Jeff Thomas is one of the founding members of the firm. As a lawyer, Jeff is most at home in the courtroom. His specialty is trying cases. Although he is proud of the work he has done representing hundreds of clients over his 30 year career, he is especially pleased to have been the primary outside litigation counsel for Puget Sound Energy for the past 22 years. From complaint to closing argument, he works hand in hand with his clients to navigate the legal system to obtain just and efficient results.
Jeff Thomas is senior trial lawyer who focuses his practice on commercial disputes, personal injury, and insurance recovery cases. Over the course of his 30-year career, he has tried several dozen cases to verdict.
Jeff is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, a highly selective, invitation-only national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges. He is also a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America. He often speaks on current trial practice topics.
After five years at Perkins Coie, Jeff left in 1996 to become one of the founders of GTTC.
- Defense verdict for Electric Utility – Jeff, along with partner Mark Wilner and associate John Cadagan obtained a defense jury verdict in favor of Grant County Public Utility in an $80 million personal injury case. The trial was one of the few jury trials conducted in King County during the COVID -19 pandemic and was conducted entirely on the Zoom platform.
- Stray Voltage Verdict – Whatcom County farmers sued long-time GTTC client Puget Sound Energy, Inc. alleging that PSE’s electrical distribution system contributed to increased levels of neutral-to-earth voltage (sometimes called “stray voltage”) on the plaintiffs’ farm, which in turn caused approximately $6.5 million in lost milk production revenue. After a three-week jury trial in Whatcom County Superior Court during the summer of 2017, the jury rendered a net verdict for the plaintiffs for only $178,000. The case settled before entry of judgment for even less. GTTC partners Jeff Thomas and Mark WIlner defended the company and helped achieve this favorable outcome.
- Expert witness evidence in EMF tort case ruled inadmissible – In order to meet growing demand, Puget Sound Energy decided to replace an existing 52-year-old substation in Kirkland with a new and considerably larger one, which went on line in 2010. A group of homeowners sued PSE in King County Superior Court, alleging that the electromagnetic fields emanating from the substation were a public and private nuisance. The Court ordered plaintiffs to submit scientific evidence, which included expert testimony.
- With Jeff Thomas’ help, PSE moved to exclude the plaintiffs’ expert’s declaration as inadmissible – At the end of a several-day evidentiary hearing, the Court ruled that the homeowners’ expert was not scientifically reliable. The homeowners appealed. The Court of Appeals certified their case to the Washington Supreme Court for direct review. In 2012, the justices held that this testimony had been properly excluded. A plaintiffs’ ruling on this case could have had broad implications, potentially affecting 150 million houses in America.
- Groundbreaking jury trial over Madoff-linked audits – This 2015 jury trial was the first successful lawsuit in the country against an auditor over losses tied to the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history. In 2010 FutureSelect Portfolio Management Inc., located in Redmond, Washington, sued Ernst & Young over faulty audits of a Madoff-linked feeder fund. Jeff Thomas represented the plaintiff, as co-counsel with noted Los Angeles trial lawyers Thomas, Alexander, Forrester & Sorensen LLP. In 2015, after a five-week trial, the jury sided with investors in this complicated case, finding that the accounting giant negligently signing off on audits of billions in assets that did not exist. The jury awarded $16 million in damages to FutureSelect. The award helped to recoup a portion of the many millions of dollars that FutureSelect had lost in its investment in a Madoff-linked feeder fund.
- $130 million settlement in trade secret case – Move and Zillow are major competitors in the online real estate market. When two senior executives of Move left that company in 2014 and went to work as senior executives for Zillow, Move (and its co-plaintiff the National Association of Realtors) filed a lawsuit against the two executives and Zillow for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duty, and other claims. The lawsuit involved allegations that the two executives had purposefully destroyed evidence.
After two years of preparation, the case was scheduled to go to trial in June 2016. Working with co-counsel, Jeff Thomas, Michael Rosenberger, Mark Wilner and Michael Brown obtained a $130 million settlement on behalf of Move and the NAR.
- Canadian woman struck by truck, receives $1.3 million – When their flight out of Bellingham Airport was delayed, a Canadian couple took a taxi to the Bellis Fair Mall to go shopping. After the cab driver dropped them off in a loading area at the mall, the woman was struck by an armored vehicle owned by Kenneth L. Kellar Truck Lines. With the assistance of Mark Wilner and Jeff Thomas, the woman and her husband successfully sued Kellar Truck Lines. The case resulted in a $1.3 million jury verdict for the plaintiffs.
PUBLICATIONS & PRESENTATIONS
- Numerous presentations on trial advocacy and other litigation matters in Continuing Legal Education seminars.
- Name of Article, Name of Publication, Year Published
- Name of Article, Name of Publication, Year Published
- Direct Examination, ABOTA Masters in Trial
- Attacking Opposing Expert Testimony, NBI
- The Investigation and Subrogation Process, NBI
- The Best Uses of Audio-Visual Media in Trial Exhibits, NBI
- Controlling Difficult Witnesses in Direct and Cross-Examination, NBI
- Ethical Considerations at Trial, NBI
- What to Expect When You Get to Court for Your First Trial, NBI
- Avoiding the Corporate Shield: A Litigator’s Perspective
If I weren’t a lawyer, I’d be playing guitar in a rock ‘n’ roll band. That’s what I did for ten years before attending law school. I played in bands called Edge City, Heart of Gold Band, and Stark Raven. I have a studio and my brother and I record there and have begun to release music on Spotify and other streaming platforms. In a way, much of being a courtroom lawyer is all about performance.
Outside the office, I enjoy spending time with my family. I also like to barbecue and make pizza. Some of my other hobbies include genealogy, watching professional sports, and world travel.