Celebrating Successes in 2022
Terrell Marshall Law Group wishes you a happy holiday season, and a joyful New Year. We hope you can rest and relax with your family and friends, and that you find health and happiness in 2023.
We would also like to thank our co-counsel, coalition partners, and clients for working with us towards justice in 2022. As the year comes to a close, we’d like to highlight some of our work as we look forward to the New Year.
Holding Big Business Accountable
- Lummi Nation v. Cooke Aquaculture—Terrell Marshall was honored to represent the Lummi Nation on claims arising from the 2017 collapse of Cooke Aquaculture’s Atlantic salmon fish farm, which released over 250,000 nonnative fish into the Salish Sea. After a three-week trial, the jury found that Cooke’s negligence caused the collapse and awarded the Lummi Nation $595,000 for the work it did to clean up Cooke’s mess. The trial team included Toby Marshall, Blythe Chandler, Jennifer Boschen, and our co-counsel at Tebbutt Law.
- Rutter v. Bright Horizons—Bright Horizons contracts with families to provide childcare services. In those contracts, BH includes a provision requiring families to pay a $5,000 penalty if the family hires a childcare worker away from BH. Terrell Marshall recently filed a lawsuit alleging that this penalty amounts to an unlawful non-competition covenant under Washington law, limits the bargaining power of childcare workers, and depresses wages below what they would be absent the provision. Terrell Marshall, along with our co-counsel Towards Justice, brings claims on behalf of former childcare worker Chelsea Rutter and a proposed class of childcare workers for Bright Horizons in Washington.
- Healy v. Milliman, Inc.—Milliman sells consumer reports to life insurance companies. Terrell Marshall together with co-counsel at Francis Mailman & Soumilas certified a class of hundreds of thousands of consumers whose Milliman reports contained inaccurate health care information, violating the FCRA. The team also defeated a Rule 23(f) petition and Milliman’s motion for summary judgment. Terrell Marshall is committed to helping consumers injured by companies who fail to comply with the FCRA.
- Berman v. Freedom Financial, LLC—Freedom Financial used relentless robocalling to sell its debt collection services. This year the Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s decision to deny Freedom’s motion to compel arbitration. Berman et al. v. Freedom Financial et al., 30 F.4th 849 (9th Cir. 2022). Terrell Marshall’s Amanda Steiner wrote the brief, and Matthew Wessler of Gupta Wessler argued before the Ninth Circuit panel.
- McKay v. PEMCO—PEMCO sells homeowner’s insurance policies to thousands of Washington residents. Working with co-counsel at Gatens Green Weidenbach PLLC, Terrell Marshall certified a class of insureds challenging PEMCO’s practice of miscalculating the amounts it is supposed to pay for property losses.
- DeMarre v. Mutual of Enumclaw—Terrell Marshall and our co-counsel have obtained preliminary approval of a $550,000 settlement on behalf of insureds who received inadequate compensation for their totaled vehicles.
- Landlord Litigation—Terrell Marshall and our co-counsel obtained final approval of a $1 million settlement for tenants charged unfair lease termination, lock change, and utility fees by their landlord. We are litigating similar cases against other Seattle landlords.
- Wage and Hour Matters—Terrell Marshall’s practice continues to seek compensation for employees who were not paid for all hours worked, did not receive the rest and meal breaks to which they were entitled, or were denied overtime compensation. In 2022, we settled several cases on behalf of classes of Washington workers, including a $1.5 million dollar settlement on behalf of dump truck drivers, a $1 million dollar settlement on behalf of therapists and therapy assistants at rehabilitation facilities, and a $500,000 settlement on behalf of hospital workers. We also certified a class action on behalf of hundreds of workers, many of them immigrants, against fish processing companies that failed to pay adequate wages for periods of employer-required quarantine and failed to timely pay wages owed.
