With a career spanning over 30 years, successfully representing a wide range of clients in complex and high-profile cases, Managing Partner Jeff Eberhard is a recognizable and reputable force within the industry.
Jeff’s practice focuses on civil litigation throughout Oregon and Washington with an emphasis on the defense of complex liability claims including dram shop liquor liability. By successfully defending hundreds of cases, Jeff’s knowledge of Oregon’s Dram Shop Act is proved in the state of Oregon.
Kyle Riley manages the firm’s Seattle, Washington, office. He has profound expertise in Washington bad faith law, wrongful death, and catastrophic injury claims. Kyle also has significant experience defending fire losses, trucking companies, banking institutions, and self-insured rental car companies.
Prior to joining Smith Freed Eberhard, Kyle worked with the Oregon Department of Justice where he gained significant litigation experience specializing in the recovery of self-insured losses. He joined Smith Freed Eberhard in 2003.
Josh’s practice focuses on the defense of cases involving personal injury and wrongful death. He represents companies and the insureds of several large insurance carriers against claims arising from the alleged negligent use of motor vehicles, products liability, and premises liability.
Josh started as an associate at Smith Freed Eberhard in 2001. He has been a partner since 2008. Josh leads a group of attorneys that specialize in trying cases and effective pre-trial litigation. Josh typically tries several cases a year to jury verdict.
Prior to joining Smith Freed Eberhard, Josh gained experience in civil litigation, criminal defense, and family law while clerking at a firm in Salem, Oregon. While attending law school, he spent time in London, UK, where he served as a solicitor’s clerk for a high-profile firm advocating on behalf of individuals alleging human rights violations.
Paul’s practice is focused on defending general contractors, real estate developers, and specialty subcontractors in construction defect related litigation in both Oregon and Washington.
His litigation experience spans 25 years in the areas of construction defect litigation and appellate work in both state and federal court. Paul is known for his expertise in defending design professionals in malpractice claims as well as defending builders against property owners in construction-related claims.
Prior to joining Smith Freed Eberhard, Paul worked for several years as a general litigator focusing on criminal defense as well as a wide range of civil litigation both at the trial and appellate level. Paul has extensive experience in all phases of litigation including pre-trial practice, trial practice, and appellate work.
Ryan specializes in defending a wide range of personal injury claims and has significant representation in construction and job-site injuries, automobile accidents, catastrophic injuries, wrongful death, premise liability, and products liability and has extended his practice to work closely with Smith Freed Eberhard’s Construction and Development Group.
Prior to joining Smith Freed Eberhard, Ryan gained his insurance defense experience working at law firms in Eugene and Portland, Oregon. While attending law school, Ryan served as an associate editor of the Oregon Law Review, preparing articles for publication and conducting associated research.
Cliff’s practice focuses primarily on the defense of personal injury and property damage claims brought against commercial and personal lines insurers and their insureds. His practice involves the handling of a wide range of cases, including personal injury negligence, errors & omission, liquor liability, construction defect, and business litigation.
Cliff has experience taking cases to jury verdicts as a lead trial attorney and has conducted numerous arbitrations and mediations in both Oregon and Washington. Cliff is also experienced in insurance coverage matters and regularly advises and defends carriers in coverage disputes. In addition, Cliff manages the firm’s probate and subrogation practices.
Cliff’s well-rounded legal background has provided him with the ability to quickly evaluate key issues and identify strategic opportunities in his cases. This enables his clients to efficiently and effectively prepare for trial or pursue favorable early resolution of matters when appropriate.
Bill specializes in commercial litigation defense – the defense of large loss or catastrophic injury claims that are covered under commercial liability insurance policies. He regularly defends claims based on premises liability, products liability, liquor liability (dram shop), defamation, commercial auto liability and general negligence.
Bill has extensive experience defending large loss commercial liability claims ranging from $50,000 to over $10,000,000. He has successfully represented clients from all over the U.S and abroad.
