Ray Kahler has been with SKW since 1996. Ray has represented clients in a wide variety of personal injury and insurance claims, including product liability, toxic exposure, highway safety, medical malpractice, premises liability, workplace injuries, over-service of alcohol, consumer class actions, and motor vehicle collisions.
In 2014, Ray tried a case, Lee v. Willis Enterprises and Fletcher, on behalf of a man who suffered severe tinnitus and hyperacusis as a result of an electrical explosion. Lee garnered attention from the press, when a jury awarded Verl and Marsha Lee a $3.8 million verdict. Other cases Ray has handled include a product liability case against the manufacturer of a machine that made glass bottles, a $1,500,000 wrongful death settlement on behalf of the family of a firefighter who died during a surf rescue training exercise, and a $2,900,000 settlement for a man who suffered a moderate traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle crash.
Ray also has extensive experience handling appeals. He has handled appeals in the Washington Court of Appeals, Washington Supreme Court, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Some of the appeals he has handled include Munich v. Skagit 911, 175 Wn.2d 871 (2012), Unruh v. Cacchiotti, 172 Wn.2d 98 (2011), and McCallum v. Allstate, 149 Wn. App. 412 (2009).
Ray has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” since 2011 and received the Hoquiam Business Association’s Next Generation award (2011). He has presented at numerous legal education seminars and has written several articles and chapters in legal publications.
Ray graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1996, where he was a member of the Law Review. He received his undergraduate degree magna cum laude from the University of Puget Sound.
The most rewarding aspect of his work is building relationships with clients.
In his spare time, Ray has been the president of the 7th Street Theatre Association, which owns and operates a historic theater in Hoquiam, since 2004. He was also president of the Evergreen Counseling Center board of directors and was on the Grays Harbor Economic Development Council board.
- Harvard Law School, J.D., magna cum laude, 1996 (Harvard Law Review)
- University of Puget Sound, B.A., magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1993
Outside the Office
In his spare time, Ray plays the clarinet. He also serves on the board of directors for the local 7th Street Theatre and was president of the board of directors of Evergreen Counseling Center.
- Grays Harbor County Bar Association (president, 1999-2001)
- Grays Harbor Roundtable,Washington State Trial Lawyers Association(chair,1997-2002) Washington State Bar Association Washington State Trial Lawyers Association Trial Lawyers for Public Justice
- Product Liability CLE, Strategies for attacking common defenses made by product manufacturers, December 2011
- ERISA 2009, WSAJ Insurance Law Seminar, 2009
- Go Beyond — “Know Your Deponent,” NBI Depositions seminar, 2008
- Why PIP and Medical Liens Should Not Be Disclosed to the Defense, WSAJ Obtaining Fair Settlements seminar, 2008
- Forming the Damages Case — Identification: Determining the Extent of Loss, WSAJ Damages Essentials seminar, 2005
- Enforcing the Limits of CR 35: Preventing “Examinations” by Defense Vocational Experts, WSAJ Defense Medical Exam seminar, 2005
- Overview of Washington’s Wrongful Death and Survival Statutes, WSAJ Wrongful Death seminar, 2005
- “Enforcing the Limits of CR 35”, WSTLA Brain Injury seminar, May 2003
- “Tort Liability Arising Out of Mold Exposure” Buildex Conference, Sept. 2000
Some of Ray's Cases
- Wuthrich v. King County
The 2016 Wuthrich v. King County decision makes roadways in our state safer for everyone. In a unanimous decision handed down on Wuthrich, the Washington State Supreme Court held that a municipality has a duty to take reasonable steps to address overgrown roadside vegetation that makes the roadway unsafe for drivers approaching an intersection.
Wuthrich advances roadway safety for anyone who travels the roads in Washington State. As our state’s highest court maintains: A municipality has the overarching duty to provide reasonably safe roads and must be held to the same standards as that applied to private parties.
Our state’s supreme court now explicitly rejects old law that held that a municipality’s duty is limited to mere compliance with applicable law. Moreover, an “inherently dangerous condition” does not exclusively depend on a condition that “exists in the roadway itself.” A hazard may exist as a situation along a highway, such as overgrown bushes that obstruct drivers’ view of oncoming traffic.
The Wuthrich decision stems from a June 2011 lawsuit that Guy Wuthrich filed against Christa Gilland and King County. Guy was riding a motorcycle on Avondale Road NE in King County, approaching an intersection with NE 159th Street on June 20, 2008 at about 5:15 PM. Drivers on 159th St. have a stop sign at the intersection, but drivers on Avondale Road do not. Christa Gilland was driver a car on 159th Street. When she reached the intersection with Avondale Rd., she stopped to wait for passing traffic. She did not see Guy approaching from her left. She turned left onto Avondale Road and collided into Guy’s motorcycle, resulting in serious injuries to Guy. The lawsuit alleged that the County was liable for Guy’s injuries because the wall of overgrown blackberry bushes on County property obstructed Ms. Gilland’s view of traffic at the intersection. The trial court dismissed the action against the County on summary judgment. The Court of Appeals affirmed in a split decision.
Ray Kahler argued before the Supreme Court and you may watch his oral argument here.
- Kirkland v. Emhart Glass, S.A.
