Brad Moore

Seward vs. State of WA

Seward vs. State of WA

On October 12, 2013, Ms. Seward was a passenger in a vehicle that over corrected and struck an overpass pillar. She played no role in causing the incident. The vehicle should have encountered a barrier that would have redirected it.  Instead, it hit a mound of dirt, called an earth berm, that WSDOT installed years before. 

Wuthrich vs. King County, Gilland

$1,200,000 settlement against county for unsafe road. 

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.

Stritmatter attorney argued before the Supreme Court and you may watch the oral argument here.

Remme vs. State of Washington and City of Seattle

Remme vs. State of Washington and City of Seattle

$4,000,000 settlement for Plaintiff on a bicycle who encountered a 2-inch vertical change between concrete sidewalk panels on the Montlake Bridge sidewalk. Defendants each blamed the other (State bridge; City sidewalk).  Plaintiff suffered incomplete quadriplegia. 


After years of work and dedication, SKW’s team of bicycle accident attorneys secured a significant settlement for Lan Remme. Lan brought suit against the City of Seattle and the State of Washington for their failure to maintain the Montlake Bridge sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition. One sidewalk panel had been allowed to sink two inches.

In April 2010, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) had photo-documented the 2 inch vertical change in the concrete sidewalk panels and called it a Priority One “tripping hazard”. Although a repair number was assigned to this problem, nothing was done. One year later, on April 2, 2011, Lan Remme rode his bicycle onto the Montlake Bridge sidewalk, traveling at about 5 mph. An eyewitness observed Lan’s front bike wheel stop abruptly as it got caught in the two (2) inch “tripping hazard,” causing Lan to pitch forward over the handlebars. Lan’s helmeted head struck the sidewalk and he laid there motionless. See below illustrations.

The City of Seattle and the State of Washington settled several weeks before the trial. The City agreed to pay $2.5 million and the State agreed to pay $1.5 million.

This extreme tragedy for Lan, his wife Laura and the rest of his family was preventable.  His case underscores the importance of our City and State exercising diligence to ensure that the routes they invite cyclists to use are reasonably safe for bicycle travel.

The forward momentum stopped when Lan’s bike wheel got caught in the sidewalk hazard, sending him over his handlebars and slamming him head first onto the cement

The forward momentum stopped when Lan’s bike wheel got caught in the sidewalk hazard, sending him over his handlebars and slamming him head first onto the cement

Van Lear vs. State of Washington, et al.

November 2013

$3,750,000 settlement where defendant driver pulled onto a busy intersection on SR 2 and struck Plaintiffs who were on a motorcycle.  The SR 2-Flint Road intersection was unsafe because of the failure to provide a traffic light or otherwise reduce chaos at intersection. Both Plaintiffs suffered internal injuries and multiple fractures. 


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Keith and Lisa Van Lear were severely and permanently injured at the intersection of State Route 2 and Flint Road near the Spokane Airport, the site of several crashes over the years.

The State’s overarching duty is to provide the travelling public with a reasonably safe road.  The State of Washington also has a duty to exercise care to correct a dangerous intersection. After years of complaints from nearby businesses, including Boeing, WSDOT chose to do nothing.
Over the course of the past 20 years traffic volumes have risen and collisions have continued; but nothing has changed.  Boeing had been so concerned about its employees’ safety here that it offered to pay for a traffic signal itself.

Ms. L had seen no other eastbound traffic on her left.  Intending to begin her left turn onto SR 2, she looked left, then right, then left again. A large truck in the outside lane with its right-turn signal activated began to slow down to turn onto Flint Road. She saw no other traffic approaching from her left, and began entering the intersection, looking now to her right at the westbound traffic that she was going to merge into.

At the collision site, the Van Lears’ motorcycle and the Jeep in the background.

At the collision site, the Van Lears’ motorcycle and the Jeep in the background.