Thomas McCurdy is a litigator with significant experience handling civil litigation matters. From product liability and personal injury matters to healthcare providers facing medical malpractice allegations, Tom provides his clients with skilled, efficient, and cost-effective legal solutions.
Tom has handled a variety of complex cases throughout his career. He has defended numerous product liability matters that have resulted in early dismissals, successful settlements, and favorable jury verdicts. An illustration of Tom’s skill in the resolution of complicated claims can be found in one of his early product liability cases. The plaintiff alleged that a tire failed due to defect and caused damage to the plaintiff’s vehicle. Tom aggressively defended the matter and demonstrated to the court that there was absolutely no evidence of a defect in the product. The result was a complete defense verdict for his client.
As a leader in Smith Freed Eberhard’s Construction and Development Group, Mike leverages proficiency, over a decade of experience, and hard-nosed determination to give his clients the advantage. Mike focuses on representing general contractors, subcontractors, product manufacturers, and design professionals in all aspects of construction defect and design claims.
Before joining Smith Freed Eberhard, Mike worked on construction defect litigation with a niche Oregon-based insurance defense firm. During his time there, Mike gained substantial experience in depositions, arbitrations, and mediations. Mike has also worked as a judicial clerk in Multnomah County Circuit Court where he was closely mentored by trial court judges on all aspects of criminal and civil trials. He has been exposed to numerous trials, including working alongside some of Oregon’s most experienced litigators.
Prior to entering the practice of law, Mike graduated from Gonzaga University School of Law, where he served as the Managing Editor of the Gonzaga Law Review and competed with Gonzaga Law School’s National Trial Team.
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.
Sean provides defense for insurers and their insureds in complex litigation suits in the areas of automotive claims, commercial liability defense, first and third-party claims, and SIU claims.
Prior to joining Smith Freed Eberhard, Sean was a judicial clerk in both Lane County and Multnomah County. During this time, he was able to observe over 75 court and jury trials and gain insight into advanced trial tactics.
While attending law school, Sean also worked as a law clerk at a mid-sized civil litigation firm in Eugene, Oregon. In this role, he became skilled in executing legal research and distilling his findings into concise arguments. In addition, he honed his composition techniques for creating effective legal documents.
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.
Brian Schiewe is an experienced litigator with a diverse legal background that helps him quickly grasp what will dictate a case’s outcome. Brian’s practice focuses on commercial liability defense, automotive defense, and business litigation.
Brian joined Smith Freed Eberhard in 2015 and practices out of the firm’s Seattle office. Before joining the firm, Brian worked as an associate attorney at a boutique insurance defense firm where he defended policyholders against a wide variety of claims including personal injury, premises liability, automobile liability, earth movement, and maritime claims. Responsible for all aspects of litigation, Brian honed his litigation and resolution skills across a multitude of practice areas that serve as the foundation for his practice today.
Before attending law school, Brian managed all aspects of litigation support as a paralegal at a Seattle, Washington firm, where he focused primarily on complex litigation and prosecuting class action cases involving corporate fraud and misconduct.
Denny is a founding member of Smith Freed Eberhard. His practice specializes in complex civil cases with a focus on catastrophic personal injury claims.
With over 41 year’s experience, Denny is a seasoned attorney in a variety of litigation areas, including job-site injury, premises liability, construction dispute, products liability, business tort, large automobile and commercial transportation injury, fraud and property trespass. Denny has conducted over 300 jury trials and arbitrations involving numerous individuals and business entities. He has also participated in legislative sessions on behalf of the Defense Bar.
Bob is a founding member of Smith Freed Eberhard and has over 40 years of litigation experience. Bob frequently prepares and delivers seminars and lectures to insurance professionals and trade organizations on insurance coverage issues, hot topics, and legislative updates. He also has spent several years training agents for large insurers on all aspects of claims with an emphasis on errors & omissions liability and how to avoid it.
Bob’s practice is broad-based in all aspects of insurance defense. He focuses on Special Investigations Unit, first-party property issues, as well as property-related casualty claims. Bob provides coverage opinions for all aspects of property and casualty insurance and he conducts fraud investigations.
