Janissa practices complex civil litigation, including minority shareholder oppression, shareholder derivative, securities, class action, and commercial litigation. She has significant trial experience with commercial cases involving claims of fraud, securities fraud, professional malpractice, consumer protection violations, and breach of contract.
Janissa’s practice also includes trust, estate, and fiduciary duty litigation in which she has represented trustees, charitable and individual beneficiaries, and individual and corporate fiduciaries. She has also litigated property damage and hazardous waste issues in cases involving contaminated sites, including the ASARCO Tacoma Smelter and the Tacoma Landfill Superfund sites, and has obtained favorable settlements for plaintiffs exposed to uncontrolled asbestos releases.
Before entering private practice, Janissa was a law clerk to the Honorable Eugene A. Wright, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and a television news reporter and anchor.
Shareholder and Entity Dispute Litigation
Altman et al. v. Jeffrey Mallett, et al. – Successfully represented minority shareholders of Canadian Baseball League, Inc. in litigation against the company’s largest investor and chairman of the board for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, tortious interference, and conversion. The case settled for confidential sums several months after filing.
Confidential Arbitration – Successfully represented departing owners of three family-owned businesses in arbitration to decide the value of our clients’ share of the companies. The arbitrator ruled for our clients, agreeing with their position that the parties had established a multimillion dollar purchase price for our clients’ interests in the companies. The arbitrator ordered the companies to purchase our clients’ interests for the agreed-upon price.
Enger v. Richards, et al. – Successfully defended former Internet entrepreneur in action seeking multimillion dollar damages relating to the sale of an Internet start-up to InfoSpace, Inc. Obtained summary judgment dismissal of the majority of plaintiff’s claims before trial and obtained a judgment in our client’s favor following trial. The judgment was affirmed in a unanimous opinion by the Washington Court of Appeals. The opinion is available on Westlaw® at 2006 WL 2742513.
Hebner v. Parque, et al. – Successfully represented minority shareholder in shareholder oppression and breach of fiduciary duty case involving company that provided baseball training, fitness and exercise programs and baseball camps. Negotiated a favorable buy-out of client’s interests and a division of equipment and assets a short time after filing the complaint, allowing client to start his own baseball training business.
Leich v. Edwards, et al. – Successfully represented shareholders in shareholder derivative action on claims of corporate mismanagement, conversion, and breach of fiduciary duty. Negotiated a settlement that resulted in a change in corporate ownership and governance with our client receiving a majority interest in the corporation and the ability to appoint a new board member.
Represented minority shareholder in shareholder oppression and breach of fiduciary duty case involving family-owned street cleaning business. Negotiated sale of client’s interest in companies for a substantial sum.
Defended majority shareholder and Seattle-based manufacturing company in minority shareholder oppression action. Negotiated settlement that resulted in our client’s favorable buy-out of minority shareholder’s interest in the company.
Defended majority shareholder of Seattle finishing services company in minority shareholder oppression and wrongful wage withholding litigation. Negotiated settlement that resulted in dismissal of all claims and favorable purchase of minority shareholder’s interest in the company.
Securities Litigation and Arbitration
Confidential Arbitration – Successfully represented 80-year-old widow in securities fraud action against large Midwestern U.S.-based brokerage and investment banking firm. The firm had invested a majority of our client’s retirement funds in risky mortgage-backed securities. Negotiated a settlement before arbitration obtaining the return of the client’s lost investment funds and costs.
In re Washington Mutual Mortgage Backed Securities Litigation – Liaison counsel for a class of more than 700 investors who purchased mortgage-backed securities underwritten and issued by Washington Mutual and its related entities. The investors allege that the defendants violated federal securities laws by misrepresenting the underwriting procedures used to originate the mortgage loan collateral. The case settled shortly before trial.
J.T. Investments, Inc. v. Evergreen State Restaurant Corporation, et al. – Successfully defended general partner and directors of Outback Steakhouse® restaurant franchises from allegations of securities fraud and consumer protection violations in Florida state court. The trial court dismissed all claims and ordered plaintiff to pay our clients’ attorneys’ fees and costs. The Florida appellate court affirmed.
Trimble v. Holmes Harbor Sewer District, et al. – Co-lead and trial counsel in securities fraud class action against 25 defendants relating to the October 2000 fraudulent bond offering by Whidbey Island’s Holmes Harbor Sewer District. Recovered entire lost investment for bondholders who purchased through two broker dealers in California. Recovered 64% of investment for remaining investors. The court’s decision certifying the class is available on Westlaw® at 2003 WL 23100273.
Successfully represented investor in securities fraud and breach of fiduciary duty action against international brokerage and investment banking firm. Negotiated favorable settlement for investor without the need to conduct significant discovery.