- Gig Economy/Mass Arbitration Matters—Terrell Marshall continues to work with the Gibbs Law Group to represent thousands of shoppers and delivery drivers deprived of wages as a result of being misclassified as independent contractors. Terrell Marshall and Gibbs represent these workers in individual arbitrations because gig economy workers are routinely required to agree to arbitration provisions and class action waivers as a condition of their employment.
Protecting Civil Rights
- Brown v. Lexington County—For more than five years, Terrell Marshall has been prosecuting this civil rights class action with the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of South Carolina. In September 2022, after the close of discovery, a South Carolina federal judge found that our team amassed “undisputed evidence” showing “Lexington County has engaged in policies, procedures, and customs that cause systemic deficiencies in funding, staffing, and assignment of cases to public defenders with the result that indigent people in the [County’s magistrate courts] are deprived of court-appointed counsel.” In the following months, we secured a settlement that obligates Lexington County to more than triple the funding it provides for public defense in magistrate courts, which will pay for additional attorneys, a paralegal, an investigator, an administrative assistant, and a social worker. The settlement is currently pending court approval.
- Ellis v. University of Washington Police Department—Since 2021, along with co-counsel at Nelson Boyd PLLC, Terrell Marshall has been representing five unranked Black officers in the UW police department seeking justice for years of racial and sexual discrimination and harassment they faced and continue to confront on the force. This year, we won several litigated discovery disputes, including successfully defending on appeal an order compelling certain police officers to submit their cell phones for forensic search.
Challenging Unfair Financial Practices
- Proudlove v. Seed Capital—Seed Capital charged consumers an average of $3,000 in fees for a service known as credit card stacking—that means filling out 6-10 free consumer credit card applications at once. Consumers signed up for Seed’s service at seminars promising success in real estate, online investing, or online sales if consumers signed up for expensive training courses. The multiple credit cards Seed obtained for consumers were often maxed out to pay the hefty fees for useless training. After the court certified a litigation class of 500 Washington consumers and ruled on summary judgment motions, the case settled on the eve of trial for $1,575,000.
- Nelipa v. TD Bank—Terrell Marshall is working to hold banks accountable for failing to protect their customers from fraud losses. In many circumstances federal law requires banks to reimburse customers for fraudulent withdrawals from their accounts. In multiple cases across the country, including this one against TD Bank, we are pursuing class actions on behalf of mistreated customers with co-counsel at the Schlanger Law Group LLP.
- Alternative Loan Product Matters—Terrell Marshall represents a proposed class challenging alternative home loan products that are effectively reverse or second mortgages but are marketed by the lender as “not a loan” to avoid regulation, including caps on interest. Terrell Marshall also represents a proposed class challenging modern day indentured servitude packaged as “Income Share Agreements.” ISAs are an alternative to loans used to finance online training and other forms of non-college education. Unfortunately, such programs often fail to deliver on their promises of a lucrative career, leaving young consumers paying a percentage of their wages each month to the company holding their ISA.
Amicus Curiae and Appeals
- Terrell Marshall authored an amicus brief on behalf of the Northwest Consumer Law Center arguing that there is no good faith defense to a per se violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act. The Ninth Circuit adopted that position in Ten Bridges, LLC v. Midas Mulligan, LLC, 2022 WL 17039001 (9th Cir. Nov. 17, 2022).
- Together with co-counsel, Terrell Marshall authored an amicus brief on behalf of employee and consumer rights organizations addressing non-signatory enforcement of mandatory arbitration clauses in Spadoni v. Microsoft Corp., which is currently pending before the Washington Supreme Court.
- We authored an amicus brief on behalf of law professors addressing Washington choice of law principles in Erickson v. Pharmacia, LLC, which is currently pending before the Washington Court of Appeals.
Terrell Marshall proudly supports and partners with organizations like Public Justice, ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Fair Work Center, Working Washington, National Consumer Law Center, NW Consumer Law Center, Towards Justice, Unemployment Law Project, Consumer Federation of America, Public Citizen, and Make the Road New York. We look forward to continuing to partner with you to protect workers, consumers, and other individuals and groups whose rights have been violated.