Steve’s practice primarily involves defending builders in construction defect disputes. He also devotes a significant amount of his time to advising employers in regard to employment matters and representing employers in disputes arising from such matters. In addition, during the past fifteen years, Steve so has been heavily involved in all aspects of insurance coverage law, from drafting insurance policy terms to advising insurance companies with regard to their duties in a wide variety of circumstances, as well as defending insurance companies in coverage disputes in Oregon and Washington courts.
Melanie’s practice focuses primarily on commercial liability defense, including premises liability, products liability, automobile liability, negligence, catastrophic injury, and liquor liability (dram shop) claims.
Prior to joining Smith Freed Eberhard, Melanie worked at a defense firm in Portland where her practice focused on insurance coverage and bad faith litigation. Prior to that, she worked at insurance defense firms in both Portland and Seattle where her practice included defense of third-party claims.
During law school, Melanie worked as a law clerk for the Oregon Department of Justice, Civil Litigation Section and externed for the Honorable Ronald B. Leighton at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. She was also an Associate Editor-In-Chief on the Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy.
Jake is an associate on Josh Hayward’s team. He focuses on automotive insurance defense and personal injury where he draws on his experience in investigating the validity of claims against his corporate and public clients.
Prior to joining Smith Freed Eberhard, Jake represented self-insured employers in Oregon and Washington for a workers’ compensation defense firm in Lake Oswego, Oregon. There, Jake managed an active caseload of over 50 separate matters for a major US grocery chain, proving himself to be an instrumental part of negotiating favorable settlements and the closure of claims. He also represented many corporations and government bodies in litigation before the Washington Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals.
Additionally, Jake spent much of his early practice helping the average citizen. In the wake of the housing crisis, Jake represented distressed homeowners against banks in mortgage litigation, typically for improper lending practices. He also managed a firm’s unlawful detainer caseload throughout litigation while representing his clients in all court proceedings.
Prior to earning his Juris Doctor at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, Jake researched state legislative history and statutes for a Sacramento-based firm specializing in legislative intent research. He has also researched labor, employment, and real property issues for senior attorneys at three California state bodies.
Jessica is an associate on the teams of Gordon Klug and Ashley Nagrodski, providing defense for insurers and their insureds in a variety of commercial litigation suits. Jessica’s practice focuses on automobile accidents, construction defect, first and third party personal injury, product liability, and uninsured and underinsured motorist cases.
Prior to joining Smith Freed Eberhard, Jessica worked as a civil litigator on both the plaintiffs and defense side. She gained experience in the areas of commercial litigation, personal injury, construction defect, eminent domain, professional malpractice, and employment, in addition to federal contract and trespass law.
While attending law school in Washington, D.C., Jessica won awards for her legal writing and oral advocacy skills. Jessica also took the opportunity to intern at the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice, and is proud to have worked as a legal assistant for The Constitution Project’s task force on detainee treatment.
Before beginning her legal career, Jessica worked as an editor for a major publisher in D.C.
Jessica loves to spend her free time cooking, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, skiing, checking out the breweries of Seattle with friends, and introducing visitors to the adventures of the Pacific Northwest.
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.
Ryan’s practice focuses primarily on the defense of personal injury, premises liability, and automotive claims. Before joining the firm, Ryan gained experience in criminal defense, family and divorce law, and municipal law, where he focused on guiding municipalities through Department of Environmental Conservation Environmental Impact Assessments.
Catherine Sutton received her law degree from the Seattle University School of Law in 2018 and was admitted to the Washington State Bar the same year. While in law school, Catherine was a Senior Staff Editor for the Seattle Journal for Social Justice, the Vice President of Communications for the Alternative Dispute Resolution Board, and an employment law research assistant for Professor Charlotte Garden. She also worked in the Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic representing trademark clients before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Catherine has experience with employment law, intellectual property, and cybersecurity following in-house counsel internships with the Seattle Sounders, the Seattle Symphony, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Prior to joining Smith Freed Eberhard, Matt managed the Oregon office of a multi-state law firm handling an active case load of hundreds of consumer collection cases at a time. Matt started his legal career as a public defender where he obtained extensive experience taking cases to a jury verdict. Through his legal career, Matt has appeared in cases in every county in Oregon.
