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Karen K. Koehler

Karen K. Koehler
If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. Proverbs 24:10

Nicknamed “The Velvet Hammer™” by some of her adversaries, Karen is known for her creativity, tenacity and trial skills. Few plaintiff attorneys try more cases than Karen. Success in the courtroom means that Karen enjoys a strong reputation with insurance companies and corporate defendants who would rather opt to value cases properly for settlement instead of risk going to trial against her. She is listed as a Top 10 Super Lawyer in Washington State, only the second woman in the state recognized as such.

A mother of three daughters, she has a particular place in her heart for representing families who have lost loved ones due to intentional or negligent acts. Among those cases is Kime v. City of Seattle, a wrongful death settlement for Kristopher Kime’s family that found the city responsible for enhancing the danger of the 2001 Seattle Mardi Gras. She has been honored to represent many people and families who have needed help in holding others accountable for preventable harmful acts. And she has been privileged to see laws changed because of the stories of clients whom she has represented.

Karen is a prolific speaker and writer, an author of nationally published legal treatises and an adjunct professor at the University of Washington School of Law.

She has also gained national and local recognition from many, including the American Bar Association for maintaining a Top 100 “Blawg.” Since 2011, Karen’s blog has been listed as the top Trial Practice/Litigation Blawg by ABA. Check out a Super Lawyers interview of Karen about her Velvet Hammer™ blog. Like her work as a top personal injury attorney, her extraordinary blog has captured the attention of many. Read a recent profile on Karen featured in the local Bar Bulletin.

In addition to serving as President of the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association (2007-08), she has held leadership positions in the American Association of Justice. A member of the America Board of Trial Advocates, she is listed in The Best Lawyers in America, regularly listed as a Super Lawyer and a top 50 female personal injury lawyer by Washington Law & Politics Magazine.

Podcasts

Education

  • Seattle University, J.D., 1985
  • University of Washington, B.A., 1982

Outside the Office

Karen loves to snow ski and rollerblade, and she runs every day.

Awards & Achievements

  • Top Trial Practice Blawg, American Bar Association, 2011, 2012
  • Trial Lawyer of the Year, Washington State Trial Lawyers Association*, 2005
  • President’s Award, Washington State Trial Lawyers Association*, 2003
  • The Best Lawyers in America – 2006 – Present
  • Super Lawyer – Washington Law & Politics Magazine, present
  • Top 40 Personal Injury Super Lawyer – Washington Law & Politics Magazine, present
  • Top 50 Female Super Lawyer – Washington Law & Politics Magazine, present
  • Top 100 Super Lawyer – Washington Law & Politics Magazine, present
  • Top 500 Lawyers in America – Law Dragon Magazine, 2007
  • Rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell
  • American Board of Trial Advocates, 2006 – present

Memberships

Washington Association for Justice (formerly Washington State Trial Lawyers Association)

  • President 2007-2008
  • President Elect 2006-2007
  • Board of Governors 8th District Representative 1999-2000
  • Vice President Membership 2000-2001
  • Vice President Continuing Legal Education 2001-2002
  • Vice President Public Affairs 2002-2003
  • Vice President Development 2003-2004
  • 2nd Vice President Legislative 2004-2005
  • Vice President Legislative 2005-2006
  • Vice Chair Insurance Section 2000-2001
  • Chair Insurance Section 2001-2002
  • Chair Law School Advocacy Committee 1999-2006
  • Member Legislative Steering Committee 2000-present
  • Member Diversity Committee 2000-present
  • Member Technology Committee 2000-2002
  • Member Executive Committee 2002-present
  • Member CLE Committee 2001-2011

American Association of Justice

  • Chair Motor Vehicle, Highway, and Premises Section 2003-2004
  • Chair elect Motor Vehicle, Highway, and Premises Section 2002-2003
  • Vice-chair Motor Vehicle, Highway, and Premises Section 2001-2002
  • Washington State Delegate Minority Affairs 2001-present
  • Washington State Delegate 2008
  • Member Insurance, Motor Vehicle, Civil Rights Sections
  • Member Insurance Bad Faith Litigation Group
  • AAJ Board Member
  • Co-chair AAJ Spinal Cord Injury Litigation Group
  • Executive Committee member – AAJ Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group

