Complex Civil Litigation
Results Prove It:
Over the past several decades, we have handled some of the most significant litigation matters in the Northwest. We represent local, national, and international clients, including Fortune 500 companies, governmental entities, and prominent individuals.
Upper Skagit Indian Tribe at the United States Supreme Court
We successfully represented the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe in Lundgren v. Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, argued March 2018 at the United States Supreme Court. The Tribe hired us after the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that an adverse possession claim could proceed against the Tribe despite its assertion of sovereign immunity from suit. Working closely with the Tribe’s general counsel, we successfully petitioned the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, briefed the case on the merits, prepared for oral argument, and won a 7-2 ruling reversing the State Supreme Court.
Oso Landslide Litigation
Working closely with members of the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, we successfully defended Snohomish County in what is believed to be the largest wrongful death case in Washington State history. Plaintiffs represented the estates of 33 persons killed and 5 injured in the 2014 Oso Landslide. We obtained consolidation of the four lawsuits and resisted a motion to change venue brought by another defendant at the trial court level and on appeal. Then, after rigorous discovery and through a series of summary judgment motions, we obtained a judgment dismissing all claims against the County, defeating a complex range of statutory and common law claims. We continue to represent Snohomish County in the courts of appeal.
$27 Million Lawsuit Against Seattle High-Tech Company
We successfully defended Seattle technology company Whitepages, Inc., against claims alleging breach of contract, fraud, and theft of confidential information. We were retained at the close of discovery to try the case after multiple dispositive motions had been denied and mediation had failed. The plaintiff (Spokeo, Inc.) sought over $27 million in damages. After a five-week trial in King County Superior Court, the jury rejected all but one of Spokeo’s claims and awarded only $72,915 in damages (0.26% of the amount sought). The jury also found Spokeo liable for breach of contract, and awarded damages to Whitepages. We then prevailed on all post-trial motions. The Court reversed the one jury verdict adverse to Whitepages, finding that the Consumer Protection Act did not apply to this contract dispute between competitors. The Court also awarded Whitepages over $2 million in attorneys’ fees and costs. The Court’s judgment is here.
City of Mercer Island/Sound Transit Light Rail Litigation
Together with the City Attorney, we represented the City of Mercer Island in its widely publicized fight to mitigate the impacts of the closure of the center express lanes of I-90, as part of Sound Transit’s expansion of light rail to Seattle’s eastside. The case involved intense litigation in multiple forums, including the state trial court, the Growth Management Hearings Board, the Shorelines Hearings Board, and the State Supreme Court. After hearings on a diverse range of issues, and just ahead of a hearing on the City’s request for an injunction, the City Council accepted a settlement offer of $10.1 million in mitigation payments from Sound Transit.
Office Park Condemnation Suits and Construction Impact Litigation
We often represent property owners. In one case, we represented the owner of an office park in connection with dual condemnation proceedings brought by the City of Bellevue and Sound Transit. In connection with the former, we negotiated an indemnity provision to protect the office park from any losses incident to the public works project. When losses subsequently occurred, we enforced the office park’s indemnity rights against the municipal entity and its contractors and subcontractors. Bypassing the City, we negotiated directly with the contractor and its insurers to obtain a significant recovery. In connection with the latter, we intervened during the planning stages to negotiate a revision to the light rail / road configuration plan to preserve important access to the office park. Then we worked with an experienced appraiser and land use counsel to negotiate extensive easement provisions with Sound Transit and to minimize the project’s negative impact on the office park and its tenants. Throughout the process, we worked hand-in-hand with our clients and a team of experts (e.g. traffic engineers, geotechnical engineers) to achieve the best outcome.
Microsoft/Motorola Patent Litigation
The firm represented Microsoft in a number of patent lawsuits. In September 2013, we obtained a $15 million jury verdict on behalf of Microsoft in a case involving Motorola’s breach of commitments it made to standard-setting organizations that it would license certain of its standard essential patents on RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms. The case was the first of its kind to proceed through trial, and established precedent that will guide future disputes over the licensing of standard essential patents. As part of this litigation, in April 2012, we argued motions resulting in a restraining order barring Motorola from enforcing any injunction against Windows sales in Germany that might arise from German litigation between the same parties, a landmark patent ruling.
