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Peterson | Wampold | Rosato | Feldman | Luna


PH: 206.624.6800 FAX: 206.682.1415
1001 4th Avenue, Suite 4131 Seattle, WA 98154

News and Updates

PWRFL obtains $18.1 million judgment against the State of Washington Department of Transportation in highway design case.

On behalf of the plaintiffs, PWRFL attorneys Mike Wampold, Felix Luna and Ann Rosato, along with Jimmy Rogers of the Law Offices of James S. Rogers, obtained an $18.1 million verdict against the State of Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and a driver who struck and injured PWRFL’s client. 

After a three-week trial, the jury found WSDOT liable for negligent highway design.  The co-defendant driver, who had admitted liability, was also apportioned fault by the jury.  During trial, PWRFL presented evidence that WSDOT had known for decades that the area of Interstate 5 northbound between the University Street onramp and the Mercer Street exit is the most congested roadway in the State of Washington, which often leads to miles-long backups in multiple lanes of the freeway, and that drivers intending to take the Mercer Street exit often find themselves backed up into the left/”fast” lane of the freeway.  WSDOT has also known for decades that those backups into the left lane lead to freeway crashes as often as once every three days.  Despite this knowledge, WSDOT failed to install dynamic signs – using technology that has been available for decades and which is in use around the state – warning drivers on Interstate 5 northbound when conditions are such that cars taking the Mercer Street exit may suddenly and unexpectedly back up into the left lane of the freeway.  Such signs would prepare northbound drivers to reduce their speed and/or stop to avoid striking vehicles that are stopped on the freeway waiting to take the Mercer Street exit.

On September 20, 2016, PWRFL’s client, a 32-year-old attorney who was at the start of a promising legal career, was one of those drivers stopped in the left lane of the freeway waiting to take the Mercer Street exit on his way to work at a local defense firm.  The defendant driver received no warning that cars were stopped in the left lane as he took the left-side entrance at University Street and accelerated his Mercedes Sprinter van to freeway speeds.  He was suddenly confronted by a wall of cars stopped in the left lane of the freeway, the last of which was PWRFL’s client.  Because he had no time to stop, the defendant driver struck PWRFL’s client’s Honda Fit, setting off a chain reaction.  The Fit was destroyed in the collision. PWRFL’s client suffered a severe brain injury and other significant injuries that impact nearly every aspect of his life and severely impacts his relationship with wife, whose claim for her own losses was also presented by PWRFL.  Although PWRFL’s client was able to return to work as an attorney approximately 18 months after the collision because of his tremendous effort at rehabilitation, his career trajectory was diminished because of his brain injury.  To make up for his lost earnings and provide for his medical needs, the jury awarded $5,130,554 in economic damages.  To make up for the noneconomic harms that they both suffered, the jury awarded PWRFL’s attorney client $11,000,000 and his wife $2,000,000 in noneconomic damages.

A link to the jury’s verdict can be found here.

PWRFL prevails in hard-fought police shooting case.

After eight years of litigation, including two Ninth Circuit opinions, one U.S. Supreme Court opinion, and one U.S. Supreme Court denial of a writ of certiorari – which finally ended the matter – PWRFL lawyer Leonard Feldman secured a significant appellate victory in a police shooting case, which have become increasingly difficult to win.  PWRFL clients Angel and Jennifer Mendez were shot by police after the police unlawfully entered the Mendezes’ home without a warrant and saw Mr. Mendez holding a BB gun.  Following a bench trial, a judge awarded over $4 million in damages.  The Ninth Circuit twice upheld the judgment.  The Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit’s first opinion, but let the second opinion stand.  An L.A. Times article regarding the litigation can be found here.

PWRFL obtains $3.1 million jury verdict against MultiCare’s Good Samaritan Hospital and South Sound Inpatient Physicians.

After two weeks of trial, PWRFL lawyers Felix Luna and Tomás Gahan secured a $3.1 million verdict from a King County jury as compensation for the death of a MultiCare patient who was treated by South Sound Inpatient Physicians at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, Washington.

The 66-year-old patient presented at MultiCare’s Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup with shortness of breath and dizziness and was admitted to the hospital.  The doctor who admitted him (a hospitalist employed by South Sound Inpatient Physicians) suspected that the patient was suffering from a pulmonary embolism (PE), but did not properly schedule the diagnostic test to confirm the embolism, nor did she ensure the test was done before leaving her shift.  For its part, MultiCare’s laboratory failed to inform the doctor that the test was not performed, and rescheduled the test without obtaining proper authority.  The patient continued to deteriorate and, 16 hours after being admitted, died of a pulmonary embolism.

At trial, the defendants admitted that the failure to perform and properly schedule the test and to notify incoming doctors of the patient’s condition violated the standard of care, but argued that the patient’s comorbidities identified on autopsy, as well as the nature and size of the blood clot, meant that he would have died regardless of treatment.  Plaintiff’s experts countered that PEs like the one suffered by the patient are readily treatable with anticoagulant therapy and that he would have survived had he received standard of care treatment.  Plaintiff further argued that the night-shift hospitalist should have attended to the patient when he began to seriously deteriorate and addressed his PE with thrombolytic therapy.

The jury awarded $2 million to the patient’s widow, $150,000 to each of his adult children and stepchildren, and $500,000 in pre-death pain and suffering, for a total of $3.1 million.  A copy of the jury's verdict can be found here.

PWRFL obtains a $5.25 million verdict in a spine surgery case against Kaiser Permanente.

On behalf of the plaintiffs, PWRFL attorneys Felix Luna and Mallory Allen sued Kaiser Permanente, f.k.a Group Health Cooperative, for medical negligence, failure to obtain informed consent, and medical battery after its neurosurgeon employee performed spine surgery on PWRFL’s client using an antiquated technique that had been abandoned nearly 40 years ago.  Following a one-week trial, a King County jury returned a verdict in favor of PWRFL’s client and his wife for $5.25 million. 

