Richard Lumley Partners with FVAP on Amicus Brief Protecting Sexual Assault Survivors

GTH attorney Richard Lumley collaborated with the Family Violence Appellate Project (FVAP) to submit an amicus brief in Desean v. Sanger, No. 101330-2, — P.3d —- (Wash. 2023). On October 5, 2023, survivors of sexual assault in Washington State prevailed in this case, receiving a strong published decision from the Washington State Supreme Court.

The issue before the Washington Supreme Court in Desean was whether respondents in Washington’s Sexual Assault Protection Order Act (SAPOA) proceedings would also be entitled to raise a criminal affirmative defense that they reasonably believed the petitioner had capacity to consent when incapacity is at issue. Washington’s SAPOA allows a victim of unwanted sexual contact to seek a civil protection order against the perpetrator. Under the SAPOA, a court enters a sexual assault protection order (SAPO) if it finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the petitioner has been a victim of nonconsensual sexual conduct or penetration by the respondent. Respondents are afforded an opportunity to testify and provide evidence in their defense during a SAPO proceeding.

The amicus brief submitted by Gordon Thomas Honeywell and FVAP highlighted that allowing respondents to raise such a defense in SAPO proceedings would not only contravene the Legislature’s intent but also result in harmful effects on survivors. The amicus brief presented social science research on the prevalence of sexual assaults versus those reported and the disparate impacts that sexual violence has on marginalized communities.

In a highly favorable decision for sexual assault survivors, the Supreme Court overruled the Court of Appeals and determined that a respondent is not entitled to present a criminal affirmative defense under the SAPOA. The Supreme Court reasoned that the SAPOA provides a civil remedy to survivors and functions independently from criminal proceedings and that the Legislature’s omission of affirmative defenses in the statute was intentional. The Court further held that a petitioner seeking a SAPO based on nonconsensual sexual penetration need not prove the respondent’s intent. In such cases, the relevant inquiry for the court is whether the petitioner had capacity to consent, and if the answer is no, the respondent is not entitled to raise an affirmative defense that they reasonably believed otherwise.

The importance of this case cannot be overstated. As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, SAPOs will continue to be available as intended to survivors, without the added burden of importing criminal standards in these special proceedings meant to protect survivors.

The following organizations joined in GTH and FVAP’s amicus brief: King County Sexual Assault Resource Center; National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence; Seattle University School of Law Family Law Center; and the Network for Victim Recovery of D.C. The full amicus brief is available here.

GTH Attorneys Recognized as Best Lawyers in America, Lawyer of the Year

This year, five GTH attorneys have been recognized by Best Lawyers in America for their excellence across practice areas offered by the firm.

Managing Partner Salvador Mungia has been awarded the Lawyer of the Year award for his civil rights practice in Tacoma, Washington. He has also been recognized by Best Lawyers for his appellate practice and work in commercial and personal injury litigation.

Best Lawyers also recognized GTH attorneys William Lynn, for his work in environmental, land use and zoning, and real estate law; Donald Cohen, for his work in environmental and municipal law; Brad Jones, for his work in environmental law; and Julie Dickens, for her work in trusts and estates.

Best Lawyers is based on peer review to reflect the consensus opinion of top attorneys within the same geographic and practice areas. “Lawyer of the Year” is awarded to individuals who receive the highest peer feedback for a specific practice area and geographic region. Only one attorney may be recognized in their practice area and geographical location for this award.

16 GTH Attorneys Recognized as 2023 Washington Super Lawyers

Thomson Reuters’ 2023 Super Lawyers has recognized sixteen Gordon Thomas Honeywell attorneys on its annual list. Super Lawyers selects the top 5% of attorneys on a state-by-state basis each year using peer nominations, evaluations, and independent research. This year, the recognized attorneys at GTH represent a range of practice areas offered by the firm, including business litigation, land use/zoning, employment litigation, utilities, environmental litigation, environmental law, estate planning and probate, mergers and acquisitions, personal injury medical malpractice, elder law, employment and labor, and insurance coverage.

Shelly M. Andrew, Business Litigation, Super Lawyer

Margaret Y. Archer, Land Use/Zoning, Super Lawyer

Stephanie Bloomfield, Employment Litigation, Super Lawyer, Top 50 2023 Women Washington Super Lawyers, and Top 100 2023 Washington Super Lawyers

Donald S. Cohen, Utilities, Super Lawyer

Dianne K. Conway, Environmental Litigation, Super Lawyer

Brad Jones, Environmental Law, Super Lawyer

Emma Luton, Estate Planning & Probate, Rising Star

William T. Lynn, Land Use/Zoning, Super Lawyer

Travis A. Mahugh, Mergers & Acquisitions, Rising Star

Andrea H. McNeely, Business Litigation, Super Lawyer

Salvador A. Mungia, Personal Injury Medical Malpractice, Super Lawyer

Amanda M. Nathan, Estate Planning & Probate, Rising Star

Eileen S. Peterson, Elder Law, Super Lawyer

Chelsea E. Rauch, Employment & Labor, Rising Star

Michael E. Ricketts, Insurance Coverage, Super Lawyer

Robert C. Wilke, Personal Injury Medical Malpractice, Rising Star

Meet Our Summer Associates: Nadine Khalidi

Nadine Khalidi (she/her) is a rising 3L at University of Washington School of Law and one of two 2023 summer associates at Gordon Thomas Honeywell, splitting her time between GTH’s Seattle and Tacoma offices. We caught up with her to ask about her experience with law school and summer at GTH thus far.

