Katherine Steele has dedicated almost her entire practice to defending small to mid-size companies repeatedly impacted by asbestos litigation and toxic tort claims. She represents construction contractors, owners, engineers, manufacturers, suppliers, and other businesses implicated in lawsuits related to product liability, construction defect, personal injury, and wrongful death. Clients appreciate her high level of experience, knowledge, and creativity in handling cases to protect their interests.
For nearly 20 years, Katherine served as National Asbestos Coordinating Counsel for the former Northwest Manville contractor and distributor, The E.J. Bartells Co. until its successful reorganization in 2001. During that time, Katherine developed and implemented strategy resulting in defense verdicts in 75% of the cases tried, smaller increases in filings, and lower settlement averages than similar asbestos defendants. The plaintiff verdicts all resulted in low verdicts, small fault allocation compared to co-defendants, and no punitive awards. Katherine brings a wealth of knowledge on the history of the industry across Oregon and Washington between the 1950s and 70s and knows where to look back into those times to determine if a claim is valid.
- Washington, 1981
- Oregon, 2003
- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Washington
- U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington
- U.S. District Court, District of Oregon
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
- University of Washington, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs – L.L.M., 1982
- Willamette University, College of Law – J.D., 1981
- University of Oregon, Robert D. Clark Honors College – B.A., 1978
- Counsel for distributor class representative in the first major asbestos bankruptcy, In re Johns-Manville 982 F.2d. 721. Obtained indemnity payment and rights to future indemnity payments.
- Expert regarding Contractor’s Statute of Repose. Obtained Ninth Circuit decision upholding the statute in Oregon. Multnomah County Sch. Dist. 1J v. ACandS, Fibreboard et al., 5 F.3d 1255 (9th Cir. 1993), cert. denied 114 S.Ct. 2742 (1994); 767 F.Supp. 1051 (1991); 139 F.R.D. 164 (1991) (multimillion-dollar asbestos property claims dismissed in Oregon).
- Led discovery and pleading effort leading to dismissal of unimpaired screening cases in Washington. Chaired defense committee which obtained one of the first orders prioritizing cases for trial based upon medical criteria.
- Obtained rulings applying the statute of limitations to much of the damages sought by the state in Washington ex rel actions to recover on the lien for worker’s compensation benefits. While limited to Washington, this ruling is striking in that the decision was based upon public policy, not case law.
NORTHWEST NATURE AND CUISINE ENTHUSIAST
Katherine lives in Seattle with her husband, Steve. She’s a beginner bird watcher and for many years she was a beekeeper with her own hives of honeybees. As an avid cook, Katherine looks forward to creating fun and inventive new recipes. But she also enjoys exploring the food scene and various restaurants in Seattle and sampling local cuisine and specialties when she travels.