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Miska the Cat Secures $125,000 Settlement from Bellevue, King County

Posted on: 22 Feb 2022

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON After years of litigation, Possinger Law Group and the Law Offices of Jon M. Zimmerman are pleased to share that we have reached a settlement for our client in Danieli v. King County, et al.. In addition to a $125,000 settlement award, King County and the City of Bellevue have agreed to engage in discussions with Anna Danieli regarding her experience and recommendations for policy improvements. Alongside our client, Possinger Law Group and the Law Offices of Jon M. Zimmerman are dedicated to advocating for positive changes that will prevent others from having the same experiences as Danieli. The Danieli case dates back to 2014, when Bellevue resident Anna Danieli began receiving violation notices against her brown tabby cat, Miska. Among the alleged violations, this house cat had, among other things, been allowed to freely roam through her neighborhood. After dozens of citations and more than $30,000 in fines, Miska’s family sought legal assistance with the Law Offices of Jon M. Zimmerman and Possinger Law Group. Research uncovered numerous issues in King County’s case against Miska, including the fact that one of her neighborhood complainants was also the head of Regional Animal Services of King County (“RASKC”). Danieli’s legal team filed a lawsuit in April 2019 against King County, the City of Bellevue, and various government entities and officials [link article]. The path to a positive outcome in this case has been long and hard-fought, and included a court ruling obtained by Danieli’s lawyers that required Bellevue to change its city code, an appeal effort headed by Marla Zink of Luminata Law, and a detour through the federal court system. Prior to settling, the case was scheduled to be heard in front of the Honorable Timothy Ashcraft in Pierce County Superior Court. Since joining attorney Zimmerman on the case in 2019, attorney Jeffrey Possinger has been able to achieve a number of positive outcomes for his client. When asked about these achievements, Possinger expressed that he is especially proud of successfully arguing for and obtaining a court order that required changes to Bellevue’s City Code, which were implemented in December 2020, changing the way that civil offenses involving animals are heard in Bellevue. “From the onset of this case, more than anything, we have advocated for real change,” Possinger added. “Not every case has wins that are tangible or simple, so achieving something this big for our client and for the Bellevue community as a whole was very rewarding.” Beyond satisfaction for Danieli and her legal team, this win is also meaningful in improving government transparency. “This victory affirms that citizens ought to be able to rely on the laws as written, and not on backroom agreements by politicians,” Attorney Jon Zimmerman notes. The case may have been settled, but concerns raised by Danieli and her team will continue to remain important. “This case exposed how government officials can use their influence and positions to take unjust and unreasonable action against neighbors and other people in their personal lives,” Zimmerman warns. While Danieli and her cat, Miska, appeared to specifically targeted in this case, Zimmerman and Possinger’s discoveries uncovered during litigation suggest that Danieli was not the only citizen subject to government enforcement actions that were taken under the outdated Bellevue Code, and there may be recourse for other citizens that were impacted by the same or similar incidents. “The settlement with our client does not fully address the government defendant’s mistakes here,” Possinger asserts. “We look forward to supporting Ms. Danieli and our community in the future, whenever there is a good fight to fight.” Anna Danieli is represented by Jeffrey Possinger of Possinger Law Group, PLLC and Jon Zimmerman of The Law Offices of Jon M. Zimmerman, PLLC. Media inquiries relating to Danieli’s case should be directed to media-miskalitigation@possingerlaw.com. For all other legal questions or concerns, Possinger and Zimmerman can be reached through their respective websites.

Judge Rules that City of Bellevue Remains Vicariously Liable in Danieli v. King County, et al.

