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Posts from the ‘Tort Law’ Category


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 Aug. 29, 2016) (unpublished).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 »


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

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 »


Seven Tips for Preparing Associates for Trial

Two lawyer in a sidebar with a judge
Here are seven tips to help junior associates become effective trial attorneys.

Two lawyer in a sidebar with a judge
A trial is challenging, exhilarating and exhausting. It can also be an excellent opportunity for a junior associate to learn an incredible amount and gain significant experience in a relatively short period of time. With relentless preparation and with active mentorship, a new associate can maximize his or her early trial opportunities and can be a valuable member of a trial team. Here are seven tips for associates to consider as they develop into effective trial attorneys. Read more »


Court of Appeals Addresses Insurance Defense Conflicts in Reservation of Rights Context

Abstract depiction of a scale and gavel
A recent court ruling may be useful for lawyers defending an insured when they and their carrier are engaged in a separate coverage dispute.

Abstract depiction of a scale and gavelDivision II of the Court of Appeals recently addressed conflicts when an insurance defense counsel is representing an insured in a reservation of rights case. The plaintiffs in Arden v. Forsberg & Umlauf, P.S., ___ Wn. App. ___, ___ P.3d ___, 2016 WL 2647685 (May 3, 2016), asserted that the defendant law firm had a conflict when representing them in an earlier tort case and were pursuing breach of fiduciary duty and related claims against the firm. On summary judgment, the firm argued that it had no conflict. The trial court agreed and dismissed the case. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Read more »


Court of Appeals Discusses Interplay Between RPC 1.16 and CR 71 on Withdrawal

A lawyer walking out of court
At issue: Strategy conflicts in a commercial lease and mold-exposure case leading to claims of legal malpractice.

A lawyer walking out of courtDivision III of the Court of Appeals recently addressed the interplay between RPC 1.16 and CR 71 on withdrawal in Schibel v. Eymann, ___ Wn. App. ___, ___ P.3d ___, 2016 WL 1639567 (Apr. 26, 2016). Schibel is a legal malpractice case that grew out of commercial lease and related mold exposure litigation. Disagreements over strategy in the underlying case led the lawyers to seek leave to withdraw. Because the trial was approaching rapidly, the lawyers also filed a motion to continue. The trial court allowed the withdrawal but denied the continuance. When the clients — who were then pro se — did not appear for trial, the trial court dismissed their claims with prejudice and the Court of Appeals affirmed in Schibel v. Johnson, 2012 WL 2326992 (Wn. App. June 19, 2012) (unpublished). Read more »