In Washington, a party does not have to actually file a complaint in Superior Court to start a lawsuit and trigger the time period within which the defendant must respond.[1]  Instead, a party can commence a lawsuit by serving a complaint and summons on the defendant.[2]  This process is commonly called “pocket service.”  It is different ...


We are pleased to announce that Savitt Bruce & Willey LLP has again been recognized by U.S News & World Report as a “Best Law Firm” both nationally and regionally in multiple practice areas. The firm’s Intellectual Property Litigation practice was again ranked as a top firm nationally. And SBW was recognized once again as a “Tier 1” top firm ...


We are pleased to announce that James Herr has joined SBW as an associate. James brings his passion, creativity and significant trial experience to our firm and the representation of our clients.  Before joining Savitt Bruce & Willey, James handled civil rights litigation and criminal cases at the Mazzone Law firm and the Snohomish County Public Defenders, where he tried more ...


We are pleased to announce the promotion of Sarah Gohmann Bigelow and Brandi B. Balanda to Of Counsel with our firm. Sarah has been providing excellent service to our clients since 2011.  Her practice focuses on business tort, intellectual property, class action, and securities claims across multiple industries. Sarah has successfully represented technology startups and their founders in trade secret and ...


The core mission of Best Lawyers is to highlight top legal talent in America. Lawyers listed to The Best Lawyers in America are divided by geographic region and practice areas. Recognition is based entirely on peer review concerning professional expertise in particular areas, through a confidential evaluation and voting process. We congratulate five of our partners on their selection to the 2021 ...


As we discussed in Part One of this blog post, “force majeure” clauses are commonplace in business contracts, and virtually every force-majeure clause includes express provision for some or all natural disasters, along with civic, bureaucratic, and military disruptions.

But the pandemic has caused many disruptions that cannot be attributed to an act of government; as the nation reopens, it is likely that those disruptions will continue for some time.  One of a two common catch-all provisions in force-majeure clauses may extend to cover a pandemic.


In a prior post, this blog explored a range of defenses to contract claims brought in the wake of nonperformance caused by the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  This post examines one such defense in detail—the force majeure defense—and how the unique circumstances of the pandemic may impact attempts to assert or defeat such a defense.


SBW Lawyers recognized by Super Lawyers

We are proud that all our firm's partners -- David Bruce, James Savitt, Michele Stephen, Stephen Willey, Miles Yanick, and Duncan Manville have been voted to the 2020 Super Lawyers list, including two to the list of the 2020 Top 100 Washington Super Lawyers.  We also congratulate Duffy Graham, named again to Washington ...


Court systems across the country are on indefinite hold.  The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington has continued all in-person civil and criminal proceedings scheduled to occur before August 3, 2020 pending further order of the Court.[1]  In Washington state courts, all civil and criminal jury trials are suspended until at least July 6, 2020.[2]  The King County Superior Court plans – tentatively – to resume jury trials in sometime in July.

Although much pretrial lawyering can be done remotely, jury trials require public participation, and historically have been conducted in-person.  But while Washington has flattened the curve, public health professionals unanimously agree that premature resumption of pre-pandemic life would pose a grave threat to the public health.  Life will not go back to “normal” all at once.


Forty years ago, on May 18, 1980, Washington’s once-conical Mount St. Helens erupted, killing approximately 57 people, and causing millions, if not billions, in damages.  Writers in both the Seattle Times[1] and the New York Times[2] recently have argued that tensions between science, politics, and economics that came to the fore with the Mount St. Helens eruption teach something pertinent to the policy-making challenges presented by a pandemic.

That may be true, but it is above our pay grade.  Our more limited point today is that governmental policymakers should be immune from liability in tort for their policy judgments in response to a natural disaster – like Mount St. Helens, or like a pandemic.