The story of every case has the same three bedrock elements: a duty, a breach, and damages. For many business relationships and commercial transactions, the duties are created by contract. Thus, protecting our clients’ contractual rights is at the core of what we do. We have successfully represented clients ranging from start-ups to the Fortune 500, including high-tech and e-commerce companies, financial institutions, manufacturers, retailers, service providers, and entrepreneurs. Our experience extends to disputes arising from all manner of agreements, including supply and distribution agreements, intellectual property and licensing contracts, purchase and sale agreements, financing and investment arrangements, service contracts, contracts for the sale of goods, co-branding and promotional agreements, and joint ventures. Often these cases involve claims for fraud, misrepresentation, tortious interference with a business relationship, unjust enrichment, or violation of state or federal statutes regulating business practices, such as the Consumer Protection Act, the Lanham Act, the Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act, the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, or the Washington Securities Act. We’ve handled them all—skillfully and successfully.
Some of the most thorny and contentious disputes arise in connection with the decisions or actions of company management and ownership, such as in a disputed buyout or dissolution, in litigating claims for breach of corporate duties, or in proxy fights. These disputes often involve complex valuation issues, complicated facts, uncertain damages, and high stakes. Our experience includes the successful representation of directors, officers and shareholders in cases alleging breach of fiduciary and other duties, shareholders and management in oppression cases, and officials in disputes arising out of disputed corporate elections.
With personal reputations on the line and the potential for recovery of attorneys’ fees, employment litigation can have high stakes. We’ve been on both sides of these issues, representing employers ranging from high-tech start-ups to the State of Washington, individual defendants, and plaintiffs. We have successfully handled discrimination claims under Title VII and the Washington Law Against Discrimination, as well as claims under state and federal wage and hour laws.
Our clients include major banks, financial institutions, and underwriters. Our experience includes cases arising from securitizations and other asset-backed securities, interest rate swaps and other derivatives, lender liability claims, allegations of securities violations, and claims for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. This broad experience in financial disputes enables us to understand the unique concerns and objectives of these clients, and the legal and strategic issues that arise in making these complex matters understandable and accessible to juries and judges.
Defending cities and other public entities in litigation requires a strong understanding of the concerns unique to them and their officials, including policy matters, organizational constraints, and the transparency inherent in the public nature of their activities, brought most keenly to bear through the Public Records Act. We have represented Washington cities, counties, and the State of Washington, as well as department heads and other public officials, in matters ranging from a class action challenging a major acquisition by the Port of Seattle to the defense of employment discrimination, inverse condemnation, and tort claims. Typically we are retained to assist with complex matters that public entities deem best handled by outside counsel. We also have been hired to represent public agencies, such as the State of Washington Executive Ethics Board and the City of Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, in the conduct of investigations.
For many clients, intellectual property is their most valuable asset, and protecting it is among their highest priorities. This may require litigation regarding misappropriation of trade secrets or breach of a non-compete or licensing agreement, or claims for patent infringement or violation of rights protected under trademark and copyright laws. We not only understand the law that protects these interests but, even more important—and sometimes not understood by firms that specialize narrowly in this area—how to explain the complicated technical concepts of an invention or trade secret in a way that makes sense to a judge or jury in the context of a story that compels a winning result. We have successfully represented corporate and individual clients in cases involving utility patents, software code, manufacturing processes, customer lists, and business plans and processes.
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 a judge or jury. We know how to turn the science of dirt and water into a narrative that makes sense and wins. We have extensive experience in the defense of such lawsuits, including the defense of several cases involving large groups of plaintiffs and damage claims in the multi-millions. We have tried these cases to verdict and won, and we’ve won others on summary judgment.
Real estate disputes are multi-faceted. They can involve issues of valuation requiring the ability to work closely with experts to develop sound appraisals, complex deal documents requiring careful analysis and interpretation to be made clear, law that has been on the books for nearly a century applied today in a context very different than that in which it was written, and facts that are as likely to be in public archives as they are to live in witnesses’ memories. We know how to navigate this landscape. We have successfully represented banks, borrowers, owners, developers, and personal guarantors in litigation involving design and development agreements, loan agreements, lien priorities and deficiency judgments, easement and title disputes, valuation, and trespass, waste, and premises liability claims.
State and federal laws and regulations can create significant liability for various parties involved in the sale of a security. We’ve represented not just issuers and purchasers but also underwriters, lawyers and others in litigation claiming violation of both federal and state securities laws. We’ve navigated the complex web of federal securities laws under both the 1933 and 1934 Acts to develop winning arguments for dismissal of claims against issuers, underwriters, and individuals. The Washington State Securities Act can create liability for a potentially broad set of transactions and individuals or entities, sometimes beyond that imposed by the federal laws. We have used this aspect of the law creatively, both to defend successfully claims of seller liability and to obtain the unique remedies available under the State act for clients who have been led to invest in bad deals.
Trust and estate litigation is litigation: it requires a litigator’s skills. We are trial lawyers who also understand the statutes, procedures and issues unique to the probate and administration of wills and trusts. We have successfully represented both personal representatives and beneficiaries in will contests and disputes involving claims of undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity, defended petitions for the removal of personal representatives or trustees for breach of their duties, and asserted the rights of beneficiaries of trusts and estates.
Recognizing the value of strategic thinking before the courtroom looms, many clients approach us well before litigation is on the horizon, to best position themselves just in case. Our risk management and strategic advice helps our clients to avoid litigation by taking sensible, defensible positions when disputes arise, and to win litigation that can’t be avoided by taking the right steps in advance to set up their claims and defenses to prevail. Examples include helping a leading national on-line retailer plan its negotiating positions in light of available contract rights, obligations and remedies, assisting a new e-commerce company structure its website to avoid litigation or to win it if it comes, and advising a major software company regarding potential non-competition issues arising from prior employment of new hires.