In early 2014, PWRFL’s client, a physician who had accepted a fellowship in global health at the University of Washington, began experiencing back pain and weakness in his legs.  An MRI showed that he had herniated discs in his mid back.  After his symptoms progressed and affected his ability to walk, PWRFL’s client consulted with the Group Health surgeon, who recommended surgical removal of the disc herniations.   They discussed a specific type of surgery, and PWRFL’s client did his own research and consulted with other physicians.  After substantial deliberation, PWRFL’s client agreed to a very specific type of surgery.  But on the day of the surgery, the surgeon chose to perform the surgery using a technique that had been essentially abandoned 40 years ago because of the risks of a spinal cord injury.  Unfortunately, PWRFL’s client awoke from the surgery with a spinal cord injury.  While PWRFL’s client experienced substantial improvement in the years following the surgery due to his hard work and ongoing rehabilitation, he continues to suffer substantial deficits, which are permanent.

At trial, Kaiser admitted that its surgeon was negligent, failed to obtain informed consent, and committed a medical battery, but disputed that PWRFL’s client’s current condition was caused by the surgery.  The jury disagreed and awarded damages totaling $5.25 million.  Kaiser chose not to appeal the jury’s verdict and paid the judgment.

PWRFL obtains $17.5 million judgment in bad faith case against Mutual of Enumclaw insurance company.

On behalf of the plaintiff, PWRFL attorneys Felix Luna, Mike Wampold and Tomás Gahan, sued Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance Company (MOE) for acting in bad faith against its own policyholder.  Following nearly three weeks of trial, a King County jury returned a verdict in favor of PWRFL’s client for $11.5 million.  Three months later, the trial judge added another $6 million to the jury’s verdict in penalties, attorney fees, and litigation costs, for a total judgment of $17.5 million against MOE and in favor of PWRFL’s client.

When an MOE policyholder accidentally struck and killed a young wife and mother in 2010 on a Nevada highway, MOE failed to take reasonable steps to resolve the claim within his policy limits even though MOE had multiple opportunities to do so. Because of MOE’s bad faith conduct toward its insured, MOE’s policyholder was left unprotected and was eventually sued by the widower of the woman killed, resulting in a judgment in excess of $11 million against MOE’s policyholder.  Faced with such a ruinous judgment, the policyholder assigned his bad faith claim against MOE to the widower in exchange for a covenant not to execute the judgment against him, permitting the widower to stand in the shoes of the policyholder and sue MOE as the plaintiff. 

Representing the plaintiff, PWRFL filed suit against MOE for the underlying judgment, plus additional penalties and fees for five separate claims: (1) bad faith, (2) negligence, (3) violations of the Insurance Fair Conduct Act, (4) violation of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act, and (5) breach of the insurance contract.  MOE defended the case aggressively, refusing to provide basic discovery, moving to dismiss plaintiff’s claims via a separate federal court lawsuit and twice in King County Superior Court.  PWRFL won every motion against MOE, finally permitting plaintiff to have his day in court eight years after his wife was killed.  

In the late spring of 2018, a jury returned a unanimous jury against MOE on all five of plaintiff’s claims, and a few months later the trial judge added penalties, fees and costs.  After additional briefing, MOE abandoned an appeal and paid the entirety of the $17.5 million judgment. 

A link to the jury’s verdict can be found here and a link to the Court’s final judgment can be found here.

Jury awards $1.2 million to patient injured during spinal surgery.

A Yakima jury returned a $1.2 million verdict against Dr. Michael Thomas of Cascade Neurosurgical Associates for negligently performing a spinal surgery in July 2011 that left his patient with a severe spinal deformity for three years before it was finally corrected by a second surgery. 

PWRFL’s 42-year-old client had suffered from scoliosis since she was a teenager, but her back pain became insufferable in the summer of 2011.  In July of 2011, Dr. Thomas performed scoliosis surgery on our client to assist with her pain.   While the surgery initially provided some pain relief, according to testimony by medical experts during trial, Dr. Thomas caused his patient to suffer a severe forward and left lean through substandard care, and then failed to provide her with adequate follow-up. 

After obtaining care from numerous providers and consulting with several local spine surgeons for over three years, our client’s lean was ultimately corrected in an August 2014 operation performed by Dr. Lawrence Lenke, an internationally renowned spine surgeon who was then practicing in St. Louis and is now in New York.  

PWRFL attorney Felix Luna, who, together with Tomás Gahan, tried the case on behalf of the client, knows that the years between the botched surgery in 2011 and the 2014 procedure that resolved the problem were extraordinarily difficult for her.  “When I first met Emily, we were sitting and talking when the pain in her back became so severe that she passed out,” Mr. Luna said. “That was not uncommon and was the reality of her life, day in and day out, for more than three years.”  Mr. Luna also stated that “Emily, her family, and our firm are all deeply appreciative to the jury for their thoughtful consideration of this case.”  

Court records show that this is the first jury award for a plaintiff in a medical negligence case in Yakima in over two decades.

Yakima Herald and KNDO news stories about the case may be accessed here and here, respectively.

PWRFL wins $8,500,000 verdict after doctor in training at Virginia Mason Medical Center botches urologic stent procedure.

In January 2013, PWRFL’s client, a 44-year-old man, was diagnosed with an abdominal tumor that required surgical removal.  Our client’s wife was an anesthesiologist at Virginia Mason in Seattle, so the couple chose Virginia Mason for the surgery and made specific decisions about the surgeons who would be operating.  The lead surgeon wanted to have a urologist place a ureter stent at the beginning of the surgery.  The plaintiffs agreed to the Chief of Urology to do the stent procedure, but on the morning of surgery that urologist did not show up and a doctor in training (“fellow”) was sent to do the urology portion of the surgery.  The plaintiffs claimed that no consent was provided for the fellow.  The plaintiff had urologic complications in the recovery room immediately after surgery, and signs and symptoms of a urethral injury continued for several days at the hospital and for the next six weeks.  The plaintiff reported these problems during post-operative appointments.  Virginia Mason failed to do anything for the apparent urethral injury, even though the medical records stated that the stent procedure had been “traumatic.”  Plaintiffs sought treatment elsewhere at the six-week mark and the plaintiff was immediately diagnosed with an obliterated urethra.  Surgical repair of this condition was a two-stage process that took seven months.  Despite the surgical repair, the plaintiff was left with pain, disability and disfigurement.   