Steven Gassert is an associate attorney with Smith Freed Eberhard on Paul Sheely’s team, focusing on construction defect litigation.
Steven has a diverse legal background and has experience practicing construction defect litigation, real estate law, and condo and homeowners association law. Prior to joining Smith Freed Eberhard, Steven worked as assistant vice president and general counsel at a health care cost containment company, where he served as the company’s primary legal officer. Prior to that, he worked at a class action and mass tort solutions company, where his primary focus was construction defect litigation.
Steven is originally from Pittsburgh, PA, but moved to Washington DC for school where he lived until moving to Portland in 2014. Steven has two daughters, meaning he is outnumbered three to one at home. He loves to cook, so he is always trying new recipes, even though his daughters always hate them (unless it’s chicken nuggets or mac and cheese). You could also say that he plays a lot of golf (at least once a week).
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.
Joyce is an associate attorney on Cliff Wilson’s team, with a primary focus on Personal Lines defense.
Prior to joining Smith Freed Eberhard, Joyce began her career as a Plaintiff’s attorney at a large personal injury law firm. She brings with her a broad range of civil litigation experience to her practice ranging from premises liability, first and third party personal injury, uninsured and underinsured motorist, and personal injury protection (PIP) cases.
She received her J.D. from Seattle University School of Law, where she was an active board member of the Seattle University Law School’s Moot Court Board and The Seattle Journal of Environmental Law. Joyce participated consistently in mock trial and appellate competitions, ultimately earning first place in a mock appellate competition.
Kyle Ellison graduated cum laude from Chapman University School of Law in Orange County, California and served as a symposium editor of the Chapman Law Review. He began his legal career in California Workers’ Compensation where he represented both injured workers and defended employers against injury claims with both in-house and private firms. He subsequently moved into private civil litigation defense where he defended insureds in cases ranging from auto accidents, personal injury, premises liability, dog bites, and other related claims. Kyle joined Smith Freed Eberhard in January 2020 where he has continued to grow his civil litigation practice, including expanding into construction defect litigation.
In his free time, Kyle enjoys reading about history, playing jazz music, swing dancing, photography, working on classic cars, and spending time with his wife and son.
Trevor J. Eisele works with Paul Sheely in Smith Freed Eberhard’s Construction and Development practice group, focusing on subrogation claims and insurance defense litigation. Prior to joining Smith Freed Eberhard, Trevor worked as a litigation clerk for Davis and Galm law Firm in Beaverton, Oregon. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Oregon State University in 2016 and a law degree from Lewis & Clark Law School in 2019, where he also served as an article editor for the Lewis & Clark Law Review.
Brittany joined Smith Freed Eberhard in 2019 as an associate attorney. She previously worked as an associate attorney at Tyson and Mendes, LLP, an insurance defense firm in Seattle, WA. She has experience litigating cases from start to finish. From initial litigation planning, discovery and dispositive motions, arbitration and trial.
Brittany has published articles involving Washington’s arbitration limit increase, Washington’s position on Service of Process issues, property law issues, and an informative piece on women’s increased discrimination protections through changes in employment law. In addition, she served as an article editor where she revised numerous articles pertaining to insurance defense, employment law, automated vehicle and pending safety regulations, cannabis law, and women’s initiatives in the workplace.
Shelby Bowden is an associate attorney with Smith Freed Eberhard on Gordon Klug’s team, focusing on personal injury defense.
Before coming to Smith Freed Eberhard, Shelby completed her bachelor’s degree in international business from Florida International University and then graduated from Seattle University School of Law. While at Seattle University Law she was a law clerk at Nelson, Langer, & Engle and a legal intern at Fong Law, PLLC, where she honed her legal research and critical analysis skills. Shelby is currently in the process of earning her master’s degree in media communications from Colorado State University.