Wrongful death

Charleena Lyles’ estate files claim against City of Seattle

Today, the parents of Charleena Lyles got a chance to tell their story following the fatal shooting of their daughter at the feet of Seattle Police. Read more about the case here. This is the first step on their long path to find justice. Although, nothing can bring their daughter back.

While our firm has had many press conferences, this one is different: Charles Lyles, father of now deceased Charleena Lyles, shares his story. Attorney Karen Koehler (standing to the left) is about to distribute packets to reporters in attendance.

Murder/wrongful death in Belize with ties to Washington State

Two SKW clients’ tangled story about the wrongful death and murder of their father seem made for a TV movie. KING5 TV draws out the details in a recent segment. Learn more about Plaintiffs Jennifer Ralston and Caleb McMamara here. You’ll want to play the story several times to make sure you catch the twists and turns of this sad and bizarre tale of how Jennifer and Caleb lost their father. Check back often for updates.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit against Boeing Over Faulty Airbags

KING5 News reported on SKW’s lawsuit just filed against Boeing for the wrongful death of Ken Otto and for a flawed airbag system. The story provided high level details about how father, wife, and brother, Ken Otto, was robbed of his life when he chose to work on the seat belt airbag systems on a set of Boeing plans.

Ken Otto

While working with an assistant in tight quarters on a plane, the airbag deployed without warning and tore off half of Ken Otto’s face. Within several weeks, he died, leaving behind a tortured and grief stricken family.

The family will have to deal with this enormous void in their lives as well as the knowledge that Ken suffered excruciating pain and suffering after a preventable incident inside a Boeing 777.

Could the FDA have done more?


Ms. Bigler lost her husband and only learned about the superbug outbreak at Virginia Mason from the news. (Photo:  Steve Ringman/Seattle Times)

Ms. Bigler lost her husband and only learned about the superbug outbreak at Virginia Mason from the news. (Photo: Steve Ringman/Seattle Times)


As potential clients continue to call our firm, more details about what the FDA knew and didn’t do with its knowledge continue to surface. When I first learned about the “dirty duodenescope” problem at Seattle’s Virginia Mason, I wondered how much information that the FDA had regarding these duodenescopes used for endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedures. Then, when the latest news broke about the UCLA Medical Facility’s similar issues with improperly cleaned duodenescopes, I realized that this issue extends well beyond just a couple of medical facilities. The problem relates to the fact that these thin, flexible scopes are extraordinarily difficult to clean. Even UCLA’s latest announcement of using a toxic gas to clean these duodenescopes are doubtful per the FDA. This begs the question, then, why hasn’t the FDA done more to ensure that devices are not used until a more practicable ways to clean the device are identified?

Now, remember when Obama signed an Executive Order last fall to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria? I do. So do some federal lawmakers, who are now asking Congress to investigate what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and device makers are doing to prevent further patient deaths and infections. Earlier this week, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) sent a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, pointing out that outbreaks related to contaminated medical scopes “have national security ramifications.”

In an LA Times interview, Rep. Lieu reminded us of Obama’ executive order, issued this past September that made it a national security priority to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as CRE (which stands for Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae). The California congressman pointed out that an FDA safety alert issued last week post the UCLA incident does not give the public assurance that further outbreaks can be prevented, “While federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are combating superbugs, the current recommended sterilization procedures would continue to result in superbug outbreaks and deaths.”

The FDA acknowledged that cleaning the ERCP duodenoscopes to the manufacturers’ specifications may not remove all of the deadly bacteria that can be passed from patient to patient.

In the meantime, family members of Virginia Mason patients who now know about the link between these ERCP procedures and the recent superbug outbreak are asking important questions. For example, the Biglers’ heartbreaking story came out last week in the Seattle Times. Mr. Rick Bigler, a 57 years old insurance exec, was suffering from pancreatic cancer. Only after his wife, Theresa, requested his medical records, did she find out that he had suffered from an E.coli infection. As the Seattle Times article points out, ERCP procedures are linked to these types of infections. What is alarming is that the Seattle outbreak is the largest of its kind in the U.S.  But, unlike the UCLA Medical Facility, which was also recently reported to have similar issues with the superbug-dirty-duodenescope issue, Virginia Mason did not reach out to its patients. While UCLA had informed 180 individuals about the possible contamination, the Seattle medical facility insisted that its situation was somehow different because the outbreak apparently spanned over a larger period of time.