The four-week trial concluded in April 2017 and a verdict was returned in favor of the plaintiffs. The jury found that employees at the hospital violated the standard of care and awarded $6,000,000 in noneconomic damages to the patient and $2,500,000 to the patient’s wife. 

You can read the Seattle Times article about the verdict here.

Landmark case on police use of force and mental illness settles for $1 million after PWRFL defends Ninth Circuit ruling.

San Francisco agreed to pay $1 million to settle a case in which two police officers shot a mentally ill woman named Teresa Sheehan.  PWRFL represented Sheehan in the United States Supreme Court.

The case stems from an incident in August 2008 when two San Francisco police officers arrived at Teresa Sheehan’s residence to assist a social worker in transporting her to a hospital for treatment. Sheehan was unwilling to leave her room. Rather than waiting for non-lethal backup to arrive or utilizing de-escalation techniques for confrontations with mentally ill individuals, the officers forced their way into Sheehan’s room, pepper sprayed her and shot her multiple times, including once while Sheehan was on the floor. Sheehan survived but sustained permanent physical injuries.

On behalf of Sheehan, Leonard Feldman of Peterson Wampold Rosato Luna Knopp argued in the Supreme Court that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulates police conduct when officers confront individuals like Sheehan who are mentally ill.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals previously ruled that Sheehan should have the opportunity to present her case to a jury that the officers’ actions violated her rights under the ADA as a person with disabilities. The Supreme Court rejected San Francisco’s attempt to overturn the Ninth Circuit’s opinion and criticized San Francisco for presenting a “different argument” in its merits briefing from the argument it pressed in the Ninth Circuit. In a concurring and dissenting opinion, Justice Scalia agreed with that portion of the Court’s ruling, stating that the Court should “not reward such bait-and-switch tactics.” As a result, Sheehan’s ADA claim was sent back to the trial court as the Ninth Circuit previously ruled. 

After the case was sent back to the trial court, the parties engaged in settlement discussions and the matter eventually settled for $1 million. PWRFL is proud of the work it did in this landmark case. Mentally ill individuals confronted by police are entitled to the substantial protections of the ADA, and the Supreme Court’s decision allows individuals like Sheehan to pursue claims against public entities when their officers ignore the statute’s anti-discriminatory provisions.

Sheehan drew amicus support from numerous disability rights and mental health groups, civil rights organizations, and police accountability projects. The case was featured in stories by the Associated Press, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, Slate Magazine, The Guardian, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, KQED, Aljazeera America and the ACLU.

A link to the Court’s full decision is available here, and the brief submitted by Sheehan’s lawyers is available here, and additional information news coverage regarding the case and eventual settlement can be found here.

City of Seattle to pay $195,000 to woman punched by police officer while handcuffed.

Officer Adley Shepherd punched 23-year-old Miyekko Durden-Bosley while she sat handcuffed in the back-seat of his patrol car.   The blow shattered her orbital bone and left her concussed. Officer Shepherd’s attorney defended his conduct in the media, and claimed that it was an appropriate response because Ms. Durden-Bosley was intoxicated and had kicked at him before he punched her. 

PWRFL represented Ms. Durden-Bosley against Officer Shepherd and the City of Seattle, securing a $195,000 settlement for her pain and suffering.  

Read more here.

Hear one of the PWRFL attorneys who represented Ms. Durden-Bosley debate the merits of the case with KIRO Radio talk show host Dori Munson here.

PWRFL obtains highest settlement against City of Tukwila for unlawful use of force by police officers.

On May 12, 2012, Tukwila Police officers ordered brothers Jahmez Amili and Charles Chappelle to “stop” as part of an investigation into an incident aboard a party bus.  When the brothers, who had done nothing wrong, refused to do so, the chief officer on duty pointed his taser at both men, who stopped and raised their arms in acquiescence.  Then the chief officer, along with four other police officers, tackled the two brothers and began beating and pepper-spraying them.  The beating was captured on the dash camera of one of the officers.

PWRFL represented Mr. Amili and Mr. Chappelle against the City of Tukwila.  Early on in the case, PWRFL won a crucial motion against the City, convincing the federal judge assigned to the case to hold that the stop itself was unlawful as a matter of law.  Finally, after extensive litigation, the City of Tukwila settled the claim, and agreed to pay the two men a total of $425,000, the highest payout by the City of Tukwila for its recent rash of police beatings and settlements. 

Read more about this case here.

PWRFL obtains settlement for death of victim killed by outdated bus-tunnel escalator.

PWRFL secured a settlement of one million dollars against King County and a confidential resolution against KONE Escalators for the death of Maurecio Bell in April of 2013.  Mr. Bell was killed when his leather coat was caught in the comb plate at the bottom of an escalator in the University Street bus tunnel.  The escalator did not stop once Mr. Bell was entrapped and he was slowly strangled to death.  PWRFL filed suit against King County for negligently failing to update the escalator to include safety devices meant to prevent such an incident, and against KONE for negligent maintenance of the escalator and for building the escalator without those devices in the first place.  King County and KONE blamed Mr. Bell, claiming that the entrapment was a result of his own drunkenness.  After years of hard-fought litigation, King County finally agreed to pay the family of Mr. Bell one million dollars; KONE agreed to a confidential resolution. 

Read more about this case here and here.

PWRFL settles case against King County for $7,450,000 after our client is run over by Metro bus.

