Thomas F. Ahearne

Thomas F. Ahearne

Tom Ahearne has over 30 years of trial court and appellate experience.  His practice focuses on two distinct areas: (1) representing policyholders & claimants in insurance coverage disputes, and (2) representing litigants in lawsuits involving constitutional law, statutory rights, and election issues.

Insurance Coverage:  Tom’s been successfully representing insureds and claimants in a wide array of state and federal court coverage suits since the 1980s. He’s a frequent speaker on insurance coverage at legal education seminars and association conferences, and was named Seattle’s insurance coverage “Lawyer of the Year” in the Best Lawyers® 2011 Insurance Law.

Constitutional Law, Statutory Rights, & Elections:  Tom’s experience over the past three decades includes (a) constitutional compliance suits such as the McCleary school funding litigation, (b) election disputes such as the series of state & federal lawsuits over the Rossi/Gregoire Governor’s race, (c) ballot title challenges including I-933, I-895, I-892, I-885, I-884, I-864, & I-860, (d) Public Records Act suits arising out of the Marysville Pilchuck High School & Seattle Pacific University shootings, and (e) suits over the validity of statutes & initiatives such as Washington’s Top-Two primary system and various Tim Eyman ballot measures.



Law Related Activities

Washington Defense Trial Lawyers (WDTL) 

Washington State Association of Municipal Attorneys (WSAMA)

Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) 

King County Bar Association, Judicial Screening Committee (2003-2009)

Washington State Bar Association, Litigation Section

Federal Bar Association

American Bar Association, Litigation Section & Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee

King County Prosecutor's Office, Special Deputy Prosecutor, Felony Drug Task Force (1990-1991)

Non-Law Activities

Washington State Bowhunters, Member (2002-February 11, 2014)

Washington Motorcycle Road Racing Association (WMRRA), 600cc Racer (2009-February 11, 2014)

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Life Member (2001-death)

Bainbridge Island Football Club [a/k/a “Soccer”], Board Member & Secretary (2009-2013)

Washington Hillary Clinton delegate, Democratic National Convention, Denver, Colorado (2008)

Bainbridge Island Planning Commission, Commissioner (1994-1997)

United Way of King County, Literacy and Employment Funding Review Panel, Member (1993-1996)

Bainbridge Island Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee, Member (1992-1994)

Bainbridge Island Transportation Planning Committee, Chair (1991-1992)

Notre Dame Alumni Club of Western Washington, Secretary & Newsletter Editor (1987-1994)


Examples of Legal Education Presentations on Constitutional, Statutory, & Election Issues

First Amendment: Free Speech in School District Elections 

Washington State Council of School Attorneys Spring Workshop, 2018

Public Disclosure Act & Privilege Ethics: Common Interest, Joint Defense, Client Confidences, Attorney-Client Communications, Work Product, and Deliberative Process 

Law Seminars International, 2018

School Funding Litigation Remedies 

National education litigators workshop, New York City, 2017

Litigating State Constitutional Issues 

Federalist Society Conference, Reagan Presidential Library, California, 2017

School Funding Litigation Under State Constitutional Provisions

National education litigators workshop, Los Angeles, 2016

School Funding Causes of Action, Evidence, and Trial Strategies 

National education litigators workshop, New York City, 2015

Public Bidding Procedures and Bid Contests

Lorman Education Services, 2009

Election Law in Washington: Initiatives and Referenda

Lorman Education Services, 2008

Washington Public Bidding Procedures & Bid Contest Law

Lorman Education Services, 2008

Constitution & Education Funding Litigation

Full Funding Coalition Seminar, Senate Office Building, Olympia, Washington, 2007

Public Works Construction: New & Dramatic Legal Changes in Washington

Lorman Educational Services, 2006

Election Law in Washington

Northwest Legal Foundation, 2005

Where's My Vote? Lessons Learned From Washington's Gubernatorial Election

Seattle University Law School symposium, 2005

Examples of Legal Education Presentations on Insurance Coverage Issues

Top Ten Insurance Coverage Traps To Avoid

FP Insurance Seminar, 2018

Details Of Washington Bad Faith Law

National Business Institute, 2017

Washington Insurance Law On Interpreting The Policy Language At Issue In A Bad Faith Case

National Business Institute, 2017

Insurance Coverage Legal Update

FP Insurance Seminar, 2017

Construction Law:  What Do You Do To Pursue Insurance Claims?

National Business Institute, 2017

Insurance Bad Faith ‘Set-Up’ in Washington: the Law & the Origin of the Set-Up

National Business Institute, 2016

Insurance Bad Faith ‘Set-Up’ in Washington: Recognize an Unreasonable Third-Party Demand

National Business Institute, 2016

Panel on an Overview of Ethical Rules in Washington as Compared to Oregon, Idaho & Alaska regarding the Insurance Tripartite Relationship

Washington Defense Trial Lawyers, Annual Insurance Law Update, 2015

Insurance Coverage Issues in Public Works Construction, Public Contracts, & Procurement

Lorman Education Services, 2013

Insurance Coverage: Public Ports and Contracting

Washington Public Ports Association, 2012

How to Collect from Someone Else’s Insurance for Just About Anything

Association of Washington Housing Authorities Conference, 2012

Insurance Considerations in the Bidding Process

The Seminar Group, 2012 & 2011

Insurance Coverage and Its Critical Role in Construction Defect Claims

Lorman Education Services, 2011 & 2008

Ethical Considerations in Construction Defect Litigation & Insurance From A to Z

National Business Institute, 2010

Pursuing Insurance Coverage for Construction Defects: Common Pitfalls for Coverage