Posted on: 18 Feb 2022

In another major win for their client, the legal team for Anna Danieli has successfully argued that Bellevue’s agreement with King County left them vicariously liable. TACOMA, WASHINGTON Marking another crucial moment in Anna Danieli’s case against King County, the Honorable Timothy Ashcraft of Pierce County Superior Court has ruled that the City of Bellevue can remain liable for allegedly unlawful action taken against Ms. Danieli by King County. In an attempt to remove itself from the case, representatives for the City of Bellevue argued to the court that King County had been responsible for the government action in question, while the City of Bellevue had only been involved tangentially. This was because, in 2016, the City of Bellevue entered into an Interlocal Agreement with King County for Animal Control Cases, granting King County authority for all animal control services in Bellevue. Despite the fact that this agreement was found to be flawed, voiding many of the citations and fines that were issued to Danieli for her cat, Miska, the City of Bellevue still argued that this agreement cleared them of any liability for Danieli’s allegations. In another big win for their client, the legal team for Anna Danieli has successfully argued that Bellevue’s agreement with King County left the City of Bellevue in the position of having to be vicariously liable for King County’s actions. This order is particularly significant during this current stage of the case, because it prevents the City of Bellevue from exiting the case before crucial [trial preparation/mediation efforts]. Danieli and her team are confident that this decision will help achieve a positive outcome in this case. “This decision communicates to the City of Bellevue and King County that this case isn’t just going away,” Attorney Jeffrey Possinger asserts. “Ms. Danieli suffered under the actions of her government defendants, and we are confident that this decision from the court will encourage them to take this case and our client seriously.” Danieli’s case is approaching several crucial deadlines, including a potential trial. Further developments can be found at @possinger_law_group on Instagram, and MiskaTheCat.com. We invite you to stay up-to-date with future case developments by following our firm’s related social media channels (@possinger_law_group on Instagram, and miskathecat.com).

20th Anniversary Reflections with Attorney Jeffrey Possinger

Posted on: 29 Dec 2021

Lawyers can be some of the most impactful individuals that people invite into their lives. These professionals are much more than just legal representatives; they function as advisors in the face of confusion, counselors in the face of hardship, and perhaps most importantly, advocates during life’s most vulnerable and trying moments. Many clients continue to visit the same attorney throughout their lives not out of convenience, but because they have developed a trust and lasting connection with their attorney. This importance of the lawyer-client relationship is not lost on attorney Jeffrey Possinger, founder and managing member of Possinger Law Group, PLLC. Possinger has always been grateful for the connections that his career allowed him to cultivate, but as the year ends and the firm’s 20th anniversary draws to a close, he finds himself reflecting on the perspective that the past two decades have given him on the profession itself, as well as the clientele that he has devoted his career to serving. A lot can change in 20 years, and Jeffrey Possinger knows this better than most. Public opinions have shifted, laws have been changed, and the economy has soared and plummeted numerous times since the firm was founded in 2001. However, the biggest change has likely been the vast expansion of technology that has taken place over the past two decades. Possinger details the ways in which advancements in technology have altered the legal practice. “[Technology] has allowed smaller firms with less overhead to compete with much larger law firms.” Possinger also recalls the early days of his career, watching attentively as the “dot-com bubble” rapidly expanded and then burst. “Seattle was a hotbed of start-up companies that were pursuing the dream that the expanding Internet seemed to offer,” he explains in a recent article, reflecting on the experience of finding a job during a time where the market had very narrow requirements. A lot may have changed since 2001, but Possinger asserts that some things will always stay the same within the legal practice. “Despite changes in the field, wise counsel and human understanding can never be replaced by technology.” Experiencing these developments within his field firsthand has given Jeffrey Possinger a uniquely meaningful perspective on the career, especially in comparison to those just starting out. When asked to give advice to newer generations of lawyers, Possinger had this to say: “Network with intent. Know solidly who you are and what you want. Then, shut up so that you can really listen to others.” Networking isn’t just about meeting other professionals; it is about asking questions, gaining knowledge from others’ experiences, and building relationships. In fact, Possinger knows the importance of maintaining these relationships better than most. “If there is one thing I wish I had done sooner in my career, it would be asking for help from others.” Networking is not only the key to getting ahead in a career; it also can provide unmatched insight into the career itself. Every profession has the capacity of falling into an accepting stereotypes and misconceptions, and lawyers are not immune to this. “One of the biggest misconceptions [about the legal profession] is the idea that attorneys make settlement difficult, and that all they want to do is fight and litigate,” elaborates Possinger. “In 20 years of doing this work, I have found that more often than not, it is the lawyers who are looking for creative ways to get closure for their clients outside of a courtroom.” Every experience is unique, and every attorney has their own perspective on the field. For Jeffrey Possinger, everything comes back to the central theme of connection. The attorney’s affinity for building strong relationships with his clients and colleagues is not only one of his strong suits as an attorney; it is also his biggest motivation in the field of law. “Being a person who can tell another person’s story is the essence of being an advocate, ” he says. “Being the voice of a person who cannot speak for themselves is part of what inspires me in my work – and I look forward to many more years of that kind of inspiration.” If you’d like to learn more about Jeffrey Possinger’s career and legal background, you can find his article detailing the beginnings of Possinger Law Group at this link.

