Landslide Liability

Our firm has a long history defending government entities in landslide cases in Washington and other states. In the Pacific Northwest, landslides are not unusual and, as in other regions of the country, government entities often become targets as the de facto insurers of last resort. Effectively defending lawsuits against municipalities and others for damage caused by landslides, floods and storm water management infrastructure requires the ability to make a highly technical set of facts regarding hydrology, geology and civil engineering understandable and engaging to judge or jury. We’ve developed a track record of turning the science of dirt and water into a narrative that makes sense and wins.

We also recognize litigation is not the only priority for city and county governments following a landslide or other natural disaster. In fact, litigation often is not the first concern of government after such an event. Long before the lawyers have filed their complaints, there are all kinds of pressures on elected officials and government employees to say or to do something quickly in the aftermath of an oft-times terrible event. We understand the public relations and public communications pressure that landslides create for government officials. It’s critical that the defense team assist in developing transparent and empathetic responses immediately following a landslide, and understand risk management in light of possible litigation. Our government defense team, led by a former in-house assistant city attorney, brings this sensitivity to every case.

Representative Cases

Otrubova v. City of Seattle.  Defended City against tort and inverse condemnation claims alleging damages caused by stormwater outfall; obtained summary judgment on some claims and complete defense verdict at jury trial on remaining claims; argued all results on appeal, and prevailed in Court of Appeals.

Northwest Art Glass v. City of Seattle.  Defended claims by commercial property owners alleging damages relating to landslide from city park; obtained favorable settlement.

Alki Condominium Association v. City of Seattle.  Defended City against multi-million dollar landslide damage claims; obtained complete defense verdict at jury trial.

Weeden v. Point No Point View Estates, et al.  Defended claims against homeowners’ association arising from landslide damage to adjacent property; obtained favorable settlement.

Montano v. City of Seattle.  Defended tort and inverse condemnation claims brought by multiple property owners alleging damage resulting from City’s management of surface water and storm response.

Phillips Scale v. City of Seattle.  Defended claims against City for damages resulting from landslide; obtained favorable settlement.