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Terence J. Scanlan

Attorney

Supporting clients involved in commercial litigation has been Terry’s focus for more than 20 years. With his deep knowledge of construction law, he has been able to resolve issues between and on behalf of architects, engineers, governments and companies. His work allows budgets to be met, projects to be finished, and professionals to be made whole.

Terry's trial experience began more than 25 years ago when he worked as a prosecutor who focused mostly on violent crimes. That work laid the foundation for a long career of trial success—he has tried cases in front of more than 70 juries and many more bench trials, with clients of all sizes.

Decades of trial experience can be essential for clients, but so can having an experienced advocate who understands the alternatives to trial and why those alternatives may obtain better results. Other paths, including mediation, can guide the players in a dispute to a resolution, avoiding the uncertainty of a long court battle and those attendant costs.  Terry understands that creativity in negotiation and problem-solving can obtain results not possible in court. With a clear focus on helping businesses, individuals, regulators and government clients to articulate their expectations and their perspectives, he works hard to increase mutual understanding and the goodwill needed to keep a project moving.

As a mediator, Terry brings his knowledge and experience to help parties discern a path to resolving their disputes on terms they can embrace as an alternative to the limited resolutions possible by way of a trial verdict.  He understands that mediation allows for solutions that a court cannot provide and he works with parties to pursue those options.

Projects he has worked on include the digging of the SR99 tunnel through downtown Seattle, the building of a commercial port facility in an Anchorage earthquake zone, the South Park Bridge over the Duwamish River, and a dormitory complex at the University of Oregon. He has guided clients through claims involving wrongful deaths and other catastrophic torts cases.

Design professionals, consulting firms, local government and many others have learned to rely on Terry’s experience in mediation, litigation and trials.

Introduction

Supporting clients involved in commercial litigation has been Terry’s focus for more than 20 years. With his deep knowledge of construction law, he has been able to resolve issues between and on behalf of architects, engineers, governments and companies. His work allows budgets to be met, projects to be finished, and professionals to be made whole.

Terry's trial experience began more than 25 years ago when he worked as a prosecutor who focused mostly on violent crimes. That work laid the foundation for a long career of trial success—he has tried cases in front of more than 70 juries and many more bench trials, with clients of all sizes.

Decades of trial experience can be essential for clients, but so can having an experienced advocate who understands the alternatives to trial and why those alternatives may obtain better results. Other paths, including mediation, can guide the players in a dispute to a resolution, avoiding the uncertainty of a long court battle and those attendant costs.  Terry understands that creativity in negotiation and problem-solving can obtain results not possible in court. With a clear focus on helping businesses, individuals, regulators and government clients to articulate their expectations and their perspectives, he works hard to increase mutual understanding and the goodwill needed to keep a project moving.

As a mediator, Terry brings his knowledge and experience to help parties discern a path to resolving their disputes on terms they can embrace as an alternative to the limited resolutions possible by way of a trial verdict.  He understands that mediation allows for solutions that a court cannot provide and he works with parties to pursue those options.

Projects he has worked on include the digging of the SR99 tunnel through downtown Seattle, the building of a commercial port facility in an Anchorage earthquake zone, the South Park Bridge over the Duwamish River, and a dormitory complex at the University of Oregon. He has guided clients through claims involving wrongful deaths and other catastrophic torts cases.

Design professionals, consulting firms, local government and many others have learned to rely on Terry’s experience in mediation, litigation and trials.

Experience & Results

Design & Construction Litigation

  • Seattle Tunnel Partners, et al. v. Washington Department of Transportation, et al. (“Bertha” Project):  Retained by Shannon & Wilson to defend a $640 million claim brought by Seattle Tunnel Partners and Hitachi Zosen against WSDOT and Shannon & Wilson in Thurston County Superior Court (WA). The claims center on the cause for the failure and associated delays and costs attributable to the breakdown of a tunnel boring machine (named “Bertha”) while excavating for the new SR 99 tunnel through downtown Seattle. STP’s tort claims were dismissed on summary judgment and remaining Hitachi claims settled by a de minimis payment while Shannon & Wilson’s dispositive motion was pending.
  • Municipality of Anchorage v. ICRC, et al.:  Retained by GeoEngineers to defend a $340 million claim brought by the Municipality of Anchorage against its contractors and design team in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska (AK), regarding the development of 9000 linear feet of commercial port facility. The project entailed design and construction of container shipping and barge berth facilities utilizing an open-cell sheet pile system at the Port located in a seismically active zone. The litigation centered on whether the constructed system and geotechnical analysis underpinning the system was appropriate for surviving a return-period 500-year seismic event. While Geoengineers’ dispositive motion was pending, the case settled for a six-figure amount, fully resolving the Municipality’s $340 million claim.
  • King County v. Kiewit-Massman:  Retained by King County regarding claims arising from the construction of the new South Park Bridge spanning the Duwamish River. The King County Superior Court (WA) lawsuit centered on determining responsibility for delays and cost overruns that were in a dispute with the contractor, Kiewit-Massman. Kiewit claimed the County was responsible for more than $35 million in damages. The case settled by Kiewit surrendering more than 80% of its claim in exchange for a nominal payment by the County, which allowed the project to be completed within its original budget.
  • University of Oregon v. Hoffman Construction, et al.:  Retained by Catena Consulting Engineers in a $42 million lawsuit arising in Lane County Superior Court (OR) brought by the University of Oregon against the designers and builders of a large residential hall project on the Eugene, OR campus. Three new dormitories experienced substantial deflections on all floors of each building. Terry proposed an alternative resolution process which guaranteed repair by a certain date for an agreed-to repair scope of $6 million. This also removed the University from the litigation and shifted the remaining parties to an arbitration track. All parties agreed to this approach. With the University out of the case, the remaining parties were subsequently able to negotiate a settlement to allocate funding between five contractors and two design firms, resolving the case.
  • Ft. Knox Gold Mine v. Knight Piesold:  Retained by Knight Piesold in a $6 million claim brought in Fairbanks Superior Court (AK), initiated by Ft. Knox Gold Mine regarding a slope failure at a gold mining operation in south central Alaska. Early melting of a permafrost layer resulted in an entire heap leach mining system on a hillside to slide downslope requiring repair to the system and delay to mining operations. Early in the litigation, Terry presented technical information rebutting the causation theory of the mine owner and its insurer. The $6 million claim was settled for a significantly lower six-figure payment.