Article: “Maybe a Guy Like You Could Never Work for a Firm Like Ours”

Posted on: 28 Dec 2021

2021 marked the 20th anniversary of Possinger Law Group’s founding. Our law firm and certain members of our community have spent the past 12 months reflecting on those two decades, and what they have meant to us. Our founder, Jeffrey Possinger in particular has used this past year to identify certain themes and recall specific experiences that have influenced him throughout his legal career. This article, written by Possinger, details an experience that not only shaped him as a professional, but also contributed to the founding of Possinger Law Group in 2001. I have told this story a few times to several people over the last twenty years, but with 2021 being the twentieth anniversary of my law firm, it seemed that now would be a good time to share this with a broader audience – perhaps most importantly with law students or young professionals early in their careers. Beginning in my second year of law school, I began the process of informational interviews at different larger law firms around the Seattle area and the Eastside. It was the height of what would become the “dot-com bubble” and Seattle was a hotbed of start-up companies that were pursuing the dream that the expanding Internet seemed to offer. I would send out my résumé and schedule one-on-one meetings with partners and various senior associates, trying to learn all that I could about the firm, while also seeking employment opportunities. Competition for any available positions was fierce, and I was not your typical law student, failing to meet many of the implicit “requirements” for working in one of these firms: Going to a big-name school, being in the top 5% – 10% of the class, or being on Moot Court and Law Review – the list could go on. Even though I eventually graduated with honors from law school, I lacked these expected minimum credentials to even be given the opportunity to interview at one of these firms. The process was as much discouraging as it was exhausting, despite my unflagging ambitiousness. I wanted to work in a firm doing business transactions, and in my mind at the time, this was the only way that I could meet that goal, by working at one of Seattle’s larger law firms. During one of these occasions with a large and well-known firm (whose name I will not disclose), I met with a junior partner (another name that I will not reveal) who worked in mergers and acquisitions. During the interview, we discussed the firm, his area of practice, my aspirations in the field, as well as my experience and work history. As he looked over my résumé, he commented that I was not on Law Review, as well as not being in the top 10% of my class.  It didn’t matter that I demonstrated a strong work ethic, that I had overcome a number of significant obstacles, or that I possessed numerous relatable skills and experiences for the role. Lacking the “requirements”, it seemed clear that I stood no chance at getting a real interview, much less a job offer. Undaunted by this, I asked about other ways to demonstrate my value to a firm like this, or to take steps to be laterally hired. In response, he said to me: “You know, it’s really the case that a guy like you could never work for a firm like ours.” A long and uncomfortable silence followed, as his statement hung in the air. Stunned, I didn’t know what to say. Either realizing the harshness of his delivery, or reading the expression on my face, the silence was finally broken by his attempts to walk back the statement a little and to provide some well-meaning career advice. And yet, he had been speaking truthfully. The interview quickly wrapped up, and I left the Seattle high rise building, clinging tightly to my cheap attaché case along with the last shreds of my dignity. Only a few months after that interview, the dot-com bubble burst. During the period between when I graduated from law school, took the bar exam, and received the notification that I had passed, the entire industry that I had intended to enter and be a part of had imploded. In the six months before I took my bar exam, if you had a pulse, you had a job. Six months afterwards, people who had been with law firms for a decade were scrambling for work, and most were willing to take almost any available positions. That economic tumult was the business environment in which I founded my own law firm – entirely out of necessity. There was huge risk in doing this, but statistically, continuing on the path I had been on (looking for work in one of the larger law firms) was not turning out to be a safe bet either. Almost symbolically, I burned the nearly 2-inch stack of “form-filled” rejection letters I had received from one law firm after the other and set out on my own. Friends and family were some of my first clients, and I took on all sorts of crazy cases just to keep the lights on, nothing I had expected when I had started down the path to a legal career. That was 20 years ago, and a lot has happened since then. Since that time, that conversation with the junior partner has all but been forgotten. Yet, there was a moment just a few years ago that brought that conversation back from the recesses of my memory. I was in the process of finishing closing letter on behalf of a client for a business deal with a publicly traded business partner. We had been working on this transaction for nearly 18 months at this point, having had crazy meetings around the United States, countless late-night calls, and months of difficult and complex negotiations. After all the hard work and uncertainty, we were finally ready for signatures from the respective executives. As I finalized the letter, excited about the part that my […]

