Terry has participated in several high-profile cases and has won millions of dollars in settlements for clients he has represented. Click the links below or scroll down to read more about a few of these cases.
Slip and Fall
Terry handled the leading case in the country in 1975 on the issue of fault of the owner of a self-service premises when a customer slips and falls, Ciminski v. Finn Corporation, 13 Wn. App. 815, 537 P.2d 850 (1975).
An elderly lady fell at a self-service restaurant/buffet. At that time the law was very difficult for someone injured in a slip and fall situation. They had to prove that what they slipped on was caused by the owner or that what was on the floor was there so long, the owner, in exercising reasonable care, should have discovered and cleaned it up. That was a very difficult test for an injured person to overcome, especially when after the fall the wet material usually disappeared, the owners and employees of the premises would deny there was anything on the floor, and the injured person did not know what it was. It usually resulted in the case being dismissed. Terry’s Ciminski case advanced a new theory that when the owner of a self-service operation requires customers to serve themselves (to save the owner money!), like in a buffet food line, as a matter of law it is anticipated there will be spills. Thus the owners must enforce a strict schedule to inspect and look for spills and clean them up. The defendant owner in this case did not have such a policy. Ms. Ciminski recovered close to $100,000.00.
E. Coli: Food Contamination
Terry not only successfully represented a severely injured child as a result of the Jack In The Box E.coli contamination outbreak in Washington February, 1993, he actually directed and was a leader of 10 law firms that represented seriously injured children because of that food outbreak. Terry organized a seminar in Las Vegas, Nevada for these law firms, where the work was divided amongst the firms. He coordinated their discovery, the litigation, document production, etc. The project took several years, but resulted in many multi-million dollar settlements for the injured children. Terry’s client received a substantial settlement, the amount confidential at Jack In The Box’s request. Terry is very experienced in E. Coli and Salmonella contamination, and has processed similar cases since that 1993 outbreak.
Catastrophic Apartment Fire
In November 1997, there was a horrific fire in Bremerton to a 150 unit apartment complex called Kona Village. The fire itself was seen from 5 miles away in downtown Seattle. A helicopter circled, taking photographs. The story was on national television for days. Four persons perished in the fire. All tenants were displaced and almost 100 tenants lost everything when their apartment burned. Many tenants woke up suddenly and had to flee their apartment in their burning pajamas rather than perish from smoke or fire. Terry and co-counsel represented 80 of the tenants including 2 families who lost loved ones. The litigation took several years. There were several contested issues regarding cause and origin of the fire, spread of the fire, building code in effect and the fire code. There were issues of insurance coverage and regarding what damages a person could recover who was fleeing the apartment fire. In other words, what money could they win if they were not burned by the flames or damaged by the smoke, but they were fearful of that. Terry was able to recover almost 3 million dollars in compensation for his clients. It was the largest personal fire loss case in the State of Washington.
Cadet Wall Heaters
Terry represented the largest and leading personal injury case against Cadet Manufacturing and the landlords of an apartment fourplex. The Cadet heater allegedly failed and caused a couch to ignite that led to the death of 2 minor children who were residing in the upstairs bedrooms. Litigation took several years. There were several issues of cause and origin of the fire, spread, failure of the heater, failure of the thermostat, fault of the tenant, fault of the furniture material itself, etc. The protracted litigation included the bankruptcy of Cadet which delayed the litigation and made it more complex. That was followed by the failure and receivership of Cadet’s insurance company, Reliance, which also resulted in delay. Eventually a substantial settlement was reached prior to trial for the death of the 2-year-old child, the injury and emotional damages to the one-year-old child who fled and the loss of love and affection between the mother and her daughter. Damages were also recovered for the loss to the Estate of the daughter that would have passed to her heirs had she lived to a normal life expectancy. The amount of that settlement was also confidential at the defendants’ request.
Wrongful Denial of Insurance Coverage and Punitive Damages
Terry sued a California insurance company alleging it wrongfully refused to repair its insured’s truck, an 18-wheeler semi-tractor, after a one car accident. The insurance company, under its insured’s auto collision coverage, should have repaired it to the tune of $30,000.00. The insurance company exhibited bad faith, unfair dealings and fraud to its insured, Terry’s client, claiming that the truck was being used for “personal” reasons at the time, thus the “business” insurance policy would not repair the truck. The client went through severe emotional problems, once attempting suicide because his whole world came crashing down.
Terry requested that the trial judge apply California law in the case because California law would allow the Washington jury to punish the defendant’s California insurance company for their willful, outrageous, and fraudulent conduct to their insured living in Washington. The decision to wrongfully deny the insurance coverage came from the California corporate offices in Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive. After a one month trial, the jury returned a verdict of $30,000.00 for the truck repair, $15,000.00 for the general pain and suffering to Terry’s client, and exactly what Terry requested in closing argument, $650,000.00 as punishment (punitive damages) against the insurance company. Terry asked the jury to award his client what the net profit for that insurance company would have been for the one month the case was in trial in Tacoma.
Unfortunately the insurance company appealed. The Appellate court said the trial court should have applied Washington law, not California law. The Court thus took away the