Successfully represented investor who had purchased 100% principal protected notes from a major international investment banking firm. Negotiated favorable settlement before arbitration based on claims of securities fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act.
Obtained summary judgment against two companies and their CEO for their sale of unregistered securities to investor in violation of the Washington State Securities Act (the “WSSA”). The court entered final judgment awarding the investor the amount of her lost investment, prejudgment interest, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
Abrahms v. Elanex Pharma (I.O.M.) Ltd., et al. – Obtained summary judgment dismissal of all claims, including allegations of breach of contract and tortious interference, against our client, a former officer of the defendant and several of its sister company defendants.
Evergreen State Restaurant Corp., et al. v. Willett Zevenbergen & Bennett – Successfully represented plaintiffs in breach of contract and accounting malpractice action against accounting firm. The case settled for confidential sums.
Franklin Albano et al. v. Scott Real Estate Investments, Inc. – Represented more than 40 apartment house residents who were exposed to cancer-causing asbestos during extensive renovations to plumbing in their homes. All four defendants settled the case for confidential sums.
Liebsohn v. Knutson et al. – Represented commercial real estate broker in action for unpaid commission on sale of retail shopping center. The case settled resulting in a favorable payment to our client.
Negotiated substantial health care benefit package for a group of more than 50 physicians who had retired from one of Seattle’s preeminent integrated health care services providers. The successful negotiation averted the need for costly and protracted litigation.
Class Action Litigation
Branin et al. v. ASARCO Incorporated – Successfully represented plaintiff classes of renters, property owners, and residents of Ruston, Washington in class action against multinational mining and smelting company for damage caused by arsenic and lead emissions from the former Tacoma Smelter. The case settled for a settlement valued at $67.5 million. The Ninth Circuit decision affirming the trial court’s award of attorneys’ fees to the class is reported at Wing v. ASARCO Incorporated, 114 F.3d 986 (9th Cir. 1997).
Sunshine Properties, et al. v. Port of Bremerton, et al. – Successfully defended residential property owner, national moving company, and software development firm in class action for property damages caused by two landfills. The case settled resulting in no liability for our clients and their recovery of a substantial amount of damages from other defendants.
In re: National Collegiate Athletic Association Student Athlete Concussion Injury Litigation-Single Sport/Single School (Football) – Appointed by the court to serve on the Plaintiffs Steering Committee for this multidistrict litigation, in which Plaintiffs, former college football players, seek damages from the NCAA and numerous athletic conferences, colleges, and universities for personal injuries and other harm resulting from repeated head trauma incurred while playing football.
Trust and Estate Litigation
McAllister v. McAllister, et al. – Represented one of five brothers in complex matter involving two trusts, two estates and a family corporation that operated an orchard in Eastern Washington. Filed a TEDRA action shortly after being retained by our client and, less than two months later, negotiated for our client a very favorable global settlement of the TEDRA action and all other outstanding litigation between our client and his siblings.
Represented personal representative in contentious trust and estate litigation brought by two of his siblings, who were challenging their deceased mother’s estate plan that removed them from her will. The litigation involved will contests, creditor’s claims, and a TEDRA action. After taking the depositions of the two siblings, negotiated a settlement that ended all litigation among the siblings, allowed for the distribution of trust and estate assets, ensured that their mother’s wishes were followed, and required one of the brothers to pay the estate’s attorneys’ fees in defending against his claims.
Obtained declaratory judgment order that our clients were entitled to proceeds of brokerage accounts owned by their deceased mother. The brokerage firm claimed that the account funds were subject to a trust and refused to distribute them to our clients, the beneficiaries and personal representatives of their mother’s estate. Our client’s step-siblings also claimed an interest in the funds. The court rejected the brokerage firm and step-siblings claims and declared that the funds belonged solely to our clients.
Successfully represented estate beneficiaries in several protracted litigation matters regarding the distribution of estate assets.
Negotiated without litigation the resignation and replacement of the trustee of a trust established for a minor beneficiary following concerns regarding the trustee’s management of the trust.
Professional and Community Involvement
King County Bar Association
Washington State Bar Association
American Bar Association (Law Practice Management Section)
U.S. District Court Western District of Washington – Mediator
Families with Children from China – Washington chapter – Former General Counsel
Olympic Music Festival, Former Board Member
Bainbridge Island Youth Soccer Club – Former Team Manager
Recognized as a “Rising Star” in Washington Law & Politics Magazine
Graduate of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy
AV-Peer Review™ Rated in Martindale-Hubbell®
Martindale-Hubbell® Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers™
J.D., magna cum laude and Order of the Coif, Arizona State University College of Law
M.S.J., with honors, Northwestern University
B.A., cum laude, Georgetown University
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit