G. Val Tollefson

G. Val Tollefson

Of Counsel

Phone: (206) 623-1700
Fax: (206) 623-8717
Email: valt@harriganleyh.com

Now of counsel to the firm, Val Tollefson was one of Seattle's top trial lawyers, and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He continues to consult, and to accept selected matters in the areas of complex commercial litigation, aviation, product liability, employment, maritime and insurance litigation. He continues to serve as a mediator and arbitrator.  Since 2014, Val has served on the Bainbridge Island City Council, and currently serves as the Mayor.

During his active career, Val regularly made time for a variety of pro bono matters, including service on the federal Civil Rights Pro Bono Panel. He continues to be active in civic life on Bainbridge Island, where he has chaired the Bainbridge Foundation, the Harbor Commission, and Bainbridge Public Library. He was co-chair of the private fund-raising effort that was instrumental in the creation of Joel Pritchard Park on 50 acres of prime waterfront property. He is the immediate past president of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust, and is active on the board of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial.

(The following is a small but representative list of Val's significant engagements. He would be happy to provide a complete list of significant cases.)

Val was retained to represent the manufacturer of a product which was implicated in a fire that destroyed a Red Lion hotel. After protracted litigation involving multiple defendants and dozens of experts, he was able to resolve the case against his client on favorable terms. He was then promptly retained by one of the remaining defendants to substitute for its counsel, and shortly resolved those claims as well.

He represented Fluke Corporation, when its liability insurer declined coverage in a California malicious prosecution case. An adverse ruling on summary judgment by the trial court was reversed by the Washington Supreme Court in Fluke v. Hartford, 145 Wn.2d 137, 34 P.3d 809 (2001), which affirmed the insurability of punitive damages in Washington.

Val represented Olympic Pipeline Company in a suit arising from an attempt by the City of Seattle to force shut down of a spur line running through the City. He obtained a Preliminary Injunction against the City, and then summary judgment. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the trial court rulings on the basis of federal preemption of pipeline safety regulation.

More generally, he has represented aviation and marine interests in casualty and commercial litigation, and in regulatory and business matters, for over 30 years, during which he has developed a reputation for time and again finding the innovative route to success. In the late 1970s, he pioneered the use of mock juries in complex litigation. His creative use of demonstrative evidence has resulted in favorable verdicts in case after case.

Education

University of Washington
J.D., member, board of editors, Washington Law Review

University of Washington
B.A.



Experience

US Navy pilot
1964 – 1969

USN Reserve
1969 – 1974

Lane Powell
1973 – 1985

Co-founded Danielson Harrigan Leyh & Tollefson
1986

 

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