Washington State Bar Association

  • Chair Executive Litigation Committee 2008-2009
  • Vice Chair Executive Litigation Committee 2007- 2008
  • Secretary/Treasurer Executive Litigation Committee 2005 – 2007
  • Member Executive Litigation Committee 2002-2005
  • Member Consumer Protection Committee 2001-present
  • Member Litigation Section
  • Scribes (society of legal writers), member
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (invitation only), member
  • Listed as one of the 2009 Best Lawyers in America

Speaking Engagements

See a current list of all of Karen’s speaking engagements

Teaching

  • Adjunct Professor trial advocacy University of Washington Law School 2005 – present

Published Articles

Presentations

  • Life Care Plans and Catastrophic Injury Cases, AAJ, New Orleans, March 2016
  • Direct Exam, Washington State Association for Justice, Seminar Web, Webinar, March 2016
  • Depositions, King County Bar Association, Seattle, Washington, March 2016
  • Do’s and Don’ts of Visual Presentation, July 2015, AAJ, Montreal
  • Making Your Case with Defense Experts, Washington State Association for Justice, December 2015
  • Novel Claims, Belli Seminar, Montreal, July 2015
  • Defense Medical Examinars, AAJ, Webinar, July 2015
  • Voir Dire in Auto Cases, AAJ, Montreal, July 2015
  • Common SCI defenses, AAJ Jazz fest, NOLA, May 2015
  • Using Metaphors Allegories and Similes in Closing, Orlando, February 2015
  • Big Picture, Little Details, Iowa Trial Lawyers, SEAK, Des Moines, Iowa, November 2014
  • Trial Technology, Washington State Bar Association, Seattle, July 2014
  • Using metaphors, allegories, and similes in closing, (hosted in Seattle), Nevada Trial Lawyers Association, Oct. 2013
  • Persuasive PPT at trial, Colorado Annual Convention, August 2013
  • Traumatic Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injuries, San Francisco, AAJ Annual Convention, July 2013
  • Persuasive PPT at Trial, San Francisco, AAJ Annual Convention, July 2013
  • Using metaphors, allegories, and similes in closing, Belli Seminar, San Francisco, July 2013
  • Big Picture Little Details Laramie, Wyoming, WYTLA convention, June 2013
  • Persuasive PPT at trial, Vancouver BC Trial Llawyers Association, Feb. 2013
  • Persuasive PPT at trial, Vermont Trial lawyers Association, Vermont Trial Lawyers Association, May 2012
  • Persuading jurors with morality based themes, North Dakota Trial Lawyers Association, May 2012
  • Proving invisible traumatic brain injuries, AAJ Midwinter convention, Phoenix Feb. 2012
  • Morality based closing arguments that persuade in trying times, Indiana Assn for justice, Nov. 2011
  • Opening statement Trial Advocacy program, WSBA, Oct 2011
  • Persuasive themes and techniques in brain injury trials, NABIS, New Orleans, Sept 2011
  • Persuading jurors with moral argument, Kentucky Assn for Justice, Sept 2011
  • And then the Jury Clapped…How to Present Extremely Demonstrative Evidence. Annual Beli seminar. NYC July 2011
  • Traumatic Brain Injury and Preexisting Conditions. AAJ Annual Convention. NYC July 2011
  • Valuation and Life Expectancy in Spinal Cord Injury Cases. AAJ Annual convention. NYC July 2011
  • Demonstration: Overcoming Defense Themes and Tactics in Opening. AAJ Annual convention. NYC July 2011
  • Understanding Diverse Cultures Perspective on Emotional Injury and Consortium Claims. WSAJ Annual Convention Whistler, BC July 2011
  • Persuasive brain injury trial techniques Utah Association for Justice 2011
  • Polarizing the brain injury case AAJ Brain Injury Seminar Atlanta 2011
  • “Opening Statement.” WSBA Trial Advocacy Program Seattle October 2010
  • “Morality based closing argument.’ Arizona Trial Lawyers Association. Phoenix October 2010
  • “Extremely demonstrative evidence.” WSAJ Paris seminar September 2010
  • “Demonstration of plaintiff closing argument in traumatic brain injury trial.” AAJ convention Vancouver July 2010
  • “Discovery in UIM insurance bad faith cases.” AAJ convention Vancouver July 2010
  • “Refocusing the jury in voir dire.” WSAJ Seattle June 2010
  • “Ethical dilemmas in traumatic brain injury cases.” AAJ Brain Injury seminar. Chicago May 2010
  • Closing argument.  Mega seminar  AAJ Las Vegas October 2009
