Our state’s Wrongful Death bill was completely overhauled today in a landslide vote by the legislature.
After five international students were killed in the Ride the Ducks Aurora Bridge crash, the community was upset to learn that the claims of the students over the age of 18 who did not have dependents (children) was strictly limited because of an ancient law whose roots were traced to racist rationale. Washington was one of only three states to still have wrongful death laws like this on the books.
Just minutes after the first firefighter arrived, officials declared the crash an “MCI—Mass Casualty Incident.” An MCI is an event where first responders are forced to suspend normal operations, such as normal recordkeeping, because there are too many victims to treat. Patients need to be triaged—sorted based on the severity of their injuries.
The worst mass transit disaster in Seattle history was unlike anything before it. An amphibious vehicle full of tourists broke an axle and rammed into a motor coach full of sightseeing international students. Three and half years later, 40 of the victims of the crash represented by Stritmatter Firm trial counsel obtained a record-setting $123 million verdict. These are the stories of the unimaginable carnage and loss, and the civil justice system at work. For more on the Ride the Ducks case and trial, see our Ride the Ducks page.
Rarely, if ever, does the State admit that it was negligent in a dangerous highway design lawsuit. But in the case of then 15-year-old Skylar Seward who now suffers from quadriplegia, the State has done exactly that.
Parents who have raised children into adulthood know that little actually changes that one midnight when a child turns 18. At 11:59 p.m., a 17-year old lives at home with his parents, is wrapping up high school with some degree of senioritis, and probably attempting to decide what to do next. At 12 a.m., the 18-year old is doing the same thing. Yes they are suddenly eligible to buy a cigar or serve in the military, but the love relationship between a parent and their child does not change. With one awful exception.
In 2009, I was teaching Trial Advocacy at the University of Washington School of Law. In my small section was a tenacious student named Lisa Benedetti. She was impressive. I recommended to the Firm that she be brought on as a legal intern.
“Trial News,” the monthly publication by the Washington State Association for Justice, featured the Ride the Ducks case on its entire front page for March 2019. The publication ran the transcript from Karen Koehler’s closing argument in real, raw form. Paired with the “illustrative exhibits” from trial depicting the plaintiffs on each vehicle, Ms. Koehler’s closing emphasizes the preventability of this tragedy. She reimagines a world in which the defendants took any one of numerous opportunities to do right. Unfortunately, they did not.
We just completely redid our website with a goal of showing and telling you who we really are, not just as lawyers but as people too. Our accolades and results are still there. But we believe what sets us apart is our relationships and connections with clients and their families.
In 2014, Stanley and Joan Kinger were leaving their daughter’s house in Monroe, where they had just delivered lemon cookies and fresh-caught fish. On the way home, the Kingers’ vehicle was struck head-on by another driver on Highway 522, near Fales Road. The Kingers both died.