Michael Kirkland, a resident of Vancouver, Washington, worked at a glass bottle manufacturer, Cameron Glass in Kalama. He was experienced in the glass industry, having worked for about 30 years at two other glass container manufacturing plants.
On November 26, 2008, Mike slipped and accidentally fell onto the conveyor. He landed on a red hot bottle, which caught his clothes on fire and lodged into his rectum. Despite his decades of experience, safety gear and precautions, he sustained profound, permanent injuries. The manufacturer should have provided a reasonably safe platform for workers to stand. Moreover, the manufacturer should have provided a guard or shield over the conveyor to protect workers from suffering burns when standing near/over the conveyor.
Emhart Glass violated its duty under RCW 7.723.939 to design a reasonably safe machine and to provide adequate instructions.
He worked at Ball Foster/Kerr Glass in Illinois for almost 20 years. He then worked at Rocky Mountain Bottle in Colorado, after the Kerr Glass plant closed.
In addition to a $2,400,000 recovery, the manufacturer was required to make the required changes to its equipment to provide a reasonably safe machine to operate.
- Lee v. Willis Enterprises, 194 Wn.App. 394 (2016)
The Court of Appeals affirmed a summary judgment ruling finding the defendant negligent for sticking a screwdriver into an energized high voltage electrical device. Rejecting the defense argument that the foreseeability of an arc blast and injury to a bystander were questions of fact for the jury, the court held that “it is foreseeable as a matter of law that serious injury could result from careless behavior while working in and around energized high-voltage electrical equipment.”
The Court also rejected the defendant’s claim that he reasonably relied upon the plaintiff’s alleged silence as an implied assurance that it was safe to stick the screwdriver into the energized drive. The Court found that there was no authority holding that silence and inaction can give rise to an implied assurance of safety, and that an implied assurance of safety would not absolve a defendant’s own negligence.
- Moothart v. State of Washington
A Thurston County jury awarded a Vancouver man almost $3 million for multiple injuries caused by a pavement edge drop-off on a highway on-ramp.
Todd Moothart, a 50-year-old software development engineer, was on a motorcycle ride with two friends on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in September 2013. Their plan was to head east on State Route 14 to a viewpoint overlooking the Klickitat River. When Moothart and another rider got separated from the third motorcyclist by a traffic light, Moothart decided to pull off onto the shoulder of an on-ramp for SR 14 to stop and wait for the third motorcyclist to catch up. It is safer for motorcyclists to ride together as a group because they have a more visible presence on the road.
When Moothart pulled off onto the shoulder, he encountered a seven inch deep pavement edge drop-off at the fog line. A seven inch deep piece of pavement jutted out from the edge of the pavement just beyond the drop-off. When Moothart’s Harley Davidson motorcycle hit the face of the broken pavement, his front and rear wheels were severely dented, and he was launched into the air like he was on a trampoline.
Safety standards in the transportation engineering field recommend that pavement edge drop-offs be kept to a depth of no greater than two inches. The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) striping truck had came upon the pavement edge pothole and had painted the white fog stripe around it. In other words, WSDOT clearly acknowledging the hazard but did not report or repair it.
Moothart and his passenger were both ejected from the motorcycle. Moothart suffered multiple injuries, including a kidney laceration, numerous broken ribs, collapsed lungs, pulmonary contusions, a concussion, broken bones in both forearms, amputation of the top joint of his right index finger, and fractures to bones in his right pelvic ring. He was placed on a mechanical ventilator for eight days and required several surgeries.
Moothart spent 21 days in the hospital, followed by 55 days in a nursing home. He was then cared for by his mother and sister in Iowa for two months before he returned to Vancouver and resumed working part time.
The design plans for the on-ramp called for an eight foot paved shoulder on the right hand side. At the location where Moothart pulled off, there was no paved shoulder at all beyond the fog line. For unknown reasons, the State’s as-built plans for the on-ramp showed an eight foot paved shoulder, but the evidence indicated that the on-ramp never had an eight-foot paved shoulder in the area where Moothart pulled off. The on-ramp was built in the mid 90’s.
The Honorable Mary Sue Wilson granted judgment as a matter of law on the State’s negligence based on the State’s failure to provide an eight foot paved shoulder as required by the design plans. The jury also found that the State failed to maintain the on-ramp in a reasonably safe condition for ordinary travel.
Moothart has chronic pain due to myofascial injuries and nerve damage but is able to work full time. He has ongoing disabilities related to the loss of the top joint of his right index finger, myofascial damage in his forearms, and chronic pain. He no longer rides motorcycles because the crash took the enjoyment out of riding for him. He had been a motorcycle enthusiast for over 30 years.
The jury awarded $2,993,000, which included approximately $500,000 in undisputed past medical bills and wage loss. While the jury found negligence on the part of Moothart, it did not find proximate cause with regard to Moothart’s negligence.
The jurors’ post-trial message to WSDOT was that it needed to develop a clear policy for identifying, reporting and promptly repairing pavement edge drop-offs so that others will not have to suffer serious injuries the way Mr. Moothart did.
- Leroy v. State
(2004) The estate of a driver who died in a collision on an icy bridge sued the State, alleging negligence in failing to de-ice a highway bridge. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the State. The Court of Appeals agreed that the State had no duty to de-ice the bridge and that the evidence failed to show that the State had notice of, and time to correct, ice on the bridge.