Keith Van Lear hit his motorcycle’s brakes hard upon first seeing Ms. L’s Jeep Cherokee.  He left a skid mark, re-righted his bike and then braked hard again.  Despite his efforts, the front wheel of the motorcycle struck the left front wheel of the Jeep Cherokee.

Keith hit the windshield A-pillar on the driver’s side with tremendous force.  He was thrown to the pavement like a rag doll.  Lisa was catapulted through the air and onto the asphalt road surface, where the Jeep Cherokee then ran over her.  Eyewitnesses stared in horror as Lisa, trapped underneath the Jeep, was dragged across the highway.

Although a traffic signal would have provided protected movement for the Jeep, enabling Ms. L to turn left on a green light without fear of being struck by through traffic on SR 2, an inexpensive alternative to a traffic signal here was a right-turn deceleration lane, funneling eastbound traffic off to the right as a prelude to the right turn onto Flint Road, and opening up Ms. L’s view of traffic approaching on her left in the two through lanes.

The right-turn deceleration lane – a matter of compacted soil and asphalt – not only met WSDOT Design Manual standards, but WSDOT itself had mandated the installation of the right-turn deceleration lane here as part of the Intersection Plan it formally approved for this very location in 2002.

At the collision site, the Van Lears’ motorcycle and the Jeep in the background.

With the right-turn deceleration lane in place, Ms. L would have seen the approaching Van Lear motorcycle and waits as it passes until it clears the intersection. See below illustration of the deceleration lane that could have prevented the horrific collision and the Van Lears’ profound injuries.

KEITH’S AND LISA’S INJURIES

Keith and Lisa sustained horrific, life-threatening injuries in the July 23, 2008 crash.  Keith sustained multiple severe orthopedic and internal injuries and complications from those injuries, including a closed head injury, a severe fracture of the right arm and wrist requiring open reduction and internal fixation, a severe liver laceration, a hemothorax, a damaged spleen necessitating a splenectomy, several fractured ribs, a left middle finger dislocation, and acute kidney failure requiring dialysis to remove massive fluid buildup.  As a result of the damage to his lungs, Keith developed traumatically-induced asthma.   He now becomes easily fatigued just walking up a short flight of stairs.

Keith remained in ICU for over four weeks after which he transferred to a full-time rehabilitation hospital in Idaho. While in ICU, he nearly died on a couple of occasions, and his doctors summoned his family and friends to say their goodbyes.   Keith remained on a full-time ventilator for two months.  He spent weeks in intensive rehabilitation in Idaho and then later at St. Luke’s in Spokane.  He remained wholly disabled and unable to work for more than six months.

Lisa Van Lear sustained a traumatic brain injury and multiple broken bones in the crash. Diagnostic imaging ordered at Sacred Heart Medical Center revealed blood in Lisa’s urine, a hemothorax, a fractured right clavicle, a fractured sternum, 10 separate rib fractures, multiple pelvic fractures, a fractured right sacrum, a fractured right acetabulum, fractures to the right L4 and L5 transverse processes, a left leg (fibular) fracture, a comminuted left foot fracture (i.e., medial navicula), an avulsion fracture of the cuboid (i.e., another foot bone) and a left wrist fracture. Lisa underwent multiple surgeries to stabilize her broken bones.

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Holden vs. Farmers Ins Co. of WA

January 2012

Consumer class action settled on behalf of over 7,000 insureds who were improperly denied applicable Washington State sales tax on personal property losses. The case settled following the Washington State Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision upholding the trial court’s ruling in favor of the plaintiff/insured. The settlement called for Farmers to pay sales tax plus 12% interest per annum to every insured who submits a valid claim form, plus $500,000 in attorney fees and costs.

Confidential vs. National Grocery Company

August 2011

Confidential Settlement

A confidential wrongful death settlement of a 45-year-old man leaving a wife and two children, one of whom was a minor. Plaintiff was struck by a yard truck at night at a distribution yard that had poor lighting and no designated path for pedestrians to cross from the parking area to the office.  The truck driver died several days later from his injuries.