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
Carl E. Forsberg, Matthew S. Adams and Charlie A. Henty represented insurers who issued policies with combined liability limits in excess of $50 million in a multiparty contribution lawsuit regarding potential coverage for over 1,000 toxic tort claims and environmental claims arising out of polluted sites across the country. A seven week jury trial resulted in a partial defense verdict, with the jury concluding that the pollution exclusions in various policies precluded coverage for the environmental claims. The plaintiff insurer filed an interlocutory appeal seeking reversal of the successful pollution exclusion verdict, and our clients cross-assigned error on the denial of a directed verdict motion regarding the viability of all of the plaintiff’s contribution claims. The appellate court ruled in favor of our clients, holding that the trial court erred by denying the motion for directed verdict.
Shareholder Kimberly Reppart recently won two summary judgment motions resulting in complete dismissal of a premises liability suit asserted against two multi-national retailers. The plaintiff sustained a significant traumatic brain injury when she was hit by a car in a shopping center parking lot.
Plaintiff sued the driver as well as the owner of the shopping plaza and several current and former retail tenants. The court agreed that the retail tenants owed no duty with respect to the design of the parking lot, which the plaintiff claimed contributed to the accident. The dismissal avoids expansion of commercial tenant tort duties with respect to common area parking lots.
Patrick Sheldon and Natalie Heineman obtained a defense verdict for an oral surgeon in a medical negligence case in which plaintiff alleged the client negligently placed a dental implant into the sinus which caused the patient over a decade of sinus complications. The implant was placed into the maxillary sinus.
Despite this, Patrick and Natalie convinced the jury our client’s treatment complied with the standard of care and that plaintiff’s sinus issues were unrelated to the implant.
Chris Matheson recently obtained dismissal of all claims brought against a homeowners association and property manager. The plaintiff had asserted state and federal discrimination claims, as well as violations of multiple federal lending laws. Chris pursued discovery violations against the plaintiff, obtained monetary sanctions, and ultimately won dismissal of all claims.
Paul Smith obtained a summary judgment order, quieting title in land to our clients. The order culminated a vigorously contested boundary line dispute that required several motions and the deposition of a witness in the Philippines before the court agreed that the clients had obtained title to the disputed parcel through adverse possession.
In March 2018, Kimberly Reppart obtained a defense award in the arbitration of a disputed-liability car accident. The plaintiff’s alleged damages included almost $40,000 in chiropractic and massage treatment. The arbitrator found that the plaintiff failed to meet his burden and entered an award for the defendant.
In March 2018, William Locke obtained a defense award at an arbitration arising from an automobile accident. Plaintiff alleged that our client unlawfully crossed an intersection, unlawfully drove down the center lane on the next block, and then struck Plaintiff’s vehicle. Plaintiff claimed significant injuries and property damages because of the accident. At arbitration, William established that our client did not proximately cause the accident. The arbitrator issued an award for the defense.
Rob Novasky obtained a unanimous defense verdict in a product liability case against our client, a product manufacturer. While riding his “dirt” bike, the plaintiff collided with another rider and sustained a serious injury to his foot. Plaintiff argued that his boots, which the client had manufactured, should have prevented the injury. After a two-week trial, the jury found for our client, which also recovered its statutory fees and costs.
December 2017, Rob Novasky prevailed in a favorable arbitration for our client, a municipality, after a wrongful termination case. Plaintiff received a non- favorable job performance review and quit the firm. Plaintiff later tried to rescind her resignation but the employer declined to accept her rescission. Plaintiff filed a grievance through her union, alleging her employer “terminated” her by refusing to allow her to rescind her resignation. After a two-day arbitration, Rob Novasky secured a decision in favor of the employer, dismissing all claims.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”).
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.
After a three-week jury trial, Patrick Sheldon and Natalie Heineman obtained a defense verdict for our healthcare organization client in a wrongful death case in which plaintiff’s estate alleged that the client failed to timely diagnose the decedent’s prostate cancer. Counsel proved that the medical treatment complied with the standard of care and that the cancer, even if diagnosed earlier, was incurable. Plaintiff’s counsel had asked the jury for a $6 million verdict.
A. Grant Lingg and Scott Samuelson recently obtained summary judgment dismissal of all claims brought against the firm’s client, a fruit packing company that operated a warehouse in Wenatchee, Washington. The company was sued by an insurer for a neighboring warehouse that sustained $48 Million in damages during the “Sleepy Hollow” fire in 2015. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant negligently stored dangerous, combustible materials in its yard. The plaintiff’s expert testified that the client’s storage practices “created conditions that amounted to a perfect catastrophe waiting to happen,” and that when the materials ignited an “uncontrollable” fire spread to the plaintiff’s warehouse. On summary judgment, Mr. Lingg and Mr. Samuelson argued that the client had no duty to protect the neighboring warehouses from a fire that originated miles away, and that plaintiff’s proof of proximate causation was lacking. The trial court granted defendant’s motion, dismissing the suit on the grounds that the plaintiff had failed to submit admissible evidence that the defendant’s storage practices caused the fire to spread to the neighboring warehouse.
William Locke prevailed on a motion to dismiss claims against two of the firm’s clients, members of a limited liability company that operated a motel. The plaintiff, an adjacent property owner, sued the members and the company after its employee allegedly started a fire that destroyed plaintiff’s building. The plaintiff claimed that the members were personally liable for hiring and supervising the employee.
Mr. Locke moved to dismiss the claims against the members. He asserted that the members performed the allegedly wrongful acts on behalf of the company and, therefore, their alleged wrongdoing could not create personal liability. He argued also that Washington law shielded the members from personal responsibility for such corporate liabilities. The trial court agreed, granted the motion, and dismissed the members from the suit.