We Lead From The Front
We Live and Breathe Litigation. We Are First Trial Lawyers, Which We Believe Makes Us Superior Litigators, Creative Problem-Solvers and Litigation Management Innovators… And We Love to Win.
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Gordon Klug
Partner
  • Washington

With a strong business and litigation background, and over 20 years of first-chair trial experience, Gordon knows exactly which strategies will make a weak case stronger as well as what makes practical and financial sense. Gordon’s practice focuses on construction defect litigation defending developers, general contractors, and subcontractors throughout Washington state and works closely with Smith Freed Eberhard’s Construction and Development Group.

Prior to joining Smith Freed Eberhard, Gordon worked in-house for Travelers Insurance Company where he led the opening of the construction defect unit for their Seattle Staff Counsel office. He also focused on slip-and-falls, auto liability, construction liability, and commercial claims. Before joining Travelers, he worked for four years with the Hartford Insurance Company where he specialized in construction defect and complex commercial liability cases.

Gordon has successfully first-chaired over 50 jury trials to verdict. He is a licensed attorney before the Washington State and Appellate Courts, the United States District Court, as well as with the Puyallup Tribal Court. A notable trial victory for Gordon involved a slip-and-fall case in Snohomish County Superior Court where the jury found the plaintiff 57% at fault for her own injuries and awarded her only $10,000 for “pain and suffering”. In this case, the attorneys stipulated that the plaintiff’s medical bills “proximately caused” by the fall were $38,000 and, in the end, the plaintiff received approximately $26,000 which was not enough to satisfy her medical lien.

Gordon has also successfully handled a mandatory arbitration case where he obtained a defense verdict for his client. He also received a favorable verdict in King County District Court where the jury awarded only $1 in pain and suffering to the plaintiff.

Melanie Rose
Senior Associate Attorney
  • Oregon

Melanie is a litigator with a diverse civil litigation practice focusing on catastrophic injury, premises liability, automobile liability, dram shop, and commercial litigation. Melanie’s practice takes her all over the state of Oregon and Washington regularly, and occasionally into Idaho as well. She has given a number of presentations on changes in Oregon and Washington law highlighting the Pacific Northwest’s unique legal landscape.

Before joining Smith Freed Eberhard, Melanie handled first-party insurance claims including claims related to PIP, UM/UIM, bad faith, and consumer protection act claims on behalf of insurance carriers. Melanie also has experience handling insurance subrogation matters. This high-volume practice placed a premium on efficiency, diligence, and energy that has carried over into her current practice.

In law school, Melanie won awards for both client advocacy and legal writing. Some of Melanie’s first experiences in the legal community were volunteering for the Washington County Family Law Assistance Program and working at the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.

Melanie is an Oregon native and grew up in a handful of smaller, Southern Oregon towns. She moved to the big city for law school, fell in love with Portland, and can’t imagine being anywhere else. Away from work, Melanie can usually be found teaching knitting lessons at a local yarn shop, checking out a local brewery, or getting her yearly supply of Vitamin D during the 4 months of the year that it’s dry enough to be outside.

J. Jackson Brannon III
Associate Attorney
  • Oregon

As an attorney working on Partner William Taaffe’s team, Jackson has gained a wealth of experience in diverse civil litigation, focusing on catastrophic injury, premises liability, automobile liability, dram shop, and commercial litigation. He has been involved with taking depositions of homeowners, general contractors, project managers, and engineers and recently worked on a lawsuit involving allegations related to the foundation installation at a single-family residence located in Washington County.

Jackson has attended multiple mediations to achieve pre-trial resolution of several construction defect cases. In addition, he has attended multiple site visits and destructive testing sessions with expert consultants to identify the scope of allegations against clients.

While working with the Construction and Development Group, Jackson has also been able to work alongside Partner John Kruetzer, and our Employment and Business Litigation team, to aid in conducting several client interviews to identify relevant facts and prepare client’s responses to Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) Complaints.

As a law student, Jackson spent a summer with the Alabama AG’s Office interning with the Constitutional Defense Section. He assisted construction defect attorneys with deposition preparation and researched issues such as “Daubert” challenges and voter ID laws in various states. He has also worked with the in-house counsel of a large construction firm, based out of Birmingham, AL.

Jason Evans
Associate Attorney
  • Oregon

Jason is an associate attorney on Team Cliff Wilson. Jason’s practice focuses primarily on personal injury litigation on behalf of insureds and their insurance companies. He also handles commercial line matters, working closely with businesses and their owners in defending claims brought against them.

Jason graduated from Lewis & Clark Law School in 2019. Prior to that, he attended The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies with a minor in German Studies. Jason is now licensed to practice law in Oregon. He is currently pursuing Washington licensure as well. During his years in law school, Jason worked as an intern for one of Oregon’s top trial law firms focusing on medical malpractice defense. There, he learned the intricacies of complex trial preparation and observed how skilled attorneys deployed honed and calculated strategies to achieve the best results for their clients. In that position, Jason gained extensive experience in motions practice, trial preparation, and trial support in wrongful death and medical malpractice cases. Jason brings that background knowledge and accompanying skills with him to the ranks of Smith Freed Eberhard, where he remains committed to the interests of clients and continues to insist on nothing short of the best-possible outcome.

Jason is a native of Portland, Oregon. He is also a first-generation lawyer, with his mother and father both electing medical careers. He is musically inclined and has played the cello since he was about six years old and was a member of Portland’s Metropolitan Youth Symphony from 2006 to 2011. In his free time, Jason occupies himself with several interests including snowboarding, building custom computers, and sampling Portland’s burgeoning local restaurant and food cart scene.

Gilbert Cotto-Lazo
Associate Attorney
  • Oregon

Gilbert Cotto-Lazo is an associate attorney with Smith Freed Eberhard on Jeff Eberhard’s team, focusing on commercial liability defense.

Prior to attending the University of Oregon School of Law, he worked for various law firms as a legal assistant in the Santa Barbara area, while attending the University of California, Santa Barbara. Following his graduation from UCSB in 2015, he worked for a workman’s compensation firm for two years, where he managed a large case load and worked directly with the managing attorneys.

Upon attending Oregon Law, Gilbert worked as a law clerk for a Eugene law firm, drafting complex dispositive motions and conducting legal research. While on Oregon’s Moot Court Board, he competed in a national moot court competition, where he gained a passion for appellate litigation, and served as the Treasurer for the Latino/a Law Student’s Association.

During law school, Gilbert gained valuable research and writing experience while serving as a judicial extern for the Hon. Charles Carlson at the Lane County Circuit Court, the Hon. Steven R. Powers at the Oregon Court of Appeals, and the Hon. John V. Acosta at the United States Federal Court for the District of Oregon.  Gilbert has assisted in drafting opinions both at the Oregon Court of Appeals and the United States Federal Court for the District of Oregon, of which included diverse and complex civil litigation matters.

Prior to graduation from Oregon Law in 2020, Gilbert was nominated for and awarded the 2019-20 Galen Award for Excellence in Legal Writing by Oregon Law for his article entitled Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses: An Overview of the Immigration System and Chevron Deference.

The son of Salvadoran immigrants, Gilbert was born and raised in Southern California and is the first college graduate and attorney in the family.  Outside of work, Gilbert spends his time learning to play new styles of music on guitar, exploring the Pacific Northwest, and powerlifting.