Richard E. Spoonemore
(J.D. University of Washington)
Mr. Spoonemore's complex litigation practice emphasizes federal securities litigation, federal ERISA litigation in the health, disability and pension fields, as well as title, general business and class action litigation. He has received the highest rating — AV® — by Martindale-Hubbell, is rated 10/10 on Avvo®, and has been named a "Super Lawyer"® for over a decade, including being named as a Washington State “Top 100” lawyer in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
A Seattle native and second-generation attorney, Mr. Spoonemore received his law degree from the University of Washington in 1992, where he was a member of the Moot Court Honor Board and the winner of the Falknor Appellate Competition. He graduated from Willamette University in 1989 with high honors from the political science department. Mr. Spoonemore has been with Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore Hamburger for nineteen years, following five years of practice at the Seattle firm of Helsell Fetterman.
Mr. Spoonemore is a twenty-year volunteer with the American Cancer Society, including two terms as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the twelve-state Great West Division of the Society. In 2011 he was awarded the St. George award for exemplary service, the highest honor bestowed on volunteers to the American Cancer Society. An avid and competitive middle distance runner, Mr. Spoonemore is a member of a local master’s racing team and a fixture at 5k and 10k races in Western Washington. He lives on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle with his wife, Laura M. Periman, M.D., and their two daughters.
• Practice Areas
Mr. Spoonemore has a variety of trial, appellate and arbitration experience, from arguing before the Washington State Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to trial and motions practice before Washington State Courts and Federal District Courts in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Alaska, Pennsylvania, Utah and Texas.
Mr. Spoonemore has successfully litigated many high profile cases in the health care, securities, and pension fields. Over the last fifteen years, Mr. Spoonemore was lead counsel, or co-lead counsel, in obtaining: (1) the largest judgments ever obtained — $247 million — under Section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934; (2) two of the largest settlements ever obtained under Section 16(b); (3) a $30.4 million arbitration award in a class action; (4) a $45 million settlement in a consumer class action; and (4) settlements or judgments exceeding $1 million in no fewer than twenty cases.
• Health Care and ERISA Litigation
In recent class actions against Regence BlueShield, Premera Blue Cross, Group Health Cooperative, Moda, King County, Washington's Health Care Authority and Boeing, Mr. Spoonemore and his partner, Ms. Hamburger, successfully forced insurers to eliminate health insurance exclusions and limitations that had historically prevented children with autism and other developmental disabilities from receiving medically necessary health care. See e.g. O.S.T. v. Regence BlueShield, 181 Wn.2d 692, 335 P.3d 416 (2014); Z.D. v. Group Health Coop., 2012 WL 1977962, 53 BNA 2190 (W.D. Wa. 2012). The Seattle Times, in a May 2014 editorial, credited Mr. Spoonemore and Ms. Hamburger with enforcing Washington State's Mental Health Parity Act when the Washington State Legislature and Insurance Commissioner had refused to act to ensure coverage. See Editorial: State Needs Parity Mandate to Cover Autism Therapy, May 20, 2014 ("Instead, Kreidler and the Legislature left enforcement to class-action lawyers, in particular attorneys Rick Spoonemore and Ele Hamburger."). These cases followed a series of cases litigated by Mr. Spoonemore in the late 1990s and early 2000s where he received judgments and settlements for Washington insureds exceeding $40 million arising out of violations of Washington's Every Category of Provider Law. See e.g. Hoffman v. Regence BlueShield, 140 Wn.2d 121 (2000).
In early 2016, Mr. Spoonemore and Ms. Hamburger launched a series of groundbreaking class action lawsuits against insurers and the State of Washington arising out of the denial of insurance coverage for Harvoni and other direct acting anti-viral drugs used to cure individuals with Hepatitis C. This link provides more information on this litigation. On May 27, 2016, a federal court in Seattle entered an injunction in one of their first cases, and required the State of Washington to provide access to this life-saving treatment to Medicaid beneficiaries despite its $800 million cost to the State. See Federal Court Requires WA Medicaid to Provide HCV Cure to Patients. A state court followed, entering a similar injunction against the State with respect to its coverage of public employees. Three private insurers subsequently settled with agreements to provide access to Harvoni for all insureds.
In addition to his class action work, Mr. Spoonemore represents individuals who have been denied health care or disability benefits. See e.g. A.A. v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29986, 58 BNA 2423 (W.D. Wa. 2014) (judgment requiring insurer to provide skilled nursing care for a minor dependent); K.F. v. Blueshield, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71314 (W.D. Wa. 2008) (judgment awarded requiring 16 hours of nursing care coverage for a ventilator dependent child); Murch v. Prudential Welfare Benefit Plan, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32613 (W.D. Wa. 2006) (coverage for stroke patient); Camerer v. Cont’l Cas. Co., 76 Fed. Appx. 837 (9th Cir. 2003) (affirming award of benefits to insured with brain injury).
