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Posts from the ‘Tort Law’ Category

28
Aug

Court of Appeals Rules on Authority of Insurance Defense Counsel

A client and attorney
Appeals court addresses an insurance defense counsel’s authority when the counsel had no contact with the insured throughout litigation.

A client and attorneyDivision II of the Court of Appeals recently addressed the authority of insurance defense counsel in an unusual scenario: where defense counsel had no contact with the insured throughout the course of the litigation involved. Kruger-Willis v. Hoffenburg, 198 Wn. App. 408, 393 P.3d 844 (2017), arose out of an automobile accident. The defendant drove a truck into the plaintiff’s parked car. The defendant’s insurer paid for the property damage involved, but then the plaintiff sued the defendant for the diminished value of the vehicle. The defendant prevailed at trial, and the trial court awarded the defendant $11,490 in fees and costs. In the course of litigating the fee award, defense counsel admitted that he had never had any contact with the defendant. Read more »

27
Mar

Mental Health Professionals Now Subject to Expanding Tort Liability

Worried female psychiatrist speaking to client
A recent Supreme Court ruling extends psychiatrists’ duty to people harmed by their client even if the client never mentioned a threat.

Worried female psychiatrist speaking to clientThe Washington Supreme Court recently extended the potential duty a psychiatrist owes to people harmed by their outpatient clients. In Volk v. DeMeerleer, 187 Wn.2d 241, 386 P.3d 254 (2016), the Court extended this potential duty to protect despite the absence of any threat to others made by the patient to the psychiatrist. This decision may have detrimental, long-lasting consequences for mental health professionals in Washington. Read more »

10
Feb

Friday 5: Lessons from the Trial Advocacy Program I Wish I Had Learned Sooner

TAP seminar
At the 2016 Trial Advocacy Program, I had many moments when I thought to myself, “I wish I knew this before!”

TAP seminarI attended the 2016 WSBA Trial Advocacy Program (TAP) one week after relocating back to my home state. I most recently was a managing attorney at a nonprofit legal aid organization in Navajo Nation. I had been promoted to this position in the same month I was sworn into the relevant bar. At TAP, I had many moments when I thought to myself, “I wish I knew this before!” Read more »

1
Nov

Court of Appeals Discusses Arbitration of Legal Malpractice Claims

path to success
Division I of the Court of Appeals recently discussed arbitration of legal malpractice claims in Butler v. Thomsen. The facts in Butler were unusual.

path to successDivision I of the Court of Appeals recently discussed arbitration of legal malpractice claims in Butler v. Thomsen, 2016 WL 4524244 (Wn. App. Aug. 29, 2016) (unpublished). The facts in Butler were unusual. A lawyer had negotiated the settlement of a minority shareholder “squeeze out” case involving a closely held high-tech company. The settlement agreement contained a broad release of claims and a companion provision selecting arbitration for “any dispute” arising from the agreement. Later, another shareholder raised a similar claim after allegedly being “squeezed out” of the company. None of the parties requested arbitration, but the trial court held that several claims in the second case fell within the release from the first. The shareholder in the second case then sued the lawyer who had drafted the release for malpractice — arguing that it was overly broad. Read more »

18
Oct

Court of Appeals Outlines Standards for Implied Waiver of Attorney-Client Privilege in Settlement Reasonableness Hearings

justice
The Court of Appeals recently outlined implied-waiver for attorney-client privilege in reasonableness hearings. Mark Fucile breaks it down.

justiceDivision II of the Court of Appeals recently outlined the standards for implied waiver of the attorney-client privilege in the context of settlement “reasonableness” hearings under RCW 4.22.060. In Steel v. Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co. WL 4001431 (July 26, 2016), the parents of children who had been abused at a day care center sued the center and its owners. The day care center had limited insurance coverage and eventually agreed to settle the case for the policy limits and the assignment of their bad-faith claim against their insurance carrier. The settlement was to be effected through a $25 million “covenant judgment” under which the day care center stipulated that the abuse occurred, that the day care center was negligent and the plaintiffs had been harmed. RCW 4.22.060 provides a procedure for a trial court to determine whether a settlement is reasonable because the settlement may affect the rights of other parties. In this instance, the day care center’s insurance carrier intervened to challenge the reasonableness of the settlement involved. Read more »