When Simeon Osborn walks into the courtroom, the opposing counsel, and the powerbrokers they represent, shudder.
In his 27 years as an attorney representing ordinary people suffering extraordinary hardships, the Whitman alumnus has built a reputation as a dogged lawyer, winning his clients jury verdicts or settlements totaling more than $100 million.
One such settlement was the largest individual award ever paid by King County. Last year, Osborn represented the family of Christopher Sean Harris, who suffered catastrophic brain injury after a sheriff’s deputy shoved Harris, mistakenly identified by a witness as a suspect in a bloody bar fight, into a concrete wall. Despite settling, the sheriff’s office continued to deny the use of excessive force.
“The Sheriff’s office cleared their deputy of any wrong doing. We went on and got a record $10 million settlement against them for a deputy they said ‘did nothing wrong,’” Osborn said.
The law Osborn practices at the Seattle-firm Osborn Machler has saved countless lives and literally changed the way government agencies and multinational companies conduct business.
Take Stella Stansfield. Osborn recently represented the 12-year old girl who remained in a coma after Molina Healthcare and the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) denied her anti-seizure medication based on a so-called technicality. Molina and DSHS refused to honor a Medicare claim for the expensive drugs used to treat her severe form of epilepsy, Dravet Syndrome.
Osborn was so outraged by the treatment this family received that he took on the case for free. As in most cases, he prevailed. DSHS finally agreed to fork over the money for the drugs, and Stansfield’s condition has since improved.
“We changed the way DSHS distributes drugs,” said a proud Osborn. He went on to explain why he practices law. “My driving motivation has been to help those who have been injured or harmed by the misdeeds of others and to help people who cannot fight for themselves.”
The Stansfield case is just one of many that Osborn has won over the span of his successful career, providing relief and dignity to every-day families. Because of this casework, Osborn was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Puget Sound chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, a national organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the civil jury trial right.
The award is given to lawyers who exceed the expectations of the public and their peers by establishing themselves as true champions and crusaders for American justice through exemplary trial work.
“I was humbled by the award. It’s a great honor, like winning the Heisman for lawyers. My kid was there. My wife was there. It was cool,” Osborn said.
It’s no accident Osborn compared this prestigious award to the Heisman Trophy, annually given to the best college football player. Osborn originally enrolled at Whitman to play football.
“I was recruited by Division I schools, but I knew I’d never play in the NFL, so I went to Whitman because of the people I met there and coach Woody,” Osborn said, referring to former Whitman football coach Ken Woody.
When Whitman dropped its football program, Osborn transferred to Portland State University. As luck would have it, though, Osborn suffered an ankle injury and chose to return to Whitman to play baseball, a decision that would ultimately help him succeed as a lawyer.
“Law school was easier than Whitman. At Whitman we learned to study for major exams, so that was an enormous help in law school,” Osborn said. “I was able to handle law school, because I knew how to write. Writing all those papers and essays in blue books prepared me.
“Whitman started me down the road where I am right now.”
So what does this high-energy lawyer, who fills his spare time with a host of volunteer activities, such as coaching baseball and serving as a board member for the Kirkland Boys and Girls Club, do now that he’s won the ultimate honor for an attorney?
“Keep on keeping on,” he said. “Keep fighting the bad guys.”