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Current Cases

Here you can find information about cases our firm is currently litigating or in the process of settling.

Cases are listed in reverse order (i.e. most recent on top).

Probst v. DRS 
Fowler v. Guerin

Interest Taken From Over 25,000 School Teachers

Named plaintiffs Mickey Fowler and Leisa Fowler, brought suit on behalf of Washington public school teachers seeking return on daily interest that was wrongfully withheld from their state-managed retirement accounts.  These actions were commenced in 2003 to recover this omitted interest, together with the gains that DRS received by investing it for over 25 years (1997-2023).

Plaintiffs, members of the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS), have retirement accounts held by the Department of Retirement Systems (DRS).  DRS promised plaintiffs 5.5% annual interest, compounded quarterly, on these accounts, but it did not credit all the interest their accounts earned.  As a matter of both common law and constitutional law, this interest belongs to the account holders.  Phillips v. Washington Legal Foundation, 524 U.S. 156, 168 (1998).  And DRS could not simply fail to credit all of the interest for various time periods.

The failure to credit interest on these accounts every day did not matter when the teachers were in TRS Plan 2, where their pension benefits were based entirely on service years and final compensation.  But when TRS members transferred to Plan 3, mainly in 1996-97, these accounts became the basis for new Plan 3 individual accounts that replaced half of their pension benefits.  Therefore, the Director and DRS's omission of some accumulated interest reduced the starting balance of their individual accounts.

Mader v. Health Care Authority

Community College Summer Quarter Benefits Case

This class action suit was brought on behalf of part-time community college instructors who worked continuously for many years but were denied health care benefits in the summer even though full-time instructors, who did not work in the summer, received health care benefits.  The Supreme Court rules that the HCA must examine the instructors' work situations, not the form of their contracts.  After remand on May 14, 2004, the Court approved a settlement of more than $11 million to compensate instructors for past summers when they should have received health insurance.

Roberts v. King County, et al. &
Duncan v. King County, et al.

"Equal Pay for Equal Work" Ordinance Case

Plaintiffs Arlene Roberts and Abu Sanusi brought a lawsuit on behalf of themselves and an alleged class of non-represented employees (both FLSA-exempt and nonexempt).  The County argued the "equal pay for equal work" ordinance merely states an "aspiration" and thus was not enforceable by affected employees.  The Superior Court dismissed the case.  The Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal, reinstating the action in August 2001.  The County asked the Supreme Court of Washington to review the case.  Plaintiffs opposed review and the Supreme Court denied review in January, 2002.  After extensive discovery and negotiations, King County settled the case.  The County agreed to pay $18.5 million to settle the Roberts class action with the Duncan class action involving delayed pay classification.

Mader v. State of Washington, et al.

Retirement Benefits for Part-Time Community College Instructors Case

This class action was brought on behalf of part-time community college instructors who worked half-time or more, but who were denied retirement benefits because their work hours were mischaracterized to give the appearance of working below half-time.  This case settled in 2002 for $12 million.

Vizcaino v. Microsoft 

Another Misclassification of "Independent Contractors" Case

In 1992 we filed suit on behalf of several common-law Microsoft employees who were mislabeled as "independent contractors," "freelancers" (another name for independent contractor), and/or employees of "staffing" firms.  The case was certified as a class action in 1993.  The district court dismissed the case in 1994.  In 1996 and again in 1997 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the class was entitled to participate in Microsoft's employee stock purchase plan.  On remand in 1998, the district court reduced the class to a tiny sliver of its original size.  On May 12, 1999, the Ninth Circuit restored the original class by granting a writ of mandamus.  The parties announced a $97 million settlement on December 12, 2000.  In addition, as part of the settlement Microsoft hired roughly 3,000 class members as regular employees with full employee benefits, which the Court valued at an additional $101 million.  The Settlement Agreement was approved by the Court in orders dated March 21, 2001 (overall settlement) and April 16, 2001 (class counsel's fees).

Scannell v. City of Seattle

The First "Temporary" Employee Case

This class action was brought against the City of Seattle by "intermittent" employees who were denied pension, vacation and other benefits.  The case settled in 1989 for approximately $10 million, including vacation and pension benefits.  (The Scannell settlement agreement was the subject of another class action, which the parties settled.  See Glaser v. City of Seattle above.)

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