  • Maximizing damages in inadequate security cases.  AAJ Convention San Francisco July 2009
  • Closing argument.  AAJ Convention San Francisco July 2009
  • How to try a case without a focus group.  Belli Seminar San Francisco July 2009
  • Objectifying the plaintiff’s case:  visual images that make a difference.  Idaho Convention May 2009
  • Keynote speaker: our inspirational clients.  Idaho Convention May 2009
  • Closing argument in a car crash case.  Seminar Chair.  WSAJ April 2009
  • “Objectifying the Plaintiff’s Case in Trial”, Iowa Trial Lawyers Convention. November 2008
  • “PowerPoint – Objectifying the Plaintiff’s Case”, national webinar. September 2008
  • “Voir Dire” – King County Bar Assn. August 2008
  • “Fighting Protective Orders in Insurance Bad Faith Cases”, AAJ convention Philadelphia July 2008
  • “Representing Minorities in the Court Room – Voir Dire”, AAJ convention Philadelphia July 2008
  • “Objectifying the Plaintiff’s Case”, Vancouver TLA May 2008
  • “Etrial 1.01” – cochair and presenter. WSTLA April 2008
  • “Art of Advocacy” – Idaho School of Law March 2008
  • “Plaintiff Direct Exam” – national webinar. October 2007
  • View Karen’s Deposition DVD, “Preparing For Depositions
  • “Crash”, WSTLA, September 2007.
  • “Overcoming defense insurance tactics – compelling discovery”, AAJ convention Chicago July 2007
  • “Witness Preparation – Lay and Experts”, AAJ convention February 2007
  • “Maximizing Powerpoint: objectifying the plaintiff’s case”, Trial Smith national webinar. January 2007
  • “Videotape deposition of the insurance adjuster”, WSTLA. January 2007
  • “Voir Dire”, WSBA new members, Lynnwood, September 2006
  • “Being the sole female partner in an all male firm”, WSTLA, Seattle September 2006
  • “Litigating major auto injury and death cases”, Idaho Trial Lawyers. October 2006.
  • “Battling the comparative fault defense, ATLA convention” Seattle. July 2006.
  • “How The Case of Ethel Adams Changes the Law.” Belli Seminar, Seattle. July 2006.
  • “The Elements of Litigation”, chair. WSBA, Seattle. June 2006.
  • “Voire Dire”, teleseminar. ATLA. May 2006
  • “Use of Electronic Media and Visual Aids at Oral Argument”, WSBA, Seattle. April 2006.
  • “New Important Laws – Ethel Adams”, WSTLA. April 2006.
  • “Battling the “Tencer” defense, Auto Cases Seminar”, WSTLA. March 2006
  • “Perpetuating the treating doctor by videotape.” ATLA convention Toronto. July 2005.
  • “Persuading a Hostile Jury.” Wyoming Trial Lawyers annual convention. June 2005.
  • “Summation.” Damages essentials seminar, co-chair and speaker. WSTLA, May 2005.
  • Ethical considerations in representing brain injured plaintiffs.  AAJ Brain Injury Seminar Chicago.  May 2005
  • “Creative pretrial strategic moves.” Auto cases seminar, WSTLA, March 2005
  • “What every plaintiff’s attorney needs to know – expert biomechanic”, ATLA midwinter convention. January 2005.
  • “Using Juror Attitudes to Your Advantage”, Litigating Auto Cases: Juries, Damages and Discovery Issues Teleseminar, ATLA November 2004
  • “Strategies for seeking damages in wrongful death and survival cases”, Tort Law Update seminar, WSTLA, November 2004
  • “Depositions & Testimony: surviving on the stand”, Mental Health Professionals People’s Law School, November 2004
  • “Opening Statement in an MTV generation”, Iowa annual convention, November 2004
  • “Opening Statement”, WSBA young lawyers advocacy program, October 2004
  • “Cross examination of an expert”, ATLA New Approaches to Damages – David Ball seminar, New Orleans October 2004
  • “Demonstrating State of the Art Automobile Accidents Trial Techniques”, co-chair and program advisor, ATLA annual convention, Boston July 2004
  • “Motor Vehicle Highway Design Premises Liability Section Program”, co-chair and program advisor, ATLA annual convention. Boston, July 2004
  • “COLOSSUS” and program advisor, ATLA annual auto cases seminar. New Orleans, May 2004
  • “Mock Trial with Technology”, Seattle University Law School, March 2004
  • “Past and Future Medical Expenses: Convincing the Jury of Probable Needs”, ATLA midwinter convention. Orlando, February 2004
  • “Arguing Liability”, WSTLA Trial Stars, December 2003
  • “Opening Statement”, WSBA young lawyers advocacy program, October 2003
