RECENT

CASES

Michaelson v. Employment Security Department, Wn. App. (Div. 3 2015).

Client was fired from his truck driving job after involvement in three accidents in one year. The accidents were deemed "chargeable" by the employer, even though in one case the other driver pulled behind Michaelson while he was in reverse, and one involved a dent in a bumper left from a loading dock. The State's denial of unemployment benefits was reversed by the Pierce County Superior Court, and the State appealed. Division 3 of the Court of Appeal in Spokane affirmed the trial court's ruling that negligence does not necessarily equate to the "misconduct" required to deny unemployment benefits under state law.

 

Tan v. Le, 177 Wn. 2d 649 (Wash. 2013), cert denied 134 S. Ct. 941 (2014).

I was one of two trial counsel and five appellate counsel for five Vietnamese refugees sued for defamation in Thurston County Superior Court for publishing statements on the internet accusing a local public figure of supporting communism. I argued the First Amendment right to free speech barred the entire case, but the jury awarded the plaintiff  over $300,000. Division Two of the Court of Appeal threw out the entire case on First Amendment grounds in 2011, but the verdict was reinstated by the Washington State Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court declined review in 2014.

 

Barnett v. Sequim Valley Ranch, 174 Wn. App. 475 ( Div.2 2013), review denied, 178 Wn. 2d 1014 (Wash. 2013).

A lavender farm owner in Sequim threatened employees who refused to commit perjury and feign illness in a lawsuit against a neighboring dairy farm for environmental pollution. A Clallam County Superior court jury held the employer liable for constructive discharge in violation of public policy. The jury awarded wage loss and emotional distress damages over $420,000, and the trial court added attorneys fees. The verdict was upheld by Division Two of the Court of Appeal and the Washington State Supreme Court declined  review in 2013.

 

Jane Doe v State of Washington, Pierce County Superior Court, 2012.

A Pierce County Superior Court jury awarded my client $200,000.00 for emotional distress for invasion of privacy-public disclosure of private facts. The claim was based on a psychologist’s publication of personal information  shared in confidence.

 

Thompson v. King Feed & Nutrition, 153 Wn. 2d 447 (Wash. 2005).

The defendant feed company stored wet hay in my client's barn in Enumclaw which caught fire and burned to the ground. A forensic investigation revealed the fire was caused by the defendant's negligent storage of wet hay, which spontaneously combusted. But, the defendant denied all responsibility claiming the fire was a freak accident of nature. A King County Superior Court jury found the defendant negligent and 100% at fault for the fire and awarded damages of $300,000.00. The verdict was affirmed by Division One of the Court of Appeal and by the Washington State Supreme Court which ruled that a jury may consider the cost to replace a unique structure when awarding compensatory damges for total destruction by fire.