney Susan K. McIntosh obtained a complete dismissal of all claims by a dissolved corporation following expiration of the time within which the corporation could be reinstated as an active corporation. Ms. McIntosh argued that the lawsuit abated as a matter of law where the corporation ceased to exist after it failed to reinstate within the reinstatement period allowed by statute. The common law applied because the business corporations statute was silent on the issue.
In finding for the Association on all claims, the Court also awarded the recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs in the defense of the case.
Shareholder Marty Pujolar obtained the final dismissal of an EEOC charge of employment discrimination against the firm’s employer client. The claimant had filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC alleging discrimination based upon (1) Sex (gender) - Title VII of Civil Rights Act, (2) Age, and (3) Retaliation.
Representing an association of houseboat owners, shareholders Ray Cox and Christopher Matheson obtained a complete defense verdict after a two-week trial in King County Superior Court. Plaintiff alleged violations of the Washington Condominium Act and sought possession of common area waters for plaintiff’s exclusive use as a boat moorage. In finding for the Association on all claims, the Court also awarded the recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs for defense of the case.
Our attorney client sued his former clients to collect unpaid fees. His former clients then counterclaimed for breach of contract and malpractice. After a three-day trial, Forsberg & Umlauf attorney Jeff Kestle obtained a jury verdict in our client's favor on the fee claim -- recovering more than the amount requested at trial -- and a defense verdict on the counterclaims.
After the “Taylor Bridge” fire burned more than 27,000 acres of land in Central Washington, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources issued a fire investigation report determining that the “most likely” cause of the fire was a rebar contractor’s work on the bridge. Nineteen separate lawsuits brought by more than 300 separate plaintiffs followed, alleging that the rebar contractor started the fire and and was responsible for more than $400 Million dollars in damages. Forsberg & Umlauf attorneys Grant Lingg and Scott Samuelson defended the case and determined that the rebar contractor’s work could not have been the cause. They first worked to consolidate the many cases filed in two different counties. Once the cases were consolidated before a single judge, they persuaded the Court that there was no admissible evidence that the fire was initiated by the work of the firm’s client and the claims were dismissed.