Our client was crossing the street in a crosswalk at the Kent Transit Center.  A Metro bus driver failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign before turning into the crosswalk that our client was walking in.  The Metro bus knocked our client to the ground and ran over her legs.  Our client’s husband – who had been waiting for his wife to pick her up – witnessed the entire incident.  Our client spent nearly two months at Harborview and underwent several reconstructive surgeries on her legs.  Despite a remarkable recovery, our client was left with no movement in her left knee and severe scarring on both of her legs. She was unable to return to work after the collision. 

PWRFL filed a lawsuit against King County for the Metro bus driver’s negligence.  The case settled three months before trial for $7,450,000.

Court of Appeals affirms PWRFL’s jury verdict for victims shot by gun-carrying minor allowed to enter Bellevue 21-and-over nightclub.

30-year-old Deshawn Milliken and his 21-year-old sister, Destiny Milliken, were shot while inside Bellevue Square's Munchbar nightclub. Mr. Milliken was killed and his younger sister, who was grazed with a bullet, watched him die. The nightclub was overcrowded and understaffed. The director of operations was in prison on the night of the shooting and the owner was in Paris; a young, inexperienced nightlife manager was left at the helm of one of the Northwest's largest nightclubs. Management and security failed to notice when an underage patron with a firearm walked through the front doors, despite their policy of patting everyone down and checking identification. No economic loss claim was made as Mr. Milliken was unemployed at the time of death; damages were sought for his young daughter's loss of her father, for his pre-death pain and suffering, and for damages suffered by his sister including watching her brother die. The defendants conceded negligence for permitting the shooter to enter the nightclub, but disputed that their negligence was a cause of the shooting.  They also argued that the Millikens were at fault because they had started the fight that had precipitated the shooting and because they had allegedly been looking for the shooter to settle a score from a burglary 20 months earlier. Because the Munchbar alleged comparative negligence, the jury was shown evidence of prior incidents that occurred at the Munchbar, and heard extensive testimony regarding their lax security protocol and efforts by police and the landlord to warn Munchbar. On the other hand, the jury also heard extensive evidence that Destiny Milliken had been upset with the shooter, knew that he carried a gun on at least one other occasion, and that he was dangerous.

PWRFL brought a lawsuit against the owners of the nightclub.  The case was tried to a Seattle jury, who awarded a total of $3,165,000 to the plaintiffs.

Following the trial, the defendant nightclub filed an appeal challenging the legal right of Mr. Milliken’s minor daughter to benefit from his Estate.  PWRFL defended its hard-fought verdict before the Washington Court of Appeals, Division One, and on August 8, 2016, the court affirmed the jury’s verdict, rejecting all of Munchbar’s legal arguments.  Nearly four years after Mr. Milliken’s death, the Munchbar nightclub was finally forced to pay for its role in his death. 

Read more about this case here.

PWRFL wins $607,779.84 jury verdict against Dearborn National Life Insurance Company for negligent misrepresentation to its employee.

Our client was employed by Dearborn National Life Insurance Company and was one of its top salespeople nationwide.  In late 2012, Dearborn began a large, companywide Reduction in Force (“RIF”).  Through no fault of his own, our client was one of the many employees who was slated to lose his job in this RIF.

Dearborn’s Regional Vice President told our client that his job was being officially eliminated, encouraged our client to find a new job, and said that if Dearborn gave any severance, it would be minimal and not more than two weeks’ pay.  Based on this information from the Regional Vice President, our client quickly found a new job and gave up the minimal severance he was told might be forthcoming.

Unbeknownst to our client and contrary to what he was told, Dearborn had specific, internal RIF and severance policies in place that required Dearborn to provide a RIF packet to affected employees that specifically detailed all severance benefits.

These policies also provided that the severance package for an employee with the equivalent role and tenure as our client would include a full year of base pay and a full year of incentive bonus pay. For our client, that amounted to $607,779.84.

Despite being told by Dearborn management that his job was eliminated and despite repeatedly seeking information about severance, our client was never provided with the RIF separation packet nor told of the separation benefits as required by Dearborn’s own policy.

Dearborn denied liability and claimed that our client was not entitled to severance because he “voluntarily resigned.” The case proceeded to trial in the Western District of Washington.  Following a two-week trial, the jury found that Dearborn was liable for negligent misrepresentation and awarded our client the full amount of the severance he was owed: $607,779.84.  After the jury verdict, Dearborn National was also ordered to pay two years of pre-judgment interest at 12%.

PWRFL wins one of the largest jury verdicts in Washington State history for claims related to negligence and violation of the Consumer Protection Act by an insurance company.

Defendant Continental Casualty Company was the dental malpractice insurer for Dr. Henri Duyzend.  In 2008 Dr. Duyzend retired from practicing dentistry and 267 of his former patients brought malpractice claims against him.  As Dr. Duyzend’s insurer, Continental received notice of the claims.  Continental quickly realized—or should have realized—that the claims being asserted against Dr. Duyzend far exceeded the policy’s $8 million limit. Continental also knew that Dr. Duyzend had no viable defense on liability and in fact Continental had no expert witness to defend Dr. Duyzend’s dental treatment.  Continental recognized that there was a high probability that a large verdict would be entered against Dr. Duyzend if the cases were to go to trial.  Continental concluded that the cases needed to be settled.  Despite that conclusion Continental never did an assessment of the total aggregate value of the claims. 

For more than four years, Continental failed to pursue or propose any mechanism to promptly resolve the claims against Dr. Duyzend and instead allowed the hundreds of claims to languish while Dr. Duyzend himself, local mediators, and attorneys all warned Continental that it was violating Washington law.  Despite numerous warnings and the fact that the long delay in getting claims resolved was causing claimants to switch attorneys in favor of more aggressive ones who were less inclined to settle, Continental did not change its strategy for adjusting the Duyzend claims at any point in 2011.  And, by fall 2011, Continental had resolved under a third of the total claims (31%), but had already spent over half of the policy limits—$4.2 million (53%).