Carpenter’s Tower / Belltown High-rise Construction Defect Dispute
In the middle of the lawsuit, we took over the defense of one of the most heavily publicized and complicated construction defect cases in the history of Seattle. The owner claimed that defects in the building’s structural steel and post-tensioning system posed a threat to public safety and required evacuation of the 28 story mixed use building. The firm’s attorneys, led by Art Harrigan and Tyler Farmer, worked with a team of nationally renowned engineers to demonstrate that the plaintiff’s claims were dramatically overstated and that the building could be repaired for a small fraction of the claimed damages ($100 million plus). Following extensive discovery, including dozens of depositions and expert work including extraction and analysis of the building’s post-tension cables, we organized a two day mediation including the plaintiff, the architect, all of the subcontractors, and all of the insurers. The case was resolved with no financial contribution from the client.
We represented the founder and former CEO of InfoSpace for injunctive relief under a non-compete agreement and for violation of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. We defeated preliminary injunctive relief, were awarded fees, and prevailed on summary judgment. We also represented the client in an action against InfoSpace in the Delaware Chancery Court to compel payment of defense costs in connection with the appeal from a $247 million Section 16(b) judgment against the client based on short swing profit claims. We assumed representation of the 16(b) litigation from former counsel following the adverse judgment by handling the appeal to the Ninth Circuit. The matter settled after briefs were filed in the Ninth Circuit.
“Whale Wars” Proceeding for Injunctive Relief
We defended Captain Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an anti-poaching group focused on marine conservation featured in the Animal Planet documentary series Whale Wars, in proceedings by Japanese whalers seeking injunctive relief.
Washington State Retirement System Class Action Litigation
We represented the State of Washington in a $2 billion class action involving nearly one hundred thousand State employees and retirees. Plaintiffs were members of one of the State’s retirement systems and challenged the State’s repeal of a cost of living adjustment which occurred as a consequence of the economic downturn. The case involved unique constitutional and legislative authority issues. We successfully obtained a partial dismissal of the class claims, narrowing the class and the magnitude of the claims sought. Our firm then successfully obtained an interlocutory appeal of an adverse summary judgment ruling as to the remaining class claims directly to the Washington Supreme Court, which in a unanimous decision reversed the trial court’s decision, leading to dismissal of the case with prejudice. Washington Educ. Ass’n v. Washington Dep’t of Ret. Sys., 181 Wn.2d 212, 332 P.3d 428 (2014).
King County Wastewater Litigation
Our firm represented King County, Washington, in defending against over $250 million in claims brought by two local water and sewer districts against the County’s Wastewater Treatment Division. The water and sewer districts alleged that the County had improperly used sewage fees for a variety of non-wastewater treatment purposes, including mitigation projects related to the construction of a new regional wastewater facility. The case involved complex legal and factual issues regarding debt financing, accounting, and regulatory requirements affecting wastewater treatment providers. The case also involved novel issues regarding the use of wastewater treatment funds for general water quality purposes and to develop a reclaimed water system. Our firm successfully obtained dismissal of several claims in a series of pre-trial summary judgment motions. We then tried the remaining claims in a six-week trial involving nearly three dozen witnesses. The trial court ruled in King County’s favor on all but one small issue. We represented King County in the subsequent appeal at the Washington State Supreme Court. On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court rulings in favor of the County and reversed the only trial court ruling against the County. Cedar River Water & Sewer Dist. v. King Cty., 178 Wn.2d 763, 315 P.3d 1065 (2013).