Mr. Spoonemore's health care practice began in the early 1990s, when he successfully represented several hundred women who had been denied health insurance coverage for the treatment of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as his pro bono work through the King County Bar Association's Volunteer Attorneys for Persons with AIDS Program (VAPWA) during the height of the AIDS health crisis. See e.g. Berry v. Blue Cross, 815 F. Supp. 359 (W.D. Wa. 1993). As part of his work on behalf of cancer and AIDS patients, he drafted an amendment to Washington’s Injunction Bond Statute, RCW 7.40.080, that permitted state courts to waive the injunction bond requirement “in situations in which a person’s health or life would be jeopardized,” thereby permitting effective injunctive relief to be entered for individuals in need of health care who had successfully obtained injunctive relief but could not afford to bond the injunction. In the mid-1990 he was lead counsel in Bowen v. Principal Mutual, a class action that successfully enjoined Principal Mutual from terminating health insurance coverage for hundreds of individuals diagnosed with HIV in Washington State. He was featured in the King County Bar Association’s radio campaign “Voices of Justice” for this work on behalf of HIV/AIDS patients.
• Securities Litigation
Mr. Spoonemore, as lead counsel, obtained the largest judgment in the eighty year history of Section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (over $247 million) in Dreiling v. Jain, 281 F. Supp. 2d 1234 (W.D. Wa. 2003). He had previously obtained the third largest settlement under Section 16(b) against a former board member of InfoSpace and MCI/WorldCom, as well a significant settlement with American Express related to its stock transactions after a successful appeal in the Ninth Circuit. Dreiling v. Am. Express Co., 351 F. Supp. 2d 1077 (W.D. Wa. 2004), rev'd, 458 F.3d 942 (9th Cir. 2006). He also represents investors defrauded in Ponzi investment schemes. See e.g. Burdick v. Villalba, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121837 (W.D. Wa. 2010) ($20 million judgment entered against investment company and its principal). He was a member of the editorial board, and co-edited, the Washington State Bar Association’s 2014 Deskbook “Shareholder Litigation in Washington State.”
His securities work extends to the protection of employee pension funds. As lead counsel, he has successfully litigated violations of fiduciary and statutory duties under ERISA, imprudent investment decisions, and misappropriation of employee pension benefits. See e.g. Stanford v. Foamex L.P., 263 F.R.D. 156 (E.D. Penn. 2009); McCluskey v. Trs. of Red DOT Corp. ESOP & Trust, 268 F.R.D. 670 (W.D. Wa. 2010). He was lead counsel in Levy v. Washington Dept. of Income Security, where the State of Washington was found to have violated Art. I, § 23 of the Washington State Constitution by terminating vested retirement benefits earned by professors and other employees in Washington’s Universities and Community Colleges. In 2013 he was tapped by Washington State’s retired teachers and public employees to argue the constitutional $7 billion UCOLA dispute before the Washington State Supreme Court. Wash. Educ. Ass’n v. Dep’t of Ret. Sys., 181 Wn.2d 233 (2014).
• Defense Litigation
Mr. Spoonemore’s practice includes a significant amount of defense work. He has successfully defended the Federal Reserve Bank and Janet Yellen, law firms, local technology companies, and insurers in a variety of complex litigation matters. See e.g. Pettie v. Saxon Mortg. Servs., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41496 (W.D. Wa. 2009) (defense of Federal Reserve Bank); Columbia Cmty. Credit Union v. Chicago Title Ins. Co., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12624 (W.D. Wa. 2010) (defense of Chicago Title Ins. Co.); Edmonds v. Getty Images, 524 F. Supp. 2d 1267 (W.D. Wa. 2007) (defense of Getty Images); Global Educ. Servs. v. Intuit Inc., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57593 (W.D. Wa. 2011) (defense of class action). He has extensive experience in litigating title insurance issues, including the litigation of priority disputes on behalf of banks and lenders related to major construction and development projects.
• Other Litigation and Arbitration
In addition to the areas listed above, Mr. Spoonemore has litigated and arbitrated cases under a variety of statutory schemes. For example, Mr. Spoonemore and his partner, Mr. Youtz, represented Columbia Legal Services and a class of collect call recipients against a number of telecommunication companies, including AT&T. See Judd v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Co., 2006 Wash. App. LEXIS 2741 (2006). The matter settled for $45 million after multiple trips to the Washington State Supreme Court upon a finding of liability under Washington’s Consumer Protection Act. After all class members received awards, over $13 million in cy pres funds was distributed to the Legal Foundation of Washington and the Endowment for Equal Justice.
Mr. Spoonemore is frequently retained to arbitrate cases in confidential dispute resolution forums, and has represented clients in arbitrations as varied from an arbitration against a major accounting firm held in the New York Times Building in New York, to an arbitration over the control of a large hop farming operation venued in Yakima, Washington.