Memorial Day

To those in uniform serving and to those who have served in the past, we honor you today and every day.

Lether & Associates would like to wish everyone a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend.

As a reminder, the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion is June 6th.

Join Tom Lether at West Coast Casualty’s 26th Annual Construction Defect Seminar

Tom Lether will be presenting at West Coast Casualty’s 26th Annual Construction Defect Seminar at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.
Tom will be presenting on:
Friday May 10, 2019 from 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM — in the South Ballroom.
The subject of this presentation will be:
Construction and Insurance Trends in the Northwest.
He will focus on the current status of the construction market in the Northwest, the introduction of new insurers to that market, the relative role of defense counsel and coverage counsel, exposures for contractors and for insurers in the Northwest (including bad faith exposures), and finally a discussion on the impact of new coverage rulings on both contractors and insurers in those jurisdictions.

C.E. credits will be offered for a number of states. For a complete list, please visit
http://www.westcoastcasualty.com/seminar/continuing-education/

In addition, Tom will be available for personal meetings, coffee, lunch etc. If you are interested please feel free to reach out to him on his cell phone or through email. He can be reached at (206) 498-0693 or tlether@letherlaw.com
If you have any questions, please contact our office at (206) 467-5444.  Additional information can also be found on West Coast Casualty’s website
http://www.westcoastcasualty.com/seminar/ or contact Dave Stern at atdavestern@westcoastcasualty.com.
Let us know if you are attending and we hope to see you there!

Administrative Professionals’ Day

Yesterday our firm spoiled our amazing staff during Administrative Professionals Day. We celebrated the morning with lattes and breakfast treats, went out for lunch and enjoyed the beautiful day with a boat float on Lake Union. We then gave them the rest of the day to do more staff bonding!

Elizabeth, Lina and Adam are our wonderful Paralegals who assist all of our attorneys in their daily work.

Lindsay, our Office, Billing and HR Manager, is one of our longest employees. She keeps all of us in line.

Suzanne, Tom Lether’s Legal Assistant, helps him be the amazing lawyer his is.

Lyxi, who you talk to daily, is our front desk manager who watches over the entire office.

These members of our team are extremely vital in making sure our business runs smoothly. We appreciate each of them and all they do to help Lether & Associates succeed!

From,
The Lether & Associates Family

Spring and Geese

Spring has arrived here at Lether and Associates. Lately we have seen the signs of the new season. The sun is starting to show. The cherry blossoms are in bloom and Seattle is emerging from another winter.

For our firm, however, there is no better sign of Spring than the return of a pair of Canada geese, who, for another year are making use of our office to nest and nurture a set of eggs.

In what has now become a yearly tradition, the pair have made a temporary home in one of the planters located on our deck above Lake Union. From our offices we have watched the pair build their nest, lay their eggs, and stand guard. We are expecting another group of goslings to make an appearance in the next two to three weeks.  As in years past, we are looking forward to seeing them emerge and leave the nest.

Lether and Associates wishes you all a happy and bright Spring.  We hope you enjoy the sunshine that is to come.

Washington Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Case That Allowed Insureds to Name Adjusters as Defendants in Bad Faith Actions

On February 26, 2019, the Washington Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Keodalah v. Allstate Ins. Co. and Tracey Smith.  In this case, the Court of Appeals overturned the trial court’s dismissal of bad faith and Consumer Protection Act claims asserted directly against Tracey Smith, an adjuster for Allstate.

A link for the video recording of the oral argument is provided below:

https://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2019021551

A link for the briefing filed with the Supreme Court is provided below:

https://www.courts.wa.gov/appellate_trial_courts/coaBriefs/index.cfm?fa=coabriefs.briefsByCase&courtId=A08

The issue to be addressed by the Supreme Court is whether the Keodalahs may plead a claim for bad faith and Consumer Protection Act violations directly against the Allstate adjuster, Tracey Smith. Since the Court of Appeals’ decision in Keodalah was published in March 2018, it has become common for insureds to name both the insurance company and the adjuster in lawsuits alleging bad faith claims handling.  Over the last 11 months, the ability to name the insured in a bad faith lawsuit has given rise to a multitude of new issues that must be addressed in these suits. These issues include questions about insurance counsel representing the adjuster as well as the ability to avoid federal court diversity jurisdiction by naming a local adjuster as a defendant in a lawsuit.

At the oral argument hearing, Allstate and Ms. Smith asserted that the only potentially available claim against an adjuster would be based on the general good faith statute, RCW 48.01.030, and would require the Court to hold that this statute provided for an implied right of action under Washington’s test for implying such an action.  They explained that an adjuster cannot be subject to a common law bad faith claim because there was no quasi-fiduciary relationship between an adjuster and insured. They then established that the good faith statute does not imply a right of action against an adjuster under the test.

In response, the insureds asserted that their claim was actually based on common law bad faith and the good faith statute provided the duty which applies to the adjuster for this claim.  They then stated that recognizing a bad faith claim against an adjuster was necessary to prevent the insurance company from avoiding bad faith liability by asserting that its adjuster’s offending conduct was outside the scope of the adjuster’s authority and employment duties with the insurance company.

We expect the Supreme Court to publish its decision in this case within the next few months.  The Supreme Court’s decision and its reasoning for reaching that decision will very likely have a substantial impact on how bad faith lawsuits are litigated for years to come.

If you have any questions about how the Keodalah case impacts the bad faith litigation landscape, please give us a call.