Wrongful Death & Catastrophic Tort Litigation

  • Donnelly v. HDR Architecture, et al.:  Retained to represent HDR Architecture in a lawsuit brought in King County Superior Court (WA), involving catastrophic injuries suffered by a state worker at a facility designed by HDR. The injured plaintiff and his family sought $42 million in damages against HDR, as well as two co-defendants, a general contractor and subcontractor. After a five-week jury trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of HDR, finding no liability and awarding no damages.
  • Zimmerman et al v. Tesoro, et al.:  Retained to represent Matrix Service Co. in a wrongful death lawsuit brought in Skagit County Superior Court (WA), initiated by the families of seven refinery workers killed during a catastrophic explosion at the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes, Washington. Terry provided a full defense for Matrix in this litigation with damages sought near $100 million. Matrix brought a motion for summary judgment, seeking discharge of all claims. Matrix was completely dismissed from the case with prejudice.

Education

  • Seattle University (B.A., Economics, 1983)
  • Seattle University School of Law (J.D., 1986)

Admissions

  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Alaska
  • US District Court, Western District of Washington
  • US District Court, Eastern District of Washington
  • US District Court, District of Oregon
  • US District Court, District of Alaska
  • US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • US Supreme Court

Awards/Honors and Organizational Memberships

  • Ranked in Washington State by Chambers USA in the area of Construction since 2019
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent 5.0 out of 5
  • American Bar Association, Member
  • King County Bar Association, Member, Past Board of Trustees (2006-2009); Judicial Screening Committee, 1999-present (Past Co-chair); Volunteer for Low-Income Neighborhood Clinics Program (1999-present)
  • American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), Member, Legal Counsel Forum
  • American Council of Engineering Companies of Washington (ACEC-WA), Member
  • Geotechnical Business Association, Member, Co-chair of Legal Affairs Committee
  • ACE Mentor Program of America, Member, Board of Directors

Publications/Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, "Contracts and Risk Management for Design Professionals," Geoprofessional Business Association Presentation (April 2018)
  • Speaker, "Controversial Projects/Controversial Clients – Managing Risk," Geotechnical Business Association Presentation (October 2016)
  • Speaker, "Controversial Client/Controversial Projects" Geoprofessional Business Association Presentation (September 2016)
  • Speaker, "Differing Site Conditions," Design Build Institute of America Presentation (May 2015)
  • Speaker, "Indemnity Clauses: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," ASFE Presentation (April 2014)
  • Speaker, "Case Studies on Site Safety Issues in Construction," ACEC-WA Presentation (January 2014)
  • Speaker, "Differing Site Conditions," Design-Build Institute of America Presentation (May 2013)
  • Speaker, "Case Studies on Site Safety Issues in Construction," ASFE Presentation (April 2013)
  • Speaker, "Indemnity Clauses: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly," ASFE Presentation (April 2013)
  • Speaker, "A Primer on Contracting Principles, Do's and Don'ts for Design Professionals," Society for Design Professional Administration Presentation (February 2013)
  • Speaker, "Indemnity Clauses: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," ACEC-WA and ACEC-OR Presentation (June 2012)
  • Author, "Limitation of Liability Clauses: Contracting Issues," ACEC-WA Presentation (April 2012)
  • Speaker, "The Michaels Case: A Double Blow to Design Professional Immunity and the Standard of Care in Washington," Geoprofessional Business Association, ACEC-WA, ASCE-WA, APWA Presentation (January-February 2012)
  • Speaker, "Shifting Sands Beneath the Economic Loss Doctrine," ACEC-WA Presentation (January-February 2012)
  • Author, "The Death of the Economic Loss Doctrine; How the Independent Duty Doctrine Creates Uncertainty for Design Professionals" (August 2011)
  • Speaker, "Deposition Preparation for Engineers," ASFE Presentation (April 2009)
  • Co-Author, "The Design Professional and Tort Liability, Design Professional and Construction Manager Law," ABA Publication (2009)
  • Co-Author, "Design Professionals and Underground Utilities" (February 2003)
  • Author, "Economic Loss Doctrine and Design Professionals: Recent Trends and Developments" White Paper (September 2001, updated: 2004, 2009, 2016)