Artist Feature with Dan Cautrell

Posted on: 24 Nov 2021

Our firm is proud of our regional, national, and international reach, but just as important to Possinger Law Group and its staff are our local roots. Founded in 2001, our firm has spent 20 years building connections to our clients, as well as local businesses and artisans. One of the many ways that we connect with our community is through annual Thanksgiving cards. These cards are sent to clients, colleagues, and other friends of the law firm. We use these cards as an opportunity to wish our community well during the holiday season, and to express our gratitude for their support. However, our community engagement starts long before the mailing process; Possinger Law Group also collaborates with local artists to design and produce our cards. This Thanksgiving season, we are proud to announce that our firm is once again working with Seattle-area artist Dan Cautrell to create the design for our cards. This year’s theme is “The Life of an Acorn”, meant to symbolize internal strength, fortitude, and growth in arduous conditions. We are looking forward to sharing the design with you soon. With a career and impact spanning across the Pacific Northwest, Cautrell credits his experiences attending art school in Southern California with many of his artistic specializations. These include printmaking, linoleum and woodblock printing, wood carving, and most recently, concrete sculpture. Many of Cautrell’s projects are murals and public art projects, so local environments and culture are a central theme throughout his artistic process. “My first inspiration is always the environment. I observe the plants, animals, landscape, and weather of a new area. Then I consider the history, and finally, the people.” Being attuned to the human condition in this way has made Cautrell a strong member of the local community. His pieces are featured as public art works throughout Seattle, with special presence in the Duvall-Woodinville area. He has developed logos for a variety of Seattle-based companies and events, and regularly produces pieces for individual community members and businesses (such as Possinger Law Group’s annual Thanksgiving cards). “I believe the best part of my job is being part of the culture of an area,” Cautrell expressed, adding, “I enjoy using my creative products to interact and unify with others.” Although he has been creating art for over 35 years, this year was particularly impactful for Cautrell as a community member. “I have learned that even in troubling times, art is valued,” he offered. “There is a power in art that can emotionally move people and give them a moment of calm, pleasure, peace. I always knew that this was the case, but art during these times has proven it.” We are proud to be working with Dan Cautrell on our annual Thanksgiving card, and if you would like to make sure you are on our contact list to receive Thanksgiving cards, please reach out to us through our website. Thank you to Dan Cautrell for sharing his insights with us for this piece. Cautrell can be found at his website, www.danielcautrell.com, or you can reach him for inquiries at dan.cautrell@gmail.com. His Instagram is @dan.cautrell.