Because of Continental’s years of delay, 29 plaintiffs left their first counsel and hired PWRFL and filed suit against Dr. Duyzend in King County Superior Court in September 2011.  That case proceeded to trial and a $35.2 million judgment was entered against Dr. Duyzend.  Following that judgment, the plaintiffs were able to collect millions of dollars from Dr. Duyzend.  In addition, Dr. Duyzend assigned his claims against Continental to his 29 former patients, and PWRFL pursued claims against Continental based on its substandard handling of the malpractice claims against Dr. Duyzend. 

The case against Continental also proceeded to trial in the Western District of Washington and following a three-week jury trial, a verdict was returned in favor of plaintiffs for $16.4 million for Continental's negligence and violation of Washington's Consumer Protection Act.

PWRFL obtains jury verdict against at-fault driver and Allstate Insurance that far exceeds all insurance policy limits available; PWRFL follows with an Insurance Fair Conduct Act claim against Allstate.

Our client, 60-year-old Joan Slocombe, sustained a low back injury in a rear end auto collision.  The injury resulted in left leg radiculopathy and neurological changes in the sacrum.  Our client’s physicians testified that the injuries were permanent, while the doctor hired by the insurance companies to evaluate our client testified that our client’s injuries from the collision were minor.  The at-fault driver had insurance policy limits of $100,000 and our client had underinsured motorist coverage limits of $100,000.  Following trial in December 2013, a jury returned a verdict in favor of our client awarding her all of her medical bills in the amount of $45,120 and an additional $625,000 in non-economic damages.  After the verdict was returned, our client sued Allstate for insurance bad faith and violation of the Insurance Fair Conduct Act.

Download a copy of the Verdict Form.

PWRFL obtains verdict for a 2-year-old and his parents after Swedish Hospital leaves a 50-centimeter metal guide wire in the child.

Two-year-old Jaxom Swain Schons was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Swedish Medical Center-First Hill in Seattle, Washington, after having some febrile seizures following recent vaccinations. It was difficult to get an IV started in the child's arm so the Pediatric Intensivist on duty, defendant Dr. Michael Shannon, decided to insert a central line IV catheter. The procedure involved inserting a metal guide wire into the femoral vein before placing the catheter. Def. Dr. Shannon inserted the central line IV when he was 41 hours into his 48-hour weekend shift. When it was determined that there were no serious medical issues causing the child's fever, he was discharged home the next day. For the next six months the child was walking funny with a wide gait and complained of neck pain and a headache. The doctors could not find a cause for these issues. In February 2012, the parents noticed a bump on their child's neck, and when the bump moved and changed, a series of x-rays were taken, which revealed two long metal wires in the child's body. The child underwent emergency surgery and two wires that the surgeon and pathologist concluded were a medical guide wire were removed. Following surgery, the child showed some minor developmental regression but otherwise recovered quite well. The health care providers who initially saw the wires on the x-rays got Child Protective Services (CPS) involved and the parents dealt with that entity until CPS understood that the wires were from a medical procedure six months earlier. Swedish Medical Center did not have any sort of checklist for its physicians to use when placing central line IV catheters. Defendants denied liability and claimed that the guide wire used by Dr. Shannon malfunctioned in that the welds broke and the outer coil became separated, and there was no way that Dr. Shannon would have realized that the wire was left in the child's body. They also claimed that minimal damage had occurred.

The two-week trial concluded in December 2013 and a verdict was returned in favor of the family.  The jury found that the defendants violated the standard of care and awarded $1,000,000 in noneconomic damages. 

Click here to link to the King 5 News Story.

Michael Wampold honored with induction into American College of Trial Lawyers.

Michael Wampold was honored in 2013 with induction into the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers.  Fellowship in ACTL is by invitation only after a very thorough investigation.  It honors only the best attorneys in the country.  They are chosen from trial lawyers on both sides and from many fields of litigation practice.  As explained on the ACTL website, fellowship is limited to those who are “not only [] skilled trial lawyers who are recognized by judges and practitioners as the very best in their states or provinces, but as persons whose ethics, moral standards, collegiality, and community standing are exemplary.”   It is a singular honor usually reserved for people who have had a long and distinguished career.  Few members are as young as Mike at the time of their induction.  We are very proud of Mike. 

PWRFL wins the largest dental malpractice verdict in the history of Washington State.

PWRFL represented 29 patients against their former dentist after undergoing hundreds of negligently performed and unnecessary procedures including root canals and crowns over many years. The defendant dentist engaged in a pattern and practice of telling his patients that root canals and crowns were medically indicated to save their teeth, when in reality no treatment was needed and the teeth were healthy. The patients all faced many years of dental re-treatments to repair the extensive damage that the defendant dentist inflicted. The case was tried in July 2013 and a verdict was returned in favor of the patients, totaling $35,212,000. This is the largest dental malpractice verdict in Washington State history and is believed to be the largest dental malpractice verdict in the history of the United States.

PWRFL obtains significant jury verdict after two teenagers are hit in a crosswalk near Mercer Island High School.

PWRFL’s clients were walking in a crosswalk in front of Mercer Island High School on their way to school when they were hit by a car that failed to slow down.  Our female client sustained facial trauma and had to undergo dental reconstructive treatment.  Our male client sustained only minor injuries but experienced anxiety after seeing his sister’s trauma.  A 12-person jury trial occurred in King County Superior Court in 2012 and the jury awarded a total of $235,000 to our young clients.

PWRFL wins unprecedented verdict for three surviving adult children whose mother died of bacterial meningitis at Overlake Hospital.

