Jeff Thomas is senior trial lawyer who focuses his practice on commercial disputes, personal injury, and insurance recovery cases. Over the course of his 25-year career, he has tried to verdict 25 complicated, high-profile cases.
Jeff’s track record earned him membership in the American Board of Trial Advocates, a highly selective, invitation-only national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges. He often speaks and publishes on current trial practice topics. After five years at Perkins Coie, Jeff left in 1996 to become one of the founders of GTTC.
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.
In multi-state class action, health self-insurer required to change practices
In 2008 David Benson was severely injured in a motorcycle accident. He received $25,000 from the driver’s insurance, but this was well below the amount of his medical expenses. To pay the remainder, he submitted a claim to his own insurer, Providence Health & Services.
Providence refused to pay the claim unless he first tendered over the money he had received from the driver’s insurance. He refused and Providence denied his claim. With the assistance of Jeff Thomas and Mark Wilner, Benson filed a class action lawsuit alleging that Providence was liable for damages under the “made whole” doctrine – a state common law rule that precludes such demands. Benson prevailed, and he and other members of the class were fairly compensated.
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.
Numerous presentations on trial advocacy and other litigation matters in Continuing Legal Education seminars.
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 still play for my own enjoyment. I have a studio and my brother and I record there. In a way, much of being a courtroom lawyer is all about performance.
Outside the office, I enjoy spending time with my family. I enjoy softball, baseball and golf. My new passion is barbeque. Some of my other hobbies include photography, watching professional baseball, and world travel.