This week, your hosts Steve Lowry and Yvonne Godfrey interview Karen Koehler of Stritmatter Kessler Koehler Moore Law Firm (stritmatter.com).
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Acclaimed trial lawyer Karen Koehler, also known as the “Velvet Hammer,” discusses how she secured justice for dozens of victims of the Sept. 24, 2015 mass casualty crash involving a defective duck boat -- a World War II vessel turned amphibious vehicle -- and a tour bus full of international students on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle. She held the state of Washington responsible for the dangerous undivided, two-lane highway on which the wreck occurred as well as the Ride the Ducks Seattle and Ride the Ducks International companies for their disregard for safety in maintaining their duck boats.
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In the mid-2000’s an opponent told me that other defense attorneys were calling me “The Velvet Hammer™”. When asked why, he said: because you smile so sweetly while you are hammering us into the ground. I thought that was funny and adopted the name.
Being a lawyer is part of my soul. My work is part of who I am. The stories of my clients will never leave me. The child who could not bear to see his father take his last breath... The son who waved goodbye to his mother as he headed off to school, not realizing that would be the last time he would see her… The teenager on a school trip who woke up to see bones coming out through her skin… The young man struck down and killed in front of the police who had been ordered not to enter the Mardi Gras riot zone…The siblings who were in the hospital for so long that they had to postpone the funeral for their parents by a year… The eighth grader sitting in the rear passenger seat when the bumper from another car went through the vehicle and into her lovely face… The Boeing worker whose leg was almost torn off from the impact, fragments of bone lying in the street… The maintenance lead burned to death by an acid solution… The widows who created shrines in their bedrooms for their beloved spouses…The sister who saw her baby sister die. So much preventable sorrow.
My job is to make sure that wrongdoers are brought to justice and that the lives and losses of my clients are fully honored and respected. I love my job.
Trial Lawyer of the Year, Washington State Association for Justice (WSAJ), 2005
Named as Top 10 Super Lawyer in Washington State, Super Lawyers, 2014
Named as Top 100 Super Lawyer in Washington State, Super Lawyers, 2007-2018
Named as Top 50 Women Washington Super Lawyers, Super Lawyers, 2003-2018
Named as one of the top 500 leading Lawyers in America, Lawdragon Magazine, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2015
Listed in "The Best Lawyers in America", Best Lawyers publication, 2006-present
Top Trial Practice Blawg, American Bar Association, 2011, 2012
Rated AV, Martindale-Hubbell (highest available rating)
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