The decedent, age 64, went to the emergency room at Overlake Hospital after being discharged the day before with a diagnosis of flu-like illness. The decedent had a headache, vomiting, neck stiffness and a history of fever. The emergency room physician ordered a white blood cell count and an MRI of the decedent’s neck. The white blood count was elevated at 19,200 and the MRI showed enhancement of the meninges consistent with meningitis. The radiologist recommended a lumbar puncture to rule out meningitis, but the physician did not perform the lumbar puncture and discharged the decedent. The woman became confused later in the day and returned to the emergency room. A lumbar puncture was finally performed and she was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. The woman died the next day, with her three adult children and four grandchildren at her bedside, all of whom miss her dearly every day.

The three week trial concluded in January 2012 and a verdict was returned in favor of the plaintiff after five days of jury deliberation. The jury found that the emergency room physician violated the standard of care and caused the decedent’s death, and awarded $3,000,000 in noneconomic damages.

PWRFL wins $3,000,000 medical malpractice verdict against Group Health.

PWRFL wins $3,000,000 medical malpractice verdict for 66-year-old professional auctioneer who suffered nerve injury affecting her tongue during surgery.

PWRFL’s client was the most successful female gala auctioneer in the Northwest. She was also a surgical nurse with nearly forty years of experience caring for patients in the Seattle area. In 2007, a body scan revealed that our client’s right carotid artery was partially blocked with plaque that had built up during her 64 years of life. She decided to have a carotid endarterectomy, an operation to remove the blockage, at Group Health, where she had been a patient for thirty years. During the surgery, which was otherwise routine, a Group Health surgeon mistook the nerve that controls the tongue for a vein, and cut it. The surgeon then proceeded to repair the nerve, even though he did not have the necessary training or experience to do so. The repair was not successful, and our client suffered permanent speech and swallowing difficulties and has a permanent pain disorder because of her nerve injury. Our client’s speech difficulties cost her the auctioneering career she had worked decades to build.

The trial took place in August 2009 in King County. It lasted just over two weeks, and was against very experienced and talented defense counsel. Experts testified from around the country. At the end of the trial, the jury found that the Group Health surgeon violated the standard of care when he cut and repaired our client’s nerve, and awarded $3,000,000 in economic and noneconomic damages.

PWRFL obtains multi-million dollar settlement for the family of Microsoft attorney, Matthew Q. Ammon, who was killed when a tower crane collapsed and struck his apartment.

In mid-2009, PWRFL settled a case it had filed against Lease Crutcher Lewis and Magnusson Klemencic Associates on behalf of the Estate of Matthew Q. Ammon, who was killed when a tower crane collapsed and struck his apartment. On November 16, 2006, at about 7:30 in the evening, Matthew was in his apartment after having returned home from the Microsoft offices in Redmond, where he worked as a patent attorney. A 210-foot tower crane located on a construction site nearby collapsed when the steel base supporting the crane failed as the result of a fatigue crack that had formed over the course of several days. The crane struck Matthew’s apartment, killing him instantly.

PWRFL filed a lawsuit on behalf of Matthew’s estate because, under current Washington law, Matthew’s parents did not have standing to bring their own claim for the loss of their relationship with their son. The case was litigated for almost two years in King County Superior Court before settling just days before the start of trial. The settlement sum is confidential.

Washington has now passed crane safety legislation aimed at preventing further catastrophic collapses like this one. Information on that legislation and the corresponding new rules enacted in the wake of that legislation can be found here.

Washington is also considering revisions to the wrongful death statute that would allow for parents to bring a claim for their damages in connection with the wrongful death of their adult children. For more information about that effort, please contact your state representative.

Brian A. Putra (1944-2009): founding partner, outstanding trial lawyer, and superb friend.

We at PWRFL were and remain shocked and deeply saddened by the untimely passing of one of the firm’s founding partners, Brian A. Putra. Brian died peacefully in his sleep on April 17, 2009. Brian brought passion and pride to his work and to his relationship with his family. We at PWRFL will forever remember Brian’s humor, intellect, and his love for the practice of law.

Download the article written for the Trial News by Brian’s partner in law and lifelong friend, Jan Peterson.

Download the obituary that ran in the Seattle Times.

PWRFL obtains judgment after trial against two individuals who stabbed a man in front of his wife during a road rage incident.

In May 2009, PWRFL obtained a judgment following trial in King County Superior Court on behalf of a man who was stabbed in front of his wife following a rear end collision. Sean Kiteley was beaten and stabbed to within an inch of his life by two men. After months of physical therapy and rehabilitation, Sean is able to function well but is in constant pain due to a likely permanent injury to his ulnar nerve. PWRFL accepted the representation pro bono, as neither defendant is ever expected to have the financial means to satisfy the judgment.

Download a copy of the Court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Founding partner Christopher E. Young announces retirement after 45 years of practice.

For 45 years, Chris has tirelessly fought on behalf of victims of medical negligence, therapist sexual misconduct, employment discrimination, and more. In every case, Chris brought a passion for her work and for her clients that was unsurpassed in the legal community. In 1978, Chris and Jan Peterson won the first ever medical malpractice case with a verdict in excess of $1,000,000 in Washington. As a former lawyer for the ACLU, Chris has always made her practice about championing for the rights of individuals. Chris may be best known for her representation of a group of female employees in a class action discrimination case against Safeco Insurance. The case was one of the first class action ever filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Chris intends to devote time to her painting and to her son and to travel frequently to her vacation home in Montana.

PWRFL obtains largest dental malpractice jury verdict in King County history.

Our client, a 52-year-old woman, saw Dr. William Colwell, an oral surgeon, for removal of her lower wisdom teeth. During the procedure, Dr. Colwell failed to remove the lower left wisdom tooth, which was fully erupted and in plain sight. Instead of removing the tooth, Dr. Colwell negligently performed a surgical procedure behind the erupted wisdom tooth. Dr. Colwell drilled a large hole in our client's lower jaw bone and cut two nerves during the negligent surgery. Our client was left with permanent pain, burning, numbness and tingling on the left side of her face, mouth and tongue.