  • “COLOSSUS”, Bay Area Trial Lawyers. San Jose, October 2003
  • “Voir Dire and Cross Exam of the Defense Medical Examiner”, Auto Cases at Dawn, WSTLA annual convention. Sun River, Ore., August 2003
  • “COLOSSUS”, ATLA annual convention. San Francisco, July 2003
  • “Alternative Theories in Insurance Bad Faith Cases”, ATLA annual convention. San Francisco, July 2003
  • “Powerpoint in Opening and Closing”, Melvin Belli seminar. San Francisco, July 2003
  • “COLOSSUS”, Wisconsin Trial Lawyers annual convention, July 2003
  • “COLOSSUS and How to Litigate MVC cases”, San Diego Trial Lawyers seminar, June 2003
  • “Litigating with Farmers: How to Hammer Farmers”, WSTLA seminar, March 2003
  • “COLOSSUS”, Colorado Trial Lawyers Blockbuster Seminar, February 2003
  • “Case of Kristopher Kime”, ATLA Litigation at Sunrise seminar. Mid-winter convention, February 2003
  • “COLOSSUS”, ICLE settlement and negotiation seminar. Atlanta, January 2003
  • “Preparing Cases to Win”, WSTLA trial stars seminar, December 2002
  • “The Rise of COLOSSUS”, Chair. WSTLA seminar, November 2002
  • “Does the medical examiner industry promote a mindset of cynicism, skepticism and suspicion against people injured in Automobile Accidentss, particularly those who suffered musculoligamentous injury to the neck and back?” Washington Association of
  • “Independent” Medical Examiners, November 2002
  • “The art of negotiation in the age of COLOSSUS”, ITLA Annual Convention, Iowa, November 2002
  • “Depositions and Testimony: Surviving on the Stand”, WSTLA Mental Health Professionals’ law school seminar, October 2002
  • “Finding Closet Skeletons”, WSTLA pre-existing conditions seminar, October 2002
  • “Opening Statement”, WSBA young lawyers advocacy program, October 2002
  • “The art of advocacy”, WSTLA convention, August 2002
  • “The art of negotiation in the age of COLOSSUS”, PATLA annual seminar Pennsylvania, May 2002
  • “Innovative Litigation Strategies”, ATLA auto cases seminar. New Orleans, May 2002
  • “Discovery in Insurance Bad Faith Cases”, co-chair, WSTLA insurance law seminar, January 2002
  • “Medical Vendors Birth of an Industry”, WSTLA, October 2001
  • “The art of negotiation in the age of COLOSSUS”, WSTLA annual convention, August 2001
  • “Demonstration of Insurance Bad Faith Trial, Participant”, ATLA annual convention. Montreal, Canada, July 2001
  • “Top Ten Insurance Litigation Abuses in Auto Cases”, ATLA annual convention. Montreal, Canada, July 2001
  • “Challenges for Cause: Removing contaminants from the jury panel”, WSTLA, June 2001
  • “Top Ten Insurance Litigation Abuses”, WSTLA, April 2001
  • “Why State Farm Paid $470,000 to Settle a Bad Faith Case in Washington”, WSTLA, March 2001
  • “How to Conduct Direct Exam at Trial”, ATLA Winter Convention. New Orleans, February 2001
  • “Claim Core Process Redesign at Allstate – Secret Unfair Strategies Revealed Part II: COLOSSUS Utilization”, WSTLA, January 2001
  • “How to Litigate with Allstate , It takes a different approach”, New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association. Albuquerque, NM, September 2000
  • “Organizing the Deposition”, ATLA Annual Convention. Chicago, August 2000
  • “PIP Abuse at State Farm: Victimizing Insureds to Maximize Profit”, ATLA Annual Convention. Chicago, August 2000
  • “Opening Statements in District Court Cases”, WSTLA annual convention, July 2000
  • “Litigating with Allstate, State Farm, and Others: It takes a different approach”, ATLA Auto Cases Seminar. New Orleans, May 2000
  • “What to Do if Your Client Declares Bankruptcy”, WSTLA, March 2000
  • “Litigating with Allstate , It takes a different approach”, Alaska TLA. Anchorage, Alaska, February 2000
  • “Dispositive Motions”, KCBA, February 2000
  • “Litigating with Allstate , It takes a different approach”, ITLA. Boise, Idaho, November 1999
  • “PI Cases We See the Most – Pre-Trial Motions”, WSTLA, October 1999
  • “Insurance Law Basics Negotiation Do’s and Don’ts”, WSTLA, September 1999
  • “Using Collateral Estoppel to Win on Liability”, WSTLA annual convention, July 1999
  • “Effective Settlement Demands in Automobile Cases”, WSTLA, April 1999
  • “Litigating with Allstate , It takes a different approach”, WSTLA, February 1999

