Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I want to take a moment to share my recommendations with you on very important contests on your ballot for the Supreme Court.

Election statistics show that over 20% of voters skip the judicial races on their ballots. As someone who works in our courtrooms every day, I know it is critical to have the right men and women leading our judicial system. It is vitally important to our system that we elect highly qualified people to our courts. This year the answers are very clear. These are the candidates I support.

Supreme Court, Pos. 1 – Mary Yu

Appointed to the Supreme Court by Governor Inslee in May to replace retiring Justice Jim Johnson, Justice Yu has shown herself to be dedicated to improving access to justice and protecting individual rights for all. She served for 14 years as a highly respected Superior Court judge, where she was known for treating every case and every litigant with respect and fairness, and  understanding that each decision a judge makes impacts someone’s life while paying careful attention to the law. Justice Yu received the highest possible rating - Exceptionally Well Qualified - from all six bar associations that rated her. She is running unopposed.

Supreme Court, Pos. 3 – Mary Fairhurst

Justice Fairhurst has served on our Supreme Court with distinction for 12 years. As a Justice, she is a champion of fairness and judicial independence. During her tenure, she’s worked to improve access to justice, and make the court more efficient and transparent. Justice Fairhurst is endorsed by over 100 current and retired judges, political and civic leaders, business and labor, law enforcement, firefighters, teachers, Democrats, Independents, Republicans and many more. She is running unopposed.

 Supreme Court, Pos. 4 – Charles W. Johnson

Justice Charles Johnson has a 24-year record that shows a commitment to our rights and freedoms. He has been a strong supporter individual privacy and holding government accountable. All of the bar associations have rated Justice Johnson "exceptionally well qualified." His proven experience, fairness and impartiality are reflected by the diversity of organizations supporting him, including: State Council of Fire Fighters; State Patrol Troopers; King, Pierce, and Snohomish County Democrats; Mainstream Republicans; State Labor Council; State Association of Realtors; Aerospace Machinists 751; Federation of State Employees; and other groups and individuals statewide. Justice Johnson is being challenged by Eddie Yoon, who has been teaching outside of the country for about 15 years. This is a clear choice.

 Supreme Court, Pos. 7 – Debra L. Stephens

Our other contested race is this one. Justice Stephens is the easy and overwhelming choice. Since her appointment in 2008, Justice Stephens has been dedicated to serving the people of our state and upholding the rule of law. As a longtime constitutional law professor, she respects legal traditions, and works every day to maintain the independence of our judiciary. She is widely regarded as one of the brightest legal minds our court has seen in recent times, and is supported by prominent leaders in government, education, and business; law enforcement, firefighters, labor unions, judges, and lawyers. Justice Stephens is rated “exceptionally well qualified,” by all of the statewide bar organizations. Her opponent, John Scannell, is disbarred for unethical conduct, and is considered ineligible to serve.  We cannot embarrass the process and allow him to somehow make a good showing.

 I hope you have found this information helpful. I believe strongly that every client who walks in our door seeking a chance for justice through the courts should have a fair shot. We depend on these public servants to make sure our rights are protected. The outcome of this election will have a huge impact on our civil justice system. I am confident that these candidates will fight to protect all of our rights.

 Feel free to share this with family and friends. Regardless of your views on these races, please vote by November 4th.  It is important to have your voice heard in our electoral process.

Please contact me if you have any further questions. If you need more information, you can view the voters’ guide produced by the Secretary of State online here.

Thank you for your consideration and for participating in our democratic process.


Sincerely yours,

Kim Putnam, Wayne Lieb, and  Kathryn Potvin

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Your life was disrupted by an industrial injury.  Your disability was so significant you couldn't go back to your usual line of work.  L&I approved a plan for you to be retrained in a new career but something goes wrong and the plan fails.  Now what? 
As long as you did not do something knowingly or intentionally to cause the plan to fail, your financial benefits should not be suspended or discontinued.
RCW 51.32.099 allows L&I or a self insured employer to suspend your benefits if the retraining plan is interrupted as a result of the worker's actions.  "Interruption" means the plan is disrupted to the extend the employability goal is no longer attainable. 
Some situations are by definition outside the control of the worker.  These include: 
  • closure of the school,
  • death in the worker's immediate family, and
  • documented changes in the worker's accepted medical conditions that prevent participation in the plan. 
Some situations are automatically deemed the worker's fault.  This includes failing to comply with the L&I "accountability agreement.  Before a retraining plan begins, a worker is required to sign an "accountability agreement."   A current copy of the L&I agreement is found here. Generally speaking, the worker agrees to abide by the school's attendance and performance policies, notify the vocational counselor of any absences, promptly notify the vocational counselor of any academic or other difficulties with the program, work with instructors and the vocational counselor if you need academic help, and return the vocational rehabilitation counselor's phone calls within 48 hours. 
If the worker misses too many classes, performs poorly in classes, fails to communicate with instructors or the vocational counselor, or otherwise breaches the accountability agreement then the worker may be accused of noncooperative behavior.  The worker is given 30 days to provide a letter that explains their behavior.  Benefits could be suspended unless you can show good cause for the noncooperative behavior.   
By definition, noncooperation is behavior that obstructs or delays the administration of the claim.  The behavior is deliberate and calculated to obstruct.  Behavior that is not designed or intended to obstruct or delay is not noncooperation.  When the worker is not "noncooperative", suspension of benefits is not appropriate.  In re Ramona Nuno, BIIA Dec. 12,19101 (2014)
If a worker's behavior is noncooperative, the worker must then show "good cause" for the behavior.  Whether the worker's excuse constitutes good cause is often a question of fact for a Judge. 

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Phone:  (360) 754-7707; Toll Free:  (800) 225-4529

 Putnam Lieb Potvin is a law firm servicing Western Washington in the fields of workers' compensation, car accidents, dangerous products, and slip and falls.