PWRFL filed a lawsuit against Dr. Colwell alleging failure to follow the standard of care for an oral surgeon in the State of Washington. Following an 8-day trial, a King County jury awarded $650,000 to our client. The entire verdict was for general damages including pain, suffering, and disability. No economic damages were presented to the jury. This is the largest dental malpractice verdict in King County history. With the exception of one verdict in Spokane County, this is also the largest dental malpractice verdict in the State of Washington.

PWRFL settles wrongful death case for $1,750,000 on second day of trial.

Donald Totten was driving on the Bothell-Everett Highway when a vehicle driven by Monica Rome crossed five lanes of traffic and crashed head-on into Mr. Totten’s vehicle, killing him. Ms. Rome had a long history of addiction to narcotic pain medications and the State toxicology report showed that she had more than a therapeutic dose of those medications in her blood at the time of the crash. Ms. Rome was running an errand for her employer at the time of the crash and there was some evidence that her employer knew about her addiction to narcotic medications.

PWRFL filed a lawsuit against Ms. Rome and against her employer alleging negligent entrustment of the vehicle. Trial began on March 24, 2008, in Snohomish County. All of the defendants admitted liability a few days before trial began and the trial judge granted the defendants’ motion in limine to exclude all evidence of Ms. Rome’s drug use and the employer’s knowledge thereof. The case settled for $1,750,000 on the second day of trial following jury selection.

PWRFL obtains recission and damages in favor of franchise owners for violations of Washington Franchise Investment Protection Act.

In February 2008, PWRFL represented two sets of franchise owners during a 4-day private trial before the Honorable Terry Lukens (ret.). The buyers purchased drive-thru espresso stands in the south Puget Sound area. At the time of the sale, the seller provided false financial information to the buyers. The seller also failed to disclose to the buyers his side deal with a coffee roasting company whereby the seller received commissions for every pound of coffee purchased by the buyers.

Judge Lukens found that Washington’s Franchise Investment Protection Act (FIPA) applied to the transactions and that the seller had breached the FIPA in a number of ways. Judge Lukens ordered recission of the contracts, awarded damages to the buyers, ordered payment of the buyer’s attorneys’ fees and costs, and imposed a punitive award against the seller under the FIPA.

PWRFL settles case involving death of an ironworker for $3,450,000.

In July 2006, an ironworker fell more than 30 feet to his death when a bundle of metal decking to which his safety lanyard was attached fell to the ground below. The general contractor on the project, Turner Construction, condoned the subcontractor’s practice of instructing ironworkers to tie-off to bundles of metal decking that the ironworkers had to move along the roof of the building. The evidence that PWRFL developed showed that the general contractor knew that the subcontractor had a poor safety record but hired the subcontractor anyway because it was the low bidder for the project.

The deceased ironworker was survived by his wife and two young daughters. The case settled for $3,450,000 following a mediation with Commissioner Joanne Tompkins of Judicial Dispute Resolution.

PWRFL wins $5.39 million medical malpractice jury verdict.

Tri Hoang was a healthy 30-year-old black belt in two forms of martial arts. Tri was also a systems engineer at aQuantive, a local Internet company that recently was purchased by Microsoft. In 2004, after he had passed out twice, Tri’s family rushed him to Swedish Hospital. After a brief visit, an emergency room doctor at Swedish told Tri that he likely had heartburn. Tri was sent home. Swedish sent Mr. Hoang home despite having a chest x-ray that was abnormal, chest pain radiating to the throat and right arm numbness. In fact, Mr. Hoang had a tear in his aorta and died days later. The jury awarded $3.8 million in economic damages, $100,000 in pre-death pain and suffering and $1.5 million for loss of consortium.

The trial took place in August 2007 in King County. It lasted four weeks and was against very experienced defense counsel. Experts testified from around the country. At the end of the trial, the jury was convinced that the emergency room doctor violated the standard of care in sending Mr. Hoang home.

Representing father of family of five killed by unsecured shelving unit that fell onto I-5.

Gavin Coffee was killed after a shelving unit, which had not been tied down, fell from the back of a pickup truck on Interstate 5. The fallen object caused a multi-car accident that injured several people and took Gavin’s life. Gavin was on his way to watch his sons play at soccer camp at the time of the accident.

The driver and passenger of the pickup, a grandfather and his grandson, were prosecuted under a recently-enacted law that makes it a crime to fail to secure a payload in certain circumstances. It was the first time the King County Prosecutor had invoked the new law. Grandfather and grandson pled guilty and, based in part on Gavin’s wife’s request that no jail time be imposed, the two men were sentenced to perform 200 hours of community service.

For more information on this important law and the harm caused by failing to tie down cargo, please visit

PWRFL obtains settlement for Sound Transit worker who sustained serious leg injury while working on light rail project.

Tyler Scott was seriously injured while working for a subcontractor on Sound Transit’s Beacon Hill light rail tunnel project when a heavy steel pulley five feet in diameter fell from the tip of a crane boom nearly 120 feet above Mr. Scott’s head. Hydraulic hoses on that pulley knocked Mr. Scott into a deep, liquid-filled shaft that he was helping to excavate. His right knee and ankle were shattered. His doctors told him that he could not return to the construction trade and that he would be restricted to a desk job for the rest of his work life.

PWRFL sued both Sound Transit and the project’s general contractor, Obayashi Corporation. Sound Transit claimed that this was an unforeseeable accident caused by an unpredictable electrical failure. The general contractor also argued that they had hired a specialty subcontractor, Mr. Scott’s employer, precisely because the equipment involved was unique and unfamiliar to them.

PWRFL was able to uncover evidence that there had been prior trouble with the digging equipment and that the companies’ jobsite safety plans were substandard. PWRFL’s consulting construction safety experts testified that proper safety plans if correctly implemented would have prevented Mr. Scott’s injury. PWRFL also developed evidence showing that the general contractor was actually quite familiar with this equipment and in fact had co-developed versions of it in Japan in previous years.

