Law Seminars International Presents:

A two-day timely update on

Landslides in Washington

Litigation, science, legal and policy developments

March 2 & 3, 2017

Seattle, WA

Download PDF Brochure
Seattle - WA


Who Should Order

Attorneys, environmental, land use and real estate professionals, agency officials and landowners

Why You Should Order

Washington's steep terrain and hillsides are naturally prone to landslides and it is well established that human activity, including forest practices, road-building, and development, have the potential in certain places to increase the risk. Changing precipitation patterns due to climate change also can have an impact.

In March 2014, a glacial deep-seated landslide struck the Steelhead Haven community near Oso, Washington, killing 43 people. Among our chief goals for the 2017 Landslide Conference is to understand as much as possible about the Oso landslide. We are honored that Dr. David Montgomery, a world-respected geomorphologist at the University of Washington and who participated in the GEER research team on site, will join us to provide an objective technical assessment of the landslide.

Our Conference also seeks to shed light on how the civil trial played out. How did the parties obtain and work with their expert witnesses to develop their theories of the case? What constraints did civil tort and governmental liability place on the parties as they proceeded to prosecute and defend their cases? And, what led to the historic million-dollar fine levied against the Washington Attorney General's office for discovery violations?

We also provide a top-notch faculty to explore the ways in which experts can use high-tech tools to screen for potentially dangerous landforms and we confront the difficult decisions regulators must make to evaluate risks and probabilities.

The 2017 Landslide Conference is going to be informative, exciting, and interesting. Lawyers, scientists, and experts from all "sides" are coming together to better-understand what we did right, what we did wrong, and what we could do better to protect the public and the environment from future landslides.

Please join us!

~ David A. Bricklin, Esq. of Bricklin Newman LLP and Peter Goldman, Esq. of Washington Forest Law Center and Duncan E. Manville, Esq. of Savitt Bruce & Willey LLP, Program Co-Chairs

What You Will Learn

  • The current best available science for identifying problematic Landforms
  • David Montgomery: Special technical address on the Oso Landslide
  • Overview of legal theories and strategies for landslide litigation
  • Oso as a litigation case study: How the issues played out from the parties' perspectives
  • Oso as a public relations case study
  • Landslide risk assessment looking forward
  • Hilary Franz: Special policy address on reducing risk in the forested environment
  • Regulatory takings issues
  • Ethical duties for lawyers working with expert witnesses

What Attendees Said

  • "One of the better ones I've had; getting the science in there was really beneficial."
  • "Great interaction of lawyers and practitioners on important topics."

Agenda Day 1

Thursday, March 02, 2017

8:00 am

Registration Opens

8:30 am

Introduction & Overview

David A. Bricklin, Esq. , Program Co-Chair
Bricklin Newman LLP / Seattle, WA

Peter Goldman, Esq. , Program Co-Chair, Director and Managing Attorney
Washington Forest Law Center / Seattle, WA

Duncan E. Manville, Esq. , Program Co-Chair
Savitt Bruce & Willey LLP / Seattle, WA

8:45 am

The Current Best Available Science for Identifying Problematic Landforms

Technical tools for remote assessment: Case study of using GIS to screen timber sales for WFLC to assess potential landslide cases with LIDAR, Slopestab, and Hazzone using databases available to the public

Kara A. Whittaker, Ph.D. , Senior Scientist and Policy Analyst
Washington Forest Law Center / Seattle, WA

Local government use of scientific tools to identify potential hazardous areas: The methodologies used for development of new landslide hazard maps along the river corridors in King County; tips for accessing and effectively using the new resource online

John Bethel , KC FCD Landslide Hazard Mapping Team
King County River & Floodplain Management Section / Seattle, WA

Sevin Bilir , KC FCD Landslide Hazard Mapping Team
King County Science & Technical Support Section / Seattle, WA

The inherent uncertainty in using statistical tools to assist in developing policies: How should policy makers approach and communicate the inherent uncertainty in the data in assessing risk?

Dan P. McShane , Engineering Geologist
Stratum Group / Bellingham, WA

10:30 am


10:45 am

Landslide Litigation: The Legal Theories and Strategies

Duncan E. Manville, Esq. , Program Co-Chair
Savitt Bruce & Willey LLP / Seattle, WA

11:15 am

Special Address on the Oso Landslide

What happened and have lessons really been learned?

David Montgomery , Professor, Earth and Space Sciences
University of Washington / Seattle, WA

12:00 pm

Lunch (on your own)

1:15 pm

Oso as a Litigation Case Study: Theories, Evidence, and Arguments

Plaintiff and defense theories, evidence, and arguments: How the issues played out from the parties' perspective

David A. Bricklin, Esq. , Program Co-Chair, Moderator
Bricklin Newman LLP / Seattle, WA

Corrie Johnson Yackulic, Esq.
Corrie Yackulic Law Firm PLLC / Seattle, WA

Karen A. Willie, Esq.
Law Offices of Karen A. Willie PLLC / Seattle, WA

Timothy George Leyh, Esq. , Managing Partner
Harrigan Leyh Farmer & Thomsen LLP / Seattle, WA

Elaine L. Spencer, Esq.
Miller Nash Graham & Dunn PC / Seattle, WA

3:15 pm


3:30 pm

Oso as a Public Relations Case Study

Big events as a springboard for gaining broader support for environmental protections; potential for follow up legislative action

Peter Goldman, Esq. , Program Co-Chair
Washington Forest Law Center / Seattle, WA

Lessons with respect to how government needs to comport itself when communicating with the public

David N. Bruce, Esq.
Savitt Bruce & Willey LLP / Seattle, WA

Tips for handling PR from a news reporting perspective

Hal Bernton , Reporter
Seattle Times / Seattle, WA

5:00 pm

Continue the Exchange of Ideas: Reception for Faculty and Attendees

Sponsored by Savitt Bruce & Willey LLP

Agenda Day 2

Friday, March 03, 2017

8:30 am

Risk Assessment Looking Forward

Changing precipitation patterns, receding glaciers and other potentially dangerous landforms: What changes need to be made to substantive regulations after Oso?

