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Overview

Tom Ahearne has over 30 years of trial court and appellate experience. His practice focuses on two distinct areas:  (1) representing policyholders & claimants against insurance companies, and (2) representing litigants in high profile constitutional, statutory, and election related lawsuits.

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 & industry association conferences, and was named Seattle’s insurance coverage “Lawyer of the Year” by 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 decided by 133 votes out of over 2.8 million, (c) ballot title & certification challenges including I-1000, R-88, I-933, I-895, I-892, I-885, I-884, I-864, & I-860, (d) Public Records Act suits such as those 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.

Professional Activities

  • Elected at-large member of Appellate Section Executive Committee, King County Bar Association (KCBA)
  • Elected Board member of Washington Counsel Of School Attorneys (COSA)
  • Washington Defense Trial Lawyers member (WDTL)
  • Washington State Association of Municipal Attorneys member (WSAMA)
  • Risk and Insurance Management Society member (RIMS)
  • Washington State Bar Association, Litigation Section member
  • Federal Bar Association member
  • American Bar Association, Litigation Section & Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee member
  • King County Bar Association, Judicial Screening Committee member (2003-2009)
  • King County Prosecutor's Office, Special Deputy Prosecutor, Felony Drug Task Force member (1990-1991)

Community 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 State 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)

Experience

Experience

Some Examples of Constitutional, Statutory Rights, & Election Law Cases

  • McCleary v. State (action to enforce State Constitution's public education clause), 173 Wn.2d 477, ensuing 2012-2018 enforcement proceedings posted on the Supreme Court’s website at McCleary Orders & briefing (King County Superior Court & Washington Supreme Court)
  • In re Special Election on Moses Lake School District No. 161 Proposition 1, (representing School District in successful defense of school bond measure that passed by 3 votes), 2 Wn.App.2d 689 (Grant County Superior Court & Washington Court of Appeals)
  • Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party, et al., (representing Washington State Grange in the ultimately successful defense of its Top-Two Primary Initiative Measure against First Amendment “facial” challenges by the Democrat, Republican, & Libertarian parties), 552 U.S. 442, reversing 460 F.3d 1108 & 377 F.Supp.2d 907 (U.S. Supreme Court, 9th Circuit, & W.D.Wash.)
  • Washington State Democratic Party v. Washington State Grange, (representing defendant Grange in successfully obtaining dismissal of political parties’ “as applied” challenges to the constitutionality of the Grange’s Top-Two Primary Initiative), 676 F.3d 784, cert. denied 133 S.Ct. 110 (U.S. Supreme Court, 9th Circuit, & W.D.Wash.)
  • Jane Doe v. City of Lake Stevens, (securing TRO, preliminary injunction, & permanent injunction against government agency’s public release of photographs of crime victim under Public Records Act) (Snohomish County Superior Court)
  • Jane Does v. King County, (TRO & injunction proceedings to block government agency’s public release of video of Seattle Pacific University shooting victim under Public Records Act), 192 Wn.App. 10 (King County Superior Court & Washington Court of Appeals)
  • Jane Doe v. City of Everett, et al., (TRO & injunction proceedings to block government agency’s public release of Marysville Pilchuck High School shooting witness’s cellphone data under Public Records Act) (Snohomish County Superior Court & Washington Court of Appeals)
  • Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance v. City of Bainbridge Island, (defending validity of municipal bonds), 158 Wn.App. 1051, 2010 WL 4962942 (Kitsap County Superior Court & Washington Court of Appeals)
  • Borders, et al. v. King County, et al. (representing defendant Secretary of State in Republicans’ trial to overturn the 2004 Governor's election decided by 133 votes out of over 2.8 million cast) (Chelan County Superior Court)
  • Republican Party v. King County, et al., (representing defendant Secretary of State in Republicans’ emergency injunction action concerning hand recounts in the 2004 Governor's election), 153 Wn.2d 220 (Pierce County Superior Court & Washington Supreme Court)
  • McDonald et al. v. Reed, et al., (representing defendant Secretary of State in Democrats’ expedited Supreme Court suit over hand recounts in the 2004 Governor's election),153 Wn.2d 201 (Washington Supreme Court)
