Joel Hazel, a partner at the law firm of Witherspoon Kelley in the firm's Coeur d'Alene, Idaho office is the recipient of the Idaho State Bar's Professionalism Award for 2015. The Professionalism Award represents an expression of respect and commendation from Mr. Hazel's peers and represents one of the highest honors any Idaho lawyer can receive in his or her career. Recipients must have a wide reputation for ability, diligence, courtesy and cooperation. They are lawyers who have demonstrated a devotion to public service, the improvement of the administration of justice, and a career-long practice of civility, integrity and dignity.
Mike Currin, Witherspoon Kelley's past President was recently named by Inland Business Catalyst magazine as one of the region's 50 most influential leaders for 2015. Mr. Currin is the only attorney on the Power 50 List, which is comprised of the most influential business professionals in the Inland Northwest. It features those leaders who work to create positive change in Spokane and the entire Inland Northwest. Mr. Currin has worked his entire career with people and ompanies in the Inland Northwest to create a vibrant business community and he continues to lead by example for his colleagues in the bar.
Eight attorneys from Witherspoon Kelley, P.S. have been selected to the 2015 Washington State Super Lawyers list. Brian Rekofke and Ryan Beaudoin were recognized in Medical Malpractice Litigation--Defense, and William M. Symmes was recognized in Employment Litigation-Defense and Business Litigation. Recognized as Rising Stars from the firm by Super Lawyers Magazine were: William O. Etter (Tax); Steven Dixson (Medical Malpractice--Defense); Robin Lynn Haynes (Business Litigation); Michael Kapaun (Banking); and Nathan Smith (Real Estate).
Super Lawyers, part of Thomson Reuters, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.
Three Witherspoon Kelley attorneys have been named "Super Lawyers" and six Witherspoon Kelley attorneys have been recognized as "Rising Stars" by Super Lawyers Magazine. These attorneys are recognized by their peers and industry group as leaders in their practice areas. No more than five percent of all attorneys can be recognized as "Super Lawyers" and only two and one-half percent of all attorneys either under the age of 40 or practicing 10 years of less are eligible to for Rising Stars status. The recognized attorneys are:
Ryan M. Beaudoin - Medical Malpractice Defense; Business Litigation
Brian T. Rekofke - Medical Malpractice Defense
William M. Symmes - Employment Litigation Defense; Business Litigation; Construction Litigation - Business
Steven J. Dixon - Medical Malpractice Defense; Business Litigation
William O. Etter - Tax Business; Estate Planning and Probate
Robin L. Haynes - Business Litigation; Employment Litigation Defense
Michael J. Kapaun - Banking; Business Litigation; Appellate
Nathan G. Smith - Real Estate - Business; Land Use/Zoning; Environmental
Washington State Bar Association Real Property, Probate and Trust Section Midyear Conference June 12-14 in Spokane
- Nathan G. Smith, Co-Chair
- Jody M. McCormick Conference Speaker: "Untangling the Web of Lien Priority Issues"
- Robin L. Haynes Conference Speaker: "Practice Safe Tech: Cloud Computing, Social Media and Ethics"
* * *
Washington State Bar Association Family Law Section Midyear Meeting, June 19 in Spokane
- Peter D. Svennungsen, Conference Speaker: "QDROs, Pensions, and Tax Issues"
Witherspoon • Kelley is pleased to congratulate the following firm members who have risen to leadership roles in a variety of significant organizations.
Jody M. McCormick:
-Chair, Real Property, Probate and Trust Section, Washington State Bar Association
Matthew W. Daley:
-President, Federal Bar Association of the Eastern District of Washington
Emily K. Arneson:
-Chair-elect, Washington Women Lawyers, Spokane Chapter
Joel P. Hazel:
-Attorney Member, Idaho Judicial Council
Todd J. Adolphson:
-President, Spokane Young Lawyers
William M. Symmes:
-Trustee, Spokane County Bar Association
-Executive Committee Member and Officer, Labor & Employment Law Section of Washington State Bar Association
-Eastern Washington Representative to Board of Directors, Washington Defense Trial Lawyers
Matthew A. Mensik:
Washington State Bar Association Young Lawyer Delegate to the American Bar Association
Given the ever-increasing volume and variety of data storage issues facing American companies, the appeal of Cloninger v. Chen, et al. carried high stakes and broad implications. Cloninger was a wrongful death/medical negligence case against an anesthesiologist and a local hospital. The corporate negligence allegations against the hospital included a spoliation of evidence for failure to retain data from a physiologic monitor. On appeal from a defense verdict, plaintiffs asked the court to eliminate intent as a necessary element in claims for spoliation. The plaintiffs were additionally advocating for a rule that would allow a spoliation claim based solely upon the belief that relevant data may have been lost.
On behalf of the hospital defendant, Witherspoon • Kelley successfully preserved the law intact. The Court of Appeals held that spoliation claims are available only where the claimant shows both: (i) that relevant data, in fact, existed and was lost; and (ii) that the data was lost due to intentional acts or knowing failure to act by the defendant.
Since its recognition in the 1980s, Washington's "loss of chance" cases have been used to lessen the required showing of "but for" causation in medical negligence cases. This issue was brought to a head in Rash v. Providence Health & Services, et al. Rash was a medical negligence/wrongful death case claiming that a failure by the hospital to provide a patient's routine medication following a knee arthroscopy resulted in death and a "loss of chance" of survival. The hospital successfully moved for dismissal of the loss of chance claim and plaintiffs appealed.
Plaintiffs argued on appeal that in loss of chance cases the burden should be reduced to a showing that the defendant's conduct was "a substantial factor" in bringing about the alleged harm. On behalf of Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Witherspoon • Kelley was successful in safeguarding the traditional legal principles – plaintiffs must still show that the defendant's conduct was, in fact, a cause of the alleged injury.
Witherspoon • Kelley is active in the Washington Defense Trial Lawyer's Amicus Committee and participated in the Amicus briefing for Gomez v. Sauerwein, 172 Wn. App. 370, 289 P.3d 755 (2012). In that case, the plaintiffs argued that the defendant physician failed to secure informed consent regarding a condition that the physician did not diagnose and had in fact affirmatively considered and rejected as implausible. As it turned out, the physician was incorrect and, though implausible, the condition was, in fact, the plaintiff's ailment. The plaintiff sued the physician alleging: (i) that the physician was negligent for not diagnosing the condition, and (ii) that the physician breached his informed consent obligations by not disclosing the undiagnosed condition.
The trial court dismissed the informed consent claim, holding that failure to diagnose claims are properly brought as negligence claims, not informed consent. The plaintiffs appealed. Amicus efforts were successful in convincing the Court of Appeals to maintain the traditional division between negligence and informed consent. Under the Court of Appeals' decision, a duty to disclose does not arise until a physician becomes aware of a condition's existence by diagnosing it.
A Smorgasbord of Dilemmas: Serving up solutions when accommodations collide.
Service dogs versus sensitive noses, sermonizers versus securlarists... With ever-expanding definitions of legally protected "disability" and religious "conscious" and an employer's obligation to reasonably accommodate these traits conflict between employees with "equal rights" will inevitably arise. Does one disability "trump" another? May (or must) an employer forbid an employee's "religious" discussion in the workplace? Explore these and other tricky scenarios through interesting real-life cases, learn the latest legal updates on disability and religious accommodation, and gain insights for effectively and legally managing your diverse workforce when accommodations and related employee rights collide.
On October 5th, 2015, attorneys Bill Symmes and Amy Mensik will be presenting at the 77th Annual NHRMA Conference & Tradeshow in Portland, Oregon.