What helped you decide on a career in law?

The law permeates virtually every professional field that exists, and it takes many different shapes and forms. I find it fascinating and perpetually relevant. I’ve also always wanted to be a resource and advocate for others, and I enjoy research and writing.

Do you know which area(s) of law you would like to practice after graduation?

I’m enjoying learning about various practice groups at GTH. I’m hoping to practice Labor & Employment law after graduation, because it incorporates human interaction and wellbeing with business and contract elements.

What do you hope to learn during your summer with GTH as you go into your 3L year?

I’m hoping to learn more about alternative dispute resolution opportunities in different practice areas. I also hope to find practical applications for my writing skills in the Labor & Employment law group, both in research formats and in drafting handbooks and resources for clients. So far, I’ve been given many opportunities to participate in meaningful and rewarding projects.

Why GTH for your 2L summer?

During my interview process, I got the sense that GTH deeply cares about the success of its attorneys. Since I’ve started as a Summer Associate, it’s been confirmed that GTH fosters a hardworking and enjoyable work environment. Every person has been kind, welcoming, and always ready to give me opportunities to learn. The firm itself is well established and continues to strive for excellence in innovative ways.  

What do you like to do in your free time outside of school and work?

I like to read, bake, travel, and paddle board on the lake.

July 1 – WA Cares Mandatory Premium Collections

The WA Cares Fund is a mandatory long-term insurance benefit funded by employee premiums to purchase in-home and/or in-facility services and support. It is administered by the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) and the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). The WA Cares Fund was initially set to begin on January 1, 2022, but was delayed while the Washington legislature made changes and additions to the law.

Beginning July 1, 2023, WA Cares premium collections come into effect. Employers in Washington will be required to collect WA Cares Fund premiums from all employees via mandatory payroll deduction, report employee wages and hours, and pay a quarterly premium. The premium rate for 2023 is 0.58% of each employee’s gross wages, and must be collected from employees whose work is localized in Washington. WA Cares uses the same localization definition as Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (WPFML) program, so employees who are included under WPFML will also participate in WA Cares unless they have an exemption. 

WA Cares benefits will first be payable on July 1, 2026, and will be available to Washington residents who either (1) paid the tax for 5 consecutive years within a 10-year time period or (2) paid the tax for three out of the prior six years before applying for benefits. If eligible and if DSHS determines that an individual requires assistance with at least three activities of daily living, WA Cares provides benefits of up to $100 per day, up to a maximum lifetime limit of $36,500.

Almost all Washington workers will contribute to the WA Cares Fund, but there are some exceptions. Federal employees working in Washington do not contribute to the program, employees of tribal businesses only contribute if the tribe has opted in, and individuals who are self-employed can choose to opt-in. WA Cares is also delayed for employees who are parties to collective bargaining agreements in existence on October 19, 2017, unless and until the existing agreement is reopened or renegotiated by the parties or expires. These collectively bargained employees may, however, voluntarily opt-in to the program before their collective bargaining agreement is reopened, renegotiated, or expired.

Additionally, employees who would otherwise be required to contribute to WA Cares may be eligible for a permanent or conditional exemption. It is the employee’s responsibility to seek an exemption and present an approval letter from the ESD to their employer.  There are various grounds for employee exemptions; please contact a GTH employment attorney if you need more information regarding exemption eligibility.

Employees who had private long-term care insurance on or before November 1, 2021 were able to apply for an exemption from the WA Cares Fund from October 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022. This opt-out provision is no longer available. However, employees who were previously granted this exemption prior to the December 31, 2022 deadline will continue to be exempt.

If you have questions about your WA Cares Fund responsibilities as an employer, employee exemptions, whether an employee is subject to premium collection, or how to communicate these changes to employees, please contact a member of the Firm’s employment law group:  Valarie Zeeck, Shelly Andrew, Amanda O’Halloran, Chelsea Rauch, or Kirsten Parris.

Recognizing the Beginning of Pride Month

June is nationally recognized as Pride Month, a celebration of and dedication to the necessary and ongoing work to achieve equal justice, rights, and opportunity for the LGBTQIA+ community. In Washington, Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Asexual, Aromantic, Queer, Two-Spirit, Non-Binary, and Intersex Pride Month, encouraging Washingtonians from across the state to root out discrimination and promote equal protection under the law.

This recognition and support is as important as it has ever been, particularly in light of the record-breaking number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced by state legislatures across the United States this year.

June is a celebratory month, but advocacy and allyship efforts are essential year-round to promote diversity, inclusion, and support of the LGBTQIA+ community. In Pierce County, there are a number of organizations to volunteer with and donate to in furtherance of equal rights and opportunities for the LGBTQIA+ community, including:

Rainbow Center expands resources and safe spaces for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, two-spirit, and allied (LGBTQ2SA) community in the South Puget Sound. The organization also works to advance civil rights, expand inclusive and affirming policies and legislation, and end discrimination.

Oasis Youth Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a safe place for LGBTQ and questioning youth in Pierce County to learn, connect, and thrive.

PFLAG Tacoma is the local chapter of PFLAG, a national organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for the LGBTQ community and their families.

GTH Runs for Equal Justice

GTH attorneys Stephanie Bloomfield, Andrea McNeely, Julie Dickens, and Patty O’Brien Pearson completed the Run for Equal Justice this weekend! The relay benefits the Washington State Campaign for Equal Justice and supports civil legal aid in Pierce County. GTH currently leads the pack in funds raised, but donations are still open!