  • Republican Party v. King County, et al., (representing defendant Secretary of State in Republicans’ emergency weekend TRO action concerning machine recounts in the 2004 Governor's election) (W.D.Wash.)
  • In re Coday, (representing defendant Secretary of State in original jurisdiction Supreme Court action relating to Governor’s election contest petitions), 156 Wn.2d 485, cert. denied, 127 S.Ct. 444 (U.S. Supreme Court & Washington Supreme Court).
  • Senator Brown v. Lieutenant Governor Owen, (original jurisdiction Supreme Court mandamus action to enforce State constitution’s majority-vote provision), 165 Wn.2d 706 (Washington Supreme Court)
  • Pierce County v. State II, (class refunds & constitutional contracts clause litigation), 159 Wn.2d 16 (King County Superior Court & Washington Supreme Court)
  • Brown v. State, (action to enforce State Constitution & portions of Initiative 732),155 Wn.2d 254 (King County Superior Court & Washington Supreme Court)
  • McGowan, et al. v. State, (action to enforce portions of Initiative 732), 148 Wn.2d 278 (Thurston County Superior Court & Washington Supreme Court)
  • Washington Association of Neighborhood Stores v. State, (representing Initiative sponsor defending constitutional challenge to Initiative 773), 149 Wn.2d 359 (Thurston County Superior Court & Washington Supreme Court)
  • City of Burien, et al. v. Kiga, et al., (representing plaintiffs in constitutional challenge invalidating Initiative 722) 144 Wn.2d 819 (Thurston, King, Kitsap, Spokane, & Skagit County Superior Courts and Washington Supreme Court)
  • Governor Locke, et al. v. Reed, et al., (representing Governor in Supreme Court original jurisdiction action concerning referendum measures and veto power) (Washington Supreme Court #75392-0)
  • Pierce County, et al. v. State I, (representing plaintiffs in constitutional challenge to Initiative 776), 150 Wn.2d 422 (King County Superior Court & Washington Supreme Court)
  • Amalgamated Transit Union, et al. v. State, (representing plaintiffs in constitutional challenge invalidating Initiative 695), 142 Wn.2d 183 (King, Thurston, & Yakima County Superior Courts and Washington Supreme Court)
  • City of Seattle, et al. v. "Save Our Schools" Initiative Committee, et al., (representing Seattle in defense of pre-election challenge to City Initiative 34), 779 P.2d 726 (King County Superior Court & Washington Supreme Court)
  • Tacoma Narrows Constructors v. Nippon Steel-Kawada Bridge, (enforceability of arbitration clause under international treaty), 138 Wn.App. 203, 163 Wn.2d 1011 (Thurston County Superior Court, Court of Appeals, & Washington Supreme Court)
  • Alaska Protein Recovery v. Puretek Corp., (successfully enforcing arbitration rights under the Federal Arbitration Act), 2014 WL 2011235 (W.D. Wash.)
  • 1000 Virginia Ltd. Partnership v. Vertec, (interpretation & application of construction claim statute), 158 Wn.2d 566 (King County Superior Court & Washington Supreme Court)
  • Ballard Square Condominium Owners v. Dynasty Construction, (interpretation & application of corporate dissolution statutes), 158 Wn.2d 603 (King County Superior Court & Washington Supreme Court)
  • Satomi Owners Association v. Satomi LLC, (action to enforce arbitration clause under U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause), 167 Wn.2d 781 (King County Superior Court, Court of Appeals, & Washington Supreme Court)
  • Wishart, et al. v. Clallam County Housing Authority, et al., (defending housing authority against statutory challenge to public housing construction) (Clallam County Superior Court & Washington Court of Appeals)
  • Bonjorni v. City of Auburn, (defending city against constitutional & statutory challenges to its municipal court system), 93 Wn.App. 1002, 1998 WL 781152 (King County Superior Court, Washington Court of Appeals, & Washington Supreme Court)
  • Pierce County Housing Authority v. Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, et al., (representing housing authority in overturning Washington Utility & Transportation Commission’s statutory interpretation) 86 Wn.App. 138, 131 Wn.2d 1012 (Pierce County Superior Court, Washington Court of Appeals, & Washington Supreme Court)
  • Concerned Citizens, et al. v. AHS Joint Operating Board, et al., (defending municipal Joint Operating Agency against constitutional, statutory, & common law challenges to its operations) 78 Wn.App. 333, 127 Wn.2d 1024 (Skagit County Superior Court, Washington Court of Appeals, & Washington Supreme Court)
  • Wright, et al. v. King County, et al., (defeating TRO claim against County’s land use decision), 77 Wn.App. 1074 (King County Superior Court & Washington Court of Appeals)
  • Kendall, et al. v. Public Hospital District No 6, (defending hospital district against statutory & constitutional challenges to the legality of its operations), 118 Wn.2d 1 (Grant County Superior Court & Washington Supreme Court)