The case was settled at mediation less than two months before trial for $1.4 million.

See the article about the case in the Seattle PI.

PWRFL obtains verdict after trial on behalf of young boy with loss of hearing and brain damage following undiagnosed blood infection.

In 2007, PWRFL won a judgment in excess of $2.9 million on behalf of the family of a young boy, Evan Smith, who suffered deafness and neurological injuries as a result of an undiagnosed infection of the blood. At age two, Evan was taken to the Emergency Department at Valley Medical Center with a temperature of 104.8˚ F following cold-like symptoms. At the Emergency Department, Evan was seen by a physician’s assistant (PA) who ordered a chest x-ray but no laboratory tests. The chest x-ray was misread by both the PA and by his supervising physician (who never actually saw or examined Evan) as showing pneumonia. Evan was given a prescription for a drug called Zithromax and sent home. Evan subsequently developed pneumococcal meningitis and, as a result, suffered deafness in both ears and neurological injuries.

After a two-and-a-half-week trial, the Court found that plaintiffs’ experts were persuasive in showing that the healthcare providers at Valley Medical Center were negligent in failing to do further tests on Evan and in failing to diagnose the significant probability that Evan was suffering from bacteremia, an infection of the bloodstream. Had Evan been treated with Ceftriaxone, an antibiotic to treat blood infections, the bacteremia would not have been able to develop into the bacterial meningitis that resulted in Evan’s hearing loss.

After the trial, we wrote to Evan’s family asking if they would be interested in providing a quote for this summary to appear on our website. Evan’s mother responded by saying, “I hope for the purposes of this quote I have succinctly summarized my satisfaction but also hope you understand that this is only the tip of the iceberg and we couldn’t have felt more taken care of or in better hands, and are completely confident of this endorsement. So, simply put, a line or two: We highly recommend the superior attorneys of Peterson Young Putra [now called PWRFL]. We wouldn’t be more pleased with their caring and expertise in handling our case.”

To download a copy of the Court’s decision in this case, click here.

PWRFL wins substantial arbitration award for technology company.

In 2006, PWRFL represented a technology company that had entered into an exclusive distributorship agreement with another technology company. After the opposing party breached the agreement, PWRFL filed an arbitration action for the client. The case went to arbitration before The Honorable Robert Alsdorf and the result was a sizeable award for PWRFL’s client. In addition to awarding substantial damages, Judge Alsdorf also awarded PWRFL a “multiplier” on the fees it incurred on the client’s behalf.

In his decision, Judge Alsdorf had this to say about why he awarded the multiplier:

[The opposing party] vigorously contested liability. There was risk in this case. [The opposing party] presented testimony of witnesses who turned out not to be fully credible. It is not an easy task to challenge the credibility of witnesses whose statements initially appear to have at least a superficial plausibility. In addition, a clause limiting liability was overcome only when claimant made a clear showing of deceptive and misleading conduct. Such difficulty deserves application of a multiplier.

PWRFL obtains settlement for mother and unborn child injured from undiagnosed bowel obstruction in mother.

In 2006, PWRFL obtained a settlement, the terms of which are confidential, for a young mother and her child injured as a result of an undiagnosed bowel obstruction in the mother. The young woman, who was on vacation with her husband, was taken by ambulance to a local hospital with severe abdominal pain. After having never been seen by a doctor, she was discharged with a diagnosis of constipation. Later that night, the husband called the hospital to report increasing pain and, after that, again took the young woman to be seen. Again, the young woman was never seen by a doctor. After having been redirected to another hospital about an hour’s drive away, the woman went into shock. She was operated on at the second hospital, where she had a large portion of her small intestine removed. Her ten-week-old fetus survived the surgery, but was born with permanent brain damage. PWRFL represented mother, father and child.

Following the settlement, our client wrote this in a letter to one of the PWRFL attorneys who worked on the case: “I will never know all of the hours and work that went into this, but I do know that without you I’d have fallen apart long ago and would have questioned whether I had the strength to keep going forward.”

PWRFL obtains settlement for mother and estate of six-year-old child killed in a boating collision in Eastern Washington.

In 2006, PWRFL obtained a settlement for a mother and the estate of her six-year-old daughter. The young girl was vacationing with her father, who was divorced from her mother, in Eastern Washington. The girl was riding as a passenger in a speed boat while one of her father’s close friends was driving the boat. The driver had been drinking alcohol and taking pain medication in the hours before the collision. The collision occurred when the driver crashed the boat into the rocky shore of a lake. The terms of the settlement required the defendant to attend and complete a drug and alcohol treatment program. Ultimately, the defendant was criminally prosecuted.

PWRFL donated $50,000 of its fee to various charities in the young girl’s memory.

Following the settlement, PWRFL’s client wrote this in a letter to the attorneys who worked on the case: “You have been a caring and professional team. When I hired Michael [Wampold], I remember Jan [Peterson] stating ‘when you hire one of us you hire this whole firm’ and Jan’s words were proven to be correct. It has been a pleasure working with you … from the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

PWRFL obtains jury verdict against GEICO that far exceeds our client’s UIM policy limits in an auto collision trial; PWRFL follows with an Insurance Fair Conduct Act claim against GEICO.

Our client sustained a low back injury (herniated disc) in a March 2005 auto collision. PWRFL negotiated a policy limits settlement with the at-fault driver and proceeded to trial against our client’s underinsured motorist carrier, GEICO. Before trial, PWRFL offered to settle for less than the UIM policy limits, but GEICO declined.  Following a week-long trial in September 2009, the jury awarded nearly $290,000 to our client, which was far in excess of the UIM policy limits. Following the trial, PWRFL filed a complaint for bad faith and violation of Washington’s new Insurance Fair Conduct Act (“IFCA”) statute against GEICO.  GEICO promptly settled the bad faith and IFCA claims with our client. In the end, GEICO had to pay nearly double its policy limits.

Click here to download a copy of the jury’s verdict.

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