Betts Patterson Mines

Professional Liability

We defend lawsuits and disciplinary proceedings on behalf of a broad range of professionals including attorneys, real estate brokers and agents, title and escrow companies, CPAs, insurance brokers and agents, and insurance claims handlers.  We also represent nurses, psychologists, dentists and orthodontists, and other non-M.D. medical professionals in both litigation and disciplinary proceedings.  Professional liability claims arise in many substantive areas.  Our firm capabilities in the transactional arena―in particular, real estate, business formation and transactions, and tax and estate planning―are often invaluable to our ability to understand and successfully defend our clients.     

Representative Cases

  • Defended an aircraft insurance broker in a six million dollar malpractice suit.  Plaintiff's aircraft was totaled when an aircraft hangar roof collapsed during an unusual snowstorm and Plaintiff's policy limits were insufficient to satisfy his lease obligation, leading to a multi-million dollar shortfall.  We argued brokers have no duty to determine coverage limits unless paid for that service, and that coverage limits are the exclusive choice of the insured.  The court agreed, dismissing Plaintiff's suit because no special relationship existed and, "[absent a special relationship, an insurance broker has no obligation to recommend liability limits higher than those chosen by the insured." 
  • Defended an attorney in a professional malpractice matter.  Our client, plaintiff’s former attorney, missed the statute of limitations and the plaintiff’s underlying claim was dismissed on summary judgment.  We prevailed on summary judgment as we were able to show the plaintiff discovered or knew of her malpractice claim more than three years before filing suit against her former attorney.
  • Defended an attorney sued for violations of the Real Estate Brokerage Relationship Act, RCW 18.86, and under the Consumer Protection Act, RCW 19.86, for alleged damages arising out of our client’s representation of the plaintiff, as her attorney only, in the negotiation of plaintiff’s property in a short sale.   Summary judgment was granted in favor of our clients, the real estate brokerage firm and the individual real estate broker, based on the fact that neither had engaged in “real estate brokerage” services as defined by statute.
  • Defended a prominent orthodontist in a malpractice case.  Parent of three patients petitioned Dental Quality Assurance Commission to sanction orthodontist for terminating care before her children’s results were "perfect."  We argued orthodontist has no duty to satisfy subjective demands of patients and orthodontist acted appropriately by transferring treatment after patients' parent abused staff.  The Commission found the orthodontist acted appropriately and the case was dismissed.
  • Defended multiple attorney malpractice claims arising out of the plaintiffs’ dissatisfaction with the results of dissolution proceedings.  All have been dismissed, or settled for nominal amounts, on the basis that plaintiffs could not establish that they could have negotiated, or would have been awarded, a larger share of the marital assets.
  • Defended an attorney malpractice claim in which the underlying case was dismissed on summary judgment after our client withdrew from representation.  The malpractice claim was dismissed on summary judgment as plaintiff could not establish a triable issue of fact as to whether we would have prevailed in the action below in the absence of the alleged negligence.
  • Defended a dental clinic against a Consumer Protection Act claim alleging that a prosthedontist utilized “cow bone” instead of human graft substrate during a bone graft prior to placing implants.  The case was dismissed on summary judgment by the trial court.  The Court of Appeals reversed, but the Supreme Court granted discretionary review and reinstated the dismissal, holding that the public interest element of the CPA had not been met.