Some Examples of Insurance Coverage Cases

  • No Boundaries Ltd. v. Pacific Indemnity Co. [Chubb] (defeating insurance company’s interpretation of its policy’s code upgrade coverage), 160 Wn.App. 951 (King County Superior Court & Washington Court of Appeals)
  • Commonwealth Insurance Company v. Grays Harbor County, (defeating insurance company’s interpretation of its policy’s code upgrade and earthquake coverage for historic building), 120 Wn.App. 232 (Pacific County Superior Court & Washington Court of Appeals)
  • Pinnacle Realty v. General Security Insurance Company, (defeating insurance company’s interpretation of its policy’s coverage for punitive damages), (St. Louis Circuit Court & Missouri Court of Appeals; King County Superior Court & Washington Court of Appeals)
  • Intracorp Real Estate LLC v. USI, et al., (representing policyholder in combined insurance policy reformation / broker malpractice action), (King County Superior Court)
  • American Hardware Insurance Group v. West One Automotive, (defense against insurance company’s interpretation of its policy’s coverage for employment discrimination), 167 Ore.App. 244 (Klamath County Circuit Court & Oregon Court of Appeals)
  • Wellbrock v. Assurance Company of America, (representing insurance claimant in wrongful death coverage action), 90 Wn.App. 234 (King County Superior Court & Washington Court of Appeals)
  • Mercer International v. USF&G, (defeating insurance company’s interpretation of its policy’s coverage for fire damage to residential complex), 938 F.Supp. 680, 189 F.3d 473, 1999 WL 594813 (W.D. Wash. & 9th Cir.)
  • McRory v. Catlin Specialty Ins. Co., (contesting coverage denial under Directors & Officers policy), 511 Fed.Appx. 632 (W.D. Wash. & 9th Cir.)
  • Wright v. Safeco Ins. Co., (contesting coverage denial under property policy), 124 Wn.App. 263 (King County Superior Court & Washington Court of Appeals)
  • Allstate Ins. Co. v. Forest Lynn Homeowners Association, (contesting coverage denial for rot damage), 914 F.Supp. 408 (W.D. Wash.)

News & Insights

News & Insights

Some Examples of Legal Education Presentations on Constitutional, Statutory, & Elections Issues

  • Public Disclosure Commission Standards for Permissible Political Activity” (Law Seminars International, 2019)
  • First Amendment: Free Speech in School District Elections” (Washington State Council of School Attorneys Spring Workshop, 2018)
  • "Remedies & Compliance in School Funding Litigation" (national Education Law Center litigators' workshop, Los Angeles, 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 Law Center litigators' workshop, New York City, 2017)
  • Litigating State Constitutional Issues” (national Federalist Society Conference, Reagan Presidential Library, California, 2017)
  • School Funding Litigation Under State Constitutional Provisions” (national Education Law Center litigators' workshop, Los Angeles, 2016)
  • School Funding Causes of Action, Evidence, and Trial Strategies” (national Education Law Center 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)

Some Examples of Legal Education Presentations on Insurance Coverage Issues

  • Insurance Coverage Update” (Washington Defense Trial Lawyers conference, 2019)
  • 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 conference, 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 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 conference, 1996)

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)

Education

  • University of Chicago, J.D. with honors (1984)
  • University of Notre Dame, B.A., Economics, magna cum laude (1981)

Honors & Recognition

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