The Seminar Group, 2011, 2010, 2009, & 2008

Insurance Fair Conduct Act (IFCA)

The Seminar Group, 2009

Insurance Coverage Issues in Public Works Construction

Lorman Education Services, 2009 & 2008

Coverage Disputes & Bad Faith Claims

National Business Institute, 2009

Construction Projects — Insurance Coverages for Construction Defects

Lorman Education Services, 2008

Reducing Project Risks Through Insurance

Lorman Education Services, 2008

Pursuing Insurance Coverage for Construction Defects, Water Intrusion, & Other Calamities

The Seminar Group, 2007

Insurance Coverage & Indemnity Clauses — Ensuring that Someone Else Pays When Things Go Wrong

The Seminar Group, 2007

Myth vs. Reality in the World of Condominiums, Construction Litigation & Insurance Coverage — Traps in the Trenches

FP Real Estate and Land Use Development Seminar, 2007

Construction Defects: Insurance Coverage for Water Intrusion & Other Calamities

National Business Institute, 2006

Insurance Coverage Trends

National Business Institute, 2006

Insurance Law: Third Party Coverage

National Business Institute, 2006

Construction Defects: Water Intrusion Insurance Claims

The Seminar Group, 2005

Water Intrusion & Other Construction Insurance Issues

National Business Institute, 2004

Insurance Coverage Challenges in Washington

National Business Institute, 2004

Water Intrusion and Toxic Mold Claims

Sterling Educational Services, 2004

Insurance Litigation in Washington

National Business Institute, 2003

Solving Water Intrusion & Mold Problems in Washington

Lorman Education Services, 2002

Insurance Protection For Construction Defects, Terrorist Threats, & Other Losses

Evergreen Rural Water Association, 2002

Protections & Limitations Of Home Owner Warranty/Insurance Programs Under Washington Law

Master Builders Association Conference, 2002

Understanding The Insurance Contract & Washington Insurance Coverage Law

National Business Institute, 2002

Construction Defects & Mold Claims: Parties and Insurance Coverage

National Business Institute, 2002

Insurance Law In Washington

National Business Institute, 2001

Getting The Most Insurance Protection For Your Taxpayers

Washington municipal attorney conference, 2000

Recent Collapse Cases & First—Party Property Cases In Washington

Washington Defense Trial Lawyers Association seminar, 1998

Getting The Most Out Of The Insurance The Homeowner Paid For

National Business Institute, 1998

Getting The Most Out Of That Directors And Officers Policy The Company Bought

National Business Institute, 1998

Insurance Coverage For Environmental Pollution Claims: Use Those Old Insurance Policies

Risk Insurance Management Society/RIMS conference, 1996

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Litigation & Dispute ResolutionConstructionConstitutional Law & Statutory RightsInsurance CoverageMunicipal GovernmentPublic Records & Open GovernmentSchool Districts


Tel: 206.447.8934Fax: 206.749.1902


Examples of Recognitions

Washington Super Lawyers – Super Lawyer selection (2000-present)

The Best Lawyers in America© - Insurance Law (2007-present)

Best Lawyers® 2011 Insurance Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Seattle

KING 5 (Seattle) News - “Paralyzed Lawyer Still Standing For Washington Children"  (September 2014) 

KING 5 (Seattle) News - “Lawyer for McCleary Family on Decision"  (June 2018) 

KREM 2 (Spokane) News - “Extended Interview with McCleary Family Lawyer"  (June 2017) 

The Boston Globe – “In Northwest, a question of tax cuts or education”  (November 2015)

Washington Association of Educators of the Talented and Gifted – Distinguished Advocate Award (2015)

KING 5 (Seattle) News – "McCleary Attorney: It's About Time"  (August 2015) 

Publicola at Seattle Met - “Best of Fizz 2014” (December 2014)

KING 5 (Seattle) News - “Inside Politics: McCleary v. the State of Washington” (September 2013)

KING 5 (Seattle) News - “Jean Enersen’s Northwest Newsmakers on King 5” (February 2013)

Washington Super Lawyers - “Paramount Duty - Thomas Ahearne Wins One For Public Education” (2012)

The Super Lawyers Blog – “Thomas Ahearne Scores Win for Education” (January 2012)

Washington State Bar News - “Briefly About: Tom Ahearne” (November 2011)

Seattle Magazine – “2010 Most Influential Lawyer of the Year” (November 2010)

Washington Association of School Administrators “Golden Gavel” Award for outstanding contribution to public education (2010)

KING 5 (Seattle) News - “Update on Terrorism Insurance After 9/11” (2002)

KING 5 (Seattle) News - “Terrorism Insurance After 9/11” (2001)

Martindale-Hubbell AV rating 

Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Delta Phi

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J.D., University of Chicago (with honors), 1984

B.A., University of Notre Dame (magna cum laude), 1981

Bar Admissions

Washington (1984)

U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (1984) 

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Washington (1991)

U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit (1991)

United States Supreme Court (2006)


Foster Pepper PLLC, Equity Member (1993-present), Associate (1986-1992)

U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, Law Clerk to Chief Judge John V. Singleton, Jr. (1984-1986)

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