Auld vs City of Seattle et al

On June 20, 2024, a Washington jury found Defendants City of Seattle and 14th & Dravus, LLC liable for negligence and awarded $13.1 million to Plaintiff Leslie Auld in the present personal injury case.

Case Background

On May 27, 2022, Plaintiffs Lesley M. Auld and James Auld filed a personal injury lawsuit before the Washington State Superior Court, King County. Hon Annette Messitt presided over this case. [Case number: 22-2-08004-3]


Plaintiffs Lesley Mettler Auld and James Auld, residents of the State of Washington, were married. Defendant City of Seattle, a municipal corporation operating in King County, Washington, and Defendant 14th & Dravus LLC, a Washington limited liability company based at 200 1st Avenue West, Suite 520, Seattle, WA, 98119, were involved in the disputed incident.

The incident occurred on the south sidewalk of West Dravus Street, between 13th Avenue West and 14th Avenue West, in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood.

On July 8, 2021, Plaintiff Lesley Auld, aged 53, an ultramarathon athlete, was walking westbound on the south sidewalk of West Dravus Street when she slipped and fell on a slippery patch of the sidewalk. Despite the dry July weather, sediment, organic material, water, and algae had created an unexpectedly slippery surface.

The slippery condition was allegedly partly caused by water from Defendant 14th & Dravus LLC’s property, according to information and belief.

The sidewalk was hazardous and unreasonably dangerous where the incident occurred. There were no warning signs to alert pedestrians to the hazard at the time of Plaintiff’s fall.

Defendant 14th & Dravus LLC, and the City of Seattle were aware of previous injuries and complaints regarding the dangerous condition of the sidewalk where Plaintiff Lesley Auld was injured. Despite this knowledge, no corrective action had been taken.

As a result of her fall and the negligence of the Defendants, Plaintiff Lesley Auld sustained serious physical injuries.


As a consequence of her fall and the Defendants’ negligence, Plaintiff Lesley Auld sustained severe physical injuries.

Following her fall and due to the Defendants’ negligence, Plaintiff Lesley Auld severely damaged her quadriceps and underwent surgical procedures. Plaintiff Lesley Auld’s medical treatment for her injuries has been ongoing, and she will require continuous medical care for the remainder of her life.

Due to the negligence of the Defendants, Plaintiff Lesley Auld suffered physical disabilities, pain, emotional distress, medical expenses, lost income, diminished earning capacity, future medical costs, loss of consortium, reduced quality of life, and other specific and general damages, both past and future.

As a direct result of the negligence by the Defendants, Plaintiff James Auld experienced and continues to experience loss of consortium, both past and future, for which he was entitled to receive compensation.


The Plaintiffs sought various forms of relief from the Defendants. They requested specific compensatory damages, both special and general, to be determined during trial. Additionally, they sought pre-judgment interest on any liquidated damages awarded. The Plaintiffs also requested reimbursement for their costs and disbursements related to the case, including reasonable attorney’s fees. Furthermore, they asked the Court to grant any other relief deemed appropriate and just.

Key Arguments and Proceedings

Legal Representation


Plaintiffs claimed that Defendants were legally obligated to maintain the sidewalk where Plaintiff Lesley Auld sustained her injury in a safe condition. They also had a responsibility to regularly inspect and upkeep their property to ensure the safety of pedestrians using the same sidewalk. Furthermore, Defendants were required, at the very least, to warn the public about any hazardous conditions present on the sidewalk where Plaintiff Lesley Auld was injured. Moreover, Defendants were obligated to promptly address any known dangerous conditions that existed on the sidewalk. As a result of their actions, Defendants were found liable for negligence and nuisance. Their failure to meet the industry standard of care directly contributed to the injuries and damages suffered by the Plaintiffs.


The Defendants denied the allegations of negligence against them. By way of affirmative defense, Defendant City of Seattle stated that Under RCW 4.22.070, the City had the right to apportion fault and determine the proportional liability of all parties involved in causing the Plaintiffs’ injuries, including the Plaintiffs themselves.

It was asserted that any alleged defect was visible and apparent. Additionally, the injuries, losses, and damages alleged by the Plaintiffs might have been partly caused by the fault or negligence of the Plaintiffs themselves. Such negligence would diminish the Plaintiffs’ potential recovery in this case. Furthermore, the Plaintiffs’ claimed damages could have been caused by the actions, behaviors, or oversights of other individuals or entities beyond the City’s control.

Defendant 14th & Dravus, LLC by affirmative defense asserted that Plaintiffs had not adequately presented a basis for granting relief. Additionally, any damages claimed by the Plaintiffs might have been caused, either fully or partially, by their negligence. Therefore, principles of contributory negligence needed to be considered.

Moreover, the damages suffered by the Plaintiffs could have been partly due to the actions of third parties over whom the Defendants had no authority. There was a possibility that the Plaintiffs had not taken steps to minimize or reduce their damages. Furthermore, the assumption of risk doctrine could have precluded the Plaintiffs’ claims. Lastly, because Defendant Dravus did not have ownership of the property where the Plaintiffs sustained their injuries, their claims could be barred.

Expert Testimony

Both sides brought in experts to strengthen their arguments.

Plaintiffs enlisted a range of experts, including Sarah Eaton, LMFT, who provided insights into psychological aspects, and Rhody Elofson, PhD, who testified on cognitive impacts. Medical expertise came from Grant Garcia, MD, Virtaj Singh, MD, Douglas Smith, MD, Albert Gee, MD, Kimberly Harmon, MD, Jonah Hulst, MD, and Christopher Wahl, MD, each addressing various medical aspects. Joellen Gill, M.S., CHFP, focused on financial perspectives, while Jason Dragoo, MD, specialized in orthopedic evaluations. Engineering insights were provided by Eric Heller, PE, LG, and Cloie Johnson, M.Ed, who offered insights on educational impacts.

Defendant 14th & Dravus, LLC brought in Harold Rappaport, a neurologist and psychiatrist, and Alan Brown, an orthopedist, to testify regarding Plaintiff’s functional abilities, and ability to participate in further therapy or programs to increase Plaintiff’s function. James Packman, a certified hydrologist, testified about the assessment of the hydrologic process of the surface water flow at the property. Michael McEvilly, a land surveyor, testified about the property boundaries.

Jury Verdict

On June 20, 2024, a Washington jury found Defendants City of Seattle and 14th & Dravus, LLC liable for negligence. The jury awarded Plaintiff Lesley Auld a total of $13,159,456.26. The breakdown of the amount is as follows:

  • Past economic damages: $364,456.26
  • Future economic damages: $2,350,000
  • Past non-economic damages: $2,920,000
  • Future non-economic damages: $7,525,000

The jury apportioned 48% of the fault to the City of Seattle and 52% to 14th & Dravus, LLC.

On June 20, 2024, Hon Annette Messitt entered a final judgment affirming the verdict.

Court Documents:

Available upon request