A Sample Of Representative Cases
David C. Burkett represents parties ranging from individuals to medium size local businesses, in a wide variety of cases. The constant theme is the pursuit of cost effective dispute resolution, with an emphasis on settlement where possible and efficient arbitration and trial where settlement is not possible.
Attorney Fee Dispute Cases
Attorney Fees and Costs Disputed by Client. Represented a client disputing fees and costs charged by an attorney, who sued the client to collect. The case was settled with a reduction of $200,000+ in the bill from the attorney.
Attorneys Disputed Sharing of Contingency Fee. Represented an attorney who succeeded in recovering a very large sum for a client. An attorney who helped on the case wanted almost half of the earned fee. The case was settled with a $675,000+ reduction in the amount claimed by the other attorney.
Boundary Dispute Case
Adverse Possession. Represented clients whose next door neighbor decided to tear down a fence that had been in place for 40+ years, and build a new one on the legally described property line (closer to clients’ house than the old fence). The case was settled by relocating the new fence to recognize the boundary established by adverse possession, and by payment of money damages.
Business Dispute Cases
Claim of Fraud in Stock Sale. Represented a client who was sued on a claim that he had defrauded a co-owner of a closely-held corporation in connection with client’s purchase of the co-owner’s stock. The case was settled on a “walk-away” basis, with the party who filed suit taking nothing and abandoning a $3,500,000+ claim.
Closely Held Corporation Buy-Out. Represented a client who had started a successful business with a close friend. They had a serious falling-out, could not agree on how to operate the business, and could not agree on what it was worth. The dispute was resolved with a negotiated buy-sell agreement without the need of a lawsuit.
Construction Dispute Cases
Public Works Concealed Site Condition. Represented a contractor who had a public works job that included substantial excavation. The public owner’s contract specifications tried to put on the contractor all risk of excavating subsurface rubble previously buried on-site by the owner, by saying that some rubble had been dumped to an unknown depth and by making the item “lump sum” instead of unit price. Owner had failed to disclose it had dumped and buried concrete on the site for 30+ years, and had not been able to determine how much it had dumped and buried, despite investigating the condition for over 2 years. The case was settled for a $237,500 payment to the contractor at mediation, without the need for a lawsuit.
Home Remodel Contract Dispute. Represented homeowners who had a $312,000+ contract to remodel their home. Homeowners terminated the general contractor for various reasons. Part of the contract included installation and painting of siding. The paint failed by blistering and peeling due to water infiltration and improper application. Homeowner sued the general contractor and the painter. The general contractor counter-claimed for wrongful termination and cross-claimed against the painter. The case was settled for a payment of $175,000 to the homeowner at mediation.
Employee Wage Dispute Cases
Unpaid Overtime Claim. Represented an undocumented employee who was paid for several years at a straight hourly wage in cash, but with no overtime. The case settled with a payment to the employee of $9,000+.
Unpaid Minimum Wage Claim. Represented an undocumented worker employed at a mall kiosk. The employer took advantage of the employee’s undocumented status, by requiring long hours and paying less than minimum wage with no overtime. The lawsuit was filed against the shell company that was the employer, and the persons who owned it. The case settled with a payment to the employee of $16,000+.
Misclassification Claim. Represented a bookkeeper who was required to work very long hours as a salaried employee. Filed suit to recover unpaid overtime, because the employee should have been classified as hourly. The case settled with a payment of $25,000 to the employee.
Insurance Coverage Dispute Case
Concealed Dry Rot. Represented clients whose home suffered concealed dry rot from water intrusion. Their insurance company denied coverage, requiring a lawsuit to force coverage of cost of inspection and repairs. The case settled with a payment of $242,000+ to the homeowners.
Timber Trespass Case
Trees Cut Without Permission. Represented clients who had a neighbor that decided to cut down several of their trees one Friday evening, while they were away. The neighbor claimed he had permission, which clients denied. Obtained a Judgment against the neighbor for $24,500+ in damages and attorney fees, which the neighbor has paid in full.
Other Significant Appellate and Litigation Cases
URS Consultants, Inc. v. INCA Engineers, Inc. Represented sub-consultant in dispute with lead consultant. Case resolved after favorable ruling on summary judgment.
Hensel Phelps Construction Co. v. King County. Contract provisions enforced to limit the availability of quantum meruit claims.
Fiorito Bros. v. State of Washington (Goose Gap). Pre-trial motions used to produce directed verdict in excess of $1.2 million. These motions, which required thorough analysis of contract law pertaining to claim notice provisions, as applied to the WSDOT Standard Specifications, caused a Thurston County Superior Court judge to reverse his own colleague. This result was then successfully defended on appeal.
Mendez v. Palm Harbor Homes, Inc. Significant arbitration decision. Court held that Consumer Protection Act claims can be arbitrated under an arbitration agreement.
Ziegler v. Danielsen. Successful appeal of adverse possession judgment, based upon the failure to find fixed boundaries of the land claimed to have been adversely possessed.
American Discount Corporation v. Hi-Quality House of Pies, Inc. Transformed a major loss into a major victory through appeal. Took over representation of seller of baking company after loss at trial to buyers, to appeal an award of lost profits to the buyers based on findings of sellers’ fraud and misrepresentation as to the assets and liabilities of the baking company. Court of Appeals reversed the lost profits award, which then allowed the sellers to recover substantial sums from the buyers.