Understandably, family members of Virginia Mason patients who likely contracted the superbug, have many questions that they want answers to: Some of them have contacted our law firm, given SKW’s track record as renowned attorneys in the areas of products liability and medical negligence. If you have questions, we are interested in comparing your stories with the ones that we’ve already learned about. Email us at Counsel@Stritmatter.com or call us at 206.448.1777.

If it is easier, simply complete the following form: 

Seattle supposedly ranks #1 for pedestrian safety. Really?

Insurance company's study cites Seattle as safest for pedestrians.

Insurance company’s study cites Seattle as safest for pedestrians. (Credit: Mike Siegel/Seattle Times)

According to a Liberty Mutual study, Seattle is at the top of the list for the safest city in the country for pedestrians. Thanks to additional infrastructures like the wonderful new pedestrian walkway about a block from SKW’s building, residents are safer. The study cited Boston as the second safest among 25 cities studied. D.C. followed as #3 safest with Detroit at the very bottom as the most dangerous. Note that the study is based on “city statistics and residents’ and commuters’ perceptions of safety” between 2005 – 2010. People! This suggests that the “data” used is dated and doubtful. Regardless, here’s the insurer’s list:

Top 15 Safest U.S. Cities for Pedestrians
  1. Seattle, Wash.
  2. Boston, Mass.
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. San Francisco, Calif.
  5. New York, N.Y.
  6. Portland, Ore.
  7. Pittsburgh, Pa.
  8. Minneapolis, Minn.
  9. Chicago, Ill
  10. Atlanta, Ga
  11. Denver, Colo.
  12. Philadelphia, Pa.
  13. Baltimore, Md.
  14. Columbus, Ohio
  15. Los Angeles, Calif.

Yes, I admit that I read the study with a cynical eye. The age and skewed nature of the data yield misleading conclusions. Remember my recent rant about distracted pedestrians? A more credible study is the one cited in the Seattle Times, which noted that 1/3 of us are dangerous pedestrians because of high tech distractions such as smartphones, iPods, etc.

At Stritmatter Kessler Whelan, we represent an increasing number of seriously injured pedestrians or the family of those wrongfully killed when struck as a pedestrian. The higher instance of catastrophically injured pedestrians that are calling belies Liberty Mutual’s study, although of course our information is a tiny sample based on a wide array of factors (perhaps it helps that we’re located in Lower Queen Anne, near a burgeoning hub of pedestrian activity?).

Well, at least the insurance company lists these commonsense steps to stay safe when walking:


  • Avoid using your phone while walking. Keep texting, emailing or browsing the Internet to a minimum while walking, and always put down the phone when crossing the street. Avoid the use of headphones and loud music while walking and crossing the street to ensure you can hear motorists approaching.
  • Observe all pedestrian traffic safety rules. Never jaywalk; use sidewalks and designated crosswalks, and always wait for the walk sign before crossing at lights.
  • Look both ways! It’s the first rule children are taught, yet adults often forget it. Even when there is a walk signal or stop sign, look both ways and be aware when crossing the street.
  • Make yourself visible to motorists. Wear light colored clothing and outerwear with reflective patches so drivers can see you on the road. If your children walk to school, make sure their backpacks and shoes have reflective patches. If you must walk on a roadway, walk on the proper side of the street so you’re facing traffic.

Seattle’s 2nd Ave Death Trap – Bike Man Dan finds many risks for the uninitiated

As I’ve blogged about a number of times–even before the death of cyclist/attorney Sher Kung–many, including country’s bike expert/Rutgers professor John Pucher, have considered Seattle’s Second Avenue corridor a death trap for cyclists.

After claiming the life of Ms. Kung, the much anticipated changes materialized about a week sooner than planned. Eager to see how the corridor might have improved, we asked Bike Man Dan (a.k.a. SKW attorney Dan Laurence) decided to ride down that very stretch of rode with our new GoPro (something new to him). He was shocked to see the numerous problems with the new design and shared his thoughts and video footage with those of us at the firm. He braved it both ways on this two-way bike lane.

See for yourself: How much of an improvement from before this summer’s fatal accident is the new “protected” bike lane? Does it truly increased safety for cyclists, pedestrians or drivers? Or, is the inconsistent treatment throughout the entire corridor frustrating if not treacherous to all who dare to travel this way?

Watch the clip above and let us know what you think. Do you see the same risks? Or did you perhaps also catch ones that didn’t jump out at us?

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