Some of Karen's Cases

Otto v. The Boeing Company, Transdigm Group, Inc. and AmSafe, Inc.
Ken Otto was survived by his 16 year old son, Bostin Otto, after Ken sustained catastrophic injuries when working on a Boeing airplane.
Sitton v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.

(2003) Insureds of State Farm brought a class action against State Farm to recover for breach of contract and fiduciary duty, bad faith, violation of the Consumer Protection Act, and unjust enrichment by denying or limiting claims for personal injury protection (PIP) benefits after medical utilization review. The trial court certified the class and bifurcated trial. Discretionary review was granted by the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals held that: (1) the class action was properly certified on the ground that common questions of fact or law predominated, and a class action was superior; (2) the plan for bifurcated trial violated due process by allowing the jury to make a damages award without requiring individual claimants to establish causation and damages or providing the insurer the opportunity to show a reasonable justification for denying individual claims; and (3) bifurcated trial would not violate insurer’s right to a jury trial.

Maislen v. Associated Materials

(April 2010) $2.5 million jury verdict for 58-year-old man injured in a truck versus car crash.

Ip v. State of Washington and City of Renton

(July 2008) $1,000,000 settlement for the wrongful death of a 67 year old leaving a wife and two adult sons when he was hit in a dangerous pedestrian crossing.

Huang v. Lustyk

(December 2007) $2,900,000 settlement for injuries suffered when a vehicle ran into a motorcycle.