Commercial General Liability
Catastrophic Injury Experts
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Innovative Litigators
Expert Problem Solvers
Legal Analytics Driven

From the moment we opened our doors, Smith Freed Eberhard has been fearlessly pushing the edge of what’s possible for our clients. We’ve carefully cultivated and developed specialties in our practices and our people to give you the very best: formidable expertise, strategically creative thinking, and litigation guideline adherence. We are your champion, keenly focused on understanding your situation, solving your challenges, and achieving your goals.

Our commercial liability defense team is highly skilled in defending all types of commercial liability claims. This includes Dram Shop Liability, Assault and Battery / Bodily Injury, Fractures and Broken Bones, Neck and Back Injuries, Spinal Cord Injuries / Maritime Accidents / Municipal Liability / Sexual Abuse / Traumatic Brain Injuries / Wrongful Death / Bad Faith / Premises Liability, Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents / Product Liability, Marijuana, Cannabis Law, Manufacturing / Trucking Accidents / Job site Injury / Garage Liability / Auto Dealers / Timber Trespass.

Gordon Klug
  • 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
  • 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.

Success Story 4th and 10… An Improbable Comeback Win at the Washington Court of Appeals Tuesday December 1, 2020 By: Firm Authorship
Success Story Securing Victory Under Securities Laws Friday December 20, 2019 By: Firm Authorship
Success Story Allegations of Misappropriation of Trade Secrets and Employment Law Violations? Denied. Friday December 20, 2019 By: Firm Authorship
Success Story An $18,000,000 Dismissal Friday December 20, 2019 By: Firm Authorship
Moreau v. Samalin Success Story A Swift and Speedy Settlement Friday December 20, 2019 By: Firm Authorship
Success Story Due Diligence and Maintaining Position Leaves Ashley with a Happy Client Thursday December 19, 2019 By: Firm Authorship
Picture frame Michaels Success Story Can You Picture a Better Outcome? Thursday March 21, 2019 By: Firm Authorship
avoiding the septic storm Success Story Avoiding the Septic Storm Friday February 8, 2019 By: Paul Sheely
Success Story Diligent Preparation and Spotting Fatal Flaws in the Other Side’s Case Leads to Favorable Outcome Thursday March 22, 2018 By: Ryan McLellan
Success Story Persistence and Staying Focused on the Facts Leads to Unanimous Defense Verdict Wednesday January 10, 2018 By: Cliff Wilson
Success Story Litigation Success: Due Diligence and Maintaining Position Leaves Ashley with a Happy Client Thursday December 28, 2017 By: Firm Authorship
Success Story Occam’s Razor at Work Wednesday February 17, 2016 By: Firm Authorship
Success Story Whose Fault is it Anyway? Friday December 11, 2015 By: Cliff Wilson
Success Story No Tolerance For Tardiness Monday October 19, 2015 By: Firm Authorship
Success Story Using the Right Rulebook Monday October 19, 2015 By: Firm Authorship
Success Story Turning Over a New Leaf Thursday July 2, 2015 By: Ryan McLellan
Success Story Jobsite Injury Claims Dismissed Friday June 26, 2015 By: Firm Authorship
Success Story Breaking Bad Advice Thursday June 18, 2015 By: Firm Authorship
Success Story Bringing Down the House (By Proving Plaintiff Brought Down the Door) Thursday June 18, 2015 By: Cliff Wilson
Success Story All in the Details: Using Inconsistencies to Win at Summary Judgment Thursday June 18, 2015 By: Gordon Klug
Success Story Snowpocalypse: Negligence and Bad Faith Thursday June 18, 2015 By: Kyle Riley
Success Story Trial Venue: Conservative Controversy Thursday June 18, 2015 By: Ryan McLellan
Success Story “Excusable Neglect” – Excused Thursday June 18, 2015 By: Ryan McLellan
Success Story Lack of Evidence for an Erroneous Equestrian Thursday June 18, 2015 By: Kyle Riley
Our Process

Early & Accurate

On-Time Reporting
Throughout the Case

Legal Analytics
Proven Results
We Play
to Win

SFE has represented clients in numerous industries for decades. Our experience in representing a variety of businesses within various markets — including bars, restaurants, QSR, grocery, big box retail, manufacturers, distributors, sporting venues, and more — helps us to understand each industry and its unique challenges.

Often the desired course of action to resolve conflict, particularly in complex, time sensitive, expensive catastrophic injury cases, is the best course of action. With that in mind, our CGL defense team is committed to resolving even the most hotly contested disputes outside of court and with less delay and expense than in the traditional litigation process. The firm’s lawyers are involved in the arbitration and mediation of injury disputes of all kinds, which can result in significant cost and time savings for our clients.

CGL defense matters cannot be solved with a one size fits all approach. Our goal is to analyze and mitigate risk, whether our attorneys are negotiating a deal or helping to resolve a dispute. Early evaluation and discovery is critical. Our team seeks to identify legal defenses theories at the earliest point possible.

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