Port of Seattle Rail Corridor Litigation
We represented the Port of Seattle in defending against a claim challenging the Port’s $81 million acquisition of a former rail corridor called the Eastside Rail Corridor. Plaintiff taxpayers alleged that the Port lacked the authority to acquire the rail corridor because it was unrelated to the Port’s seaport and airport operations. The case involved questions related to the core duties and functions of a port district and a port’s ability to plan for future economic developments. After extensive discovery, our firm successfully resisted class certification and eventually obtained a summary judgment dismissing the claim. After plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Washington Court of Appeals, our firm represented the Port at the appeal and obtained a unanimous decision in the Port’s favor affirming the trial court. Lane v. Port of Seattle, 178 Wn. App. 110, 316 P.3d 1070 (2013), rev. denied, 180 Wn.2d 1004 (2014).
We now represent the Port in a lawsuit pending in federal court alleging that the Port did not have the authority to sell easements in the rail corridor. The trial court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and granted ours, adopting in large part our analysis about the meaning and import of the federal Rails to Trails Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1247(d). Kaseburg v. Port of Seattle, C14-0784-JCC, 2015 WL 10890276 (W.D. Wash. Apr. 23, 2015); 2015 WL 4508790 (July 24, 2015). We continue to defend the Port at the Ninth Circuit.
We represented King County in connection with Seattle Mariners effort to break the Kingdome lease, including briefing the issue of its rights under the “attendance guaranty” clause. As a result of persuading the appraiser that the County’s interpretation was correct, the price to the local buyer who then purchased the team was $30 million lower than a “national price” would have been. We also represented King County in stopping the Seattle Seahawks’ attempt to move the team to Southern California. The case entailed securing a TRO, litigating simultaneously in two counties, filing emergency appeals, arguing before the State Supreme Court, and making a presentation to all NFL owners on engineering issues relating to the seismic safety of the Kingdome, all in a three-month period (case resolved when Paul Allen acquired the team and built a new Seattle stadium).
Olympic Pipe Line Litigation
We defended the Olympic Pipe Line Company, a private company owned by three-publicly traded Fortune 500 oil companies, in the aftermath of the gasoline spill in Bellingham which led to three deaths, negotiating a global resolution of all criminal, civil, and debarment proceedings on its behalf. Our efforts included a successful request for injunctive relief against the City of Seattle, which was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit. Olympic Pipe Line Co. v. City of Seattle, 437 F.3d 872 (9th Cir. 2006).
Allied Exhaust Antitrust Litigation
Our firm represented Allied Exhaust, Inc., in defending against antitrust claims by a competitor who alleged price discrimination. The case involved historical practices among the distributors and the manufacturers, as well as novel questions arising under the Sherman Act and the Robinson Patman Act. We obtained a summary judgment dismissing the claims on the eve of trial. On appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, our firm obtained a ruling affirming the district court’s summary judgment ruling. Gorlick Distribution Centers, LLC v. Car Sound Exhaust Sys., Inc., 723 F.3d 1019 (9th Cir. 2013).
Port of Seattle Airport Noise Litigation
Art Harrigan and Tim Leyh represented the Port of Seattle in an airport noise dispute. A class of residents around Sea-Tac Airport sued the Port in federal court alleging that their neighborhoods were blighted by noise and pollution from airport operations. After the court denied class action status, the case was refiled in behalf of 144 individuals. After a two-week trial of a “test” case involving the claims of twelve plaintiffs, the jury rendered a defense verdict in favor of the Port on all claims. The claims of the remaining individuals were settled for nominal amounts.
Port of Seattle Whistleblower Litigation
We represented the Port of Seattle in a False Claims Act investigation into alleged irregularities in the Port’s contracting practices. We worked with the government to obtain their agreement not to bring any civil or criminal enforcement actions against the Port or its employees. As in other cases we have handled, we also defended the Port in related employment lawsuit brought by a whistleblower, and obtained a complete dismissal.
- Chungwha Picture Tubes, Ltd.
- City of Mercer Island
- H5 Capital
- HVB AE Power Systems
- King County
- Laird Norton
- Pendrell Corp.
- Port of Seattle
- Regency Bellefield Holdings, LLC
- Sirius XM Radio Inc.
- Snohomish County
- State of Washington
- Talon Private Capital
- Upper Skagit Indian Tribe