Dan Miller, Ph.D.
Earth Systems Institute / Seattle, WA

9:15 am

Reducing Risk of Landslides in the Forested Environment

Current developments in the science and rules governing logging on potentially unstable slopes

Chris Mendoza , Principal
Mendoza Environmental, LLC / Olympia, WA

10:00 am


10:15 am

Regulatory Takings Issues

Reasonable use exceptions; processes for showing that a specific proposed use is safe; tips for developers seeking project approval on the urban fringe

Duncan M. Greene, Esq.
Van Ness Feldman LLP / Seattle, WA

11:00 am

Ethical Duties for Lawyers Working with Expert Witnesses

Post-op on the ethical issues in the Oso case: Expert witness practice; spoliation issues; tips for how to avoid similar problems

Duncan E. Manville, Esq. , Moderator
Savitt Bruce & Willey LLP / Seattle, WA

Emily Brubaker Harris, Esq.
Corr Cronin Michelson Baumgardner Fogg & Moore LLP / Seattle, WA

Brandi Buehn Balanda
Savitt Bruce & Willey LLP / Seattle, WA

12:00 pm

Evaluations and Adjourn

Faculty Bios

David A. Bricklin, David A. Bricklin, Program Co-Chair, partner, Bricklin & Newman LLP, has extensive litigation experience representing environmental groups, individuals, municipalities, and Tribes in a wide variety of environmental, land use, and condemnation matters.

Peter Goldman, Peter Goldman, Program Co-Chair, is Director and Managing Attorney, Washington Forest Law Center. Previously he was a Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in the Appellate Division of the King County Prosecutor's office.

Duncan E. Manville, Duncan E. Manville, Program Co-Chair, Of Counsel, Savitt Bruce & Willey LLP, has broad experience handling complex civil litigation matters. Before joining Savitt Bruce & Willey, Duncan was a partner at Riddell Williams and a principal at Rafel Manville.

Hal Bernton Hal Bernton is a reporter for The Seattle Times where he has been involved in regional, military and investigative reporting. Previously he worked for The Oregonian and The Anchorage Daily News, where he was part of a team that won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

John Bethel, a Licensed Geologist and Licensed Engineering Geologist, works in the River and Floodplain Managing Section in the King County Water and Land Resources Division (WLRD) and is part of the KC FCD Landslide Hazard Mapping Team. He provides geomorphic and geotechnical assistance on capital project design, and conducts landslide and channel migration studies.

Sevin Bilir has 20+ years of experience in soil, rock and ground water investigation management and reporting. At King County, she recently worked as project manager and engineering geology support for the King County Landslide Hazard Mapping Study along river corridors and has been supporting the River and Floodplain Management Section. As a member of the Science and Technical Support Section of King County, she provides technical support for King County landfills and wastewater related projects.

David N. Bruce David N. Bruce established Savitt Bruce & Willey LLP with Jim Savitt in 1999. He has 30 years of litigating in the public sector and in private practice including as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Seattle, in the Civil Division, and before that as Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for King County.

Duncan M. Greene is a partner at Van Ness Feldman LLP. He assists private and public clients in a wide range of land development and real property issues and provides strategic advice in planning and permitting large, complex projects in the energy, transportation, and natural resource sectors.

Timothy G. Leyh is Timothy G. Leyh is Managing Partner of Harrigan Leyh Farmer & Thomsen LLP. He currently is leading a team of the firm's lawyers defending Snohomish County in claims arising from the Oso Landslide. The case is pending in the Washington Supreme Court.

Dan McShane is Dan McShane is a senior geologist and the founder of Stratum Group and manages it's geologic and environmental projects. A licensed engineering geologist, he has extensive subsurface soil and groundwater investigation and cleanup experience from small-scale projects to multi-million dollar Superfund Sites.

Dan Miller, Ph.D. is a Geomorphologist with Earth Systems Institute. He has dedicated over two decades to landscape dynamics with M2 Environmental Services and ESI.

David R. Montgom David R. Montgom ery is a Professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington. A recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, his published work includes studies of the role of topsoil in human civilization, the evolution and near-extirpation of salmon, geomorphological processes in mountain drainage basins, the evolution of mountain ranges, and the use of digital topography.

Elaine L. Spencer Elaine L. Spencer is a shareholder at Miller Nasha Graham & Dunn PC. She is a leader in defending the forest industry and has a broad range of trial experience in land use and natural resource issues for a variety of clients..

Kara A. Whittaker is Sen Kara A. Whittaker is Sen ior Scientist and Policy Analyst at the Washington Forest Law Center. She performs spatial and technical analyses on topics ranging from endangered species management to forest certification and geomorphology in support of legal cases and environmental policymaking.

Karen A. Willie, Karen A. Willie, Law Offices of Karen A. Willie PLLC, concentrates her practice on water law, including landslides, floods, dams, drainage problems, riparian rights, sewage back-ups, wetlands, development and storm water.

Corrie J. Yackulic, Cor Corrie J. Yackulic, Cor rie Yackulic Law Firm PLLC, is noted for taking complex cases to trial. Her abilities have yielded results for her clients totaling in the tens of millions of dollars.


Continuing Education Credits

Live credits: This program qualifies for 9.75 Washington CLE credits and 9.75 AICP planner credits. Upon request, we will apply for, or help you apply for, CLE credits in other states and other types of credits.

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