Michael R. McKinstry
Trust & Estate Litigation
Mike is a partner and senior trial lawyer. He pursues justice and tries cases with integrity. For over 40 years he has been doing this with passion in state and federal courts in Washington and across the country.
As a trial lawyer, Mike has handled hundreds of lawsuits and arbitrations in complex litigation, including business, major injury and death, product liability, maritime, construction, securities, constitutional, and trust and estate cases. As a Judge Pro Tem he has presided over civil and criminal jury and bench trials. His experience and decades of successful practice give him the necessary litigation judgment. He also has the relationships with leading experts and consultants necessary to build and present complex cases. Starting from his earliest practice years at the Schweppe Law firm, his experience has honed his instincts and judgment so that he confidently navigates the court system and achieves just, successful, and efficient results for his clients, individuals and businesses alike. He brings wisdom and judgment to the table. Courtesy, respect, and professionalism are a part of his code. And his compassion for his clients never allows him to back down from a fight when justice is at stake. His opponents and insurance companies know this well. If he can’t achieve a fair negotiated settlement, he’ll take the fight to trial, as he did in his 2010 case against the Washington Department of Transportation for defective highway design. That trial (Hu v. WSDOT) ended in a $30.2 million jury verdict.
His experience and compassion have prepared him to take on the risks and intense pressures of high stakes cases, whether representing individuals or businesses. Justice for victims of catastrophic injuries and death means pursuing major corporations, the government, and insurance companies in order to obtain fair compensation for wrongs done. Mike is not afraid to take the fight to these modern day Goliaths. His passion and calling is to pursue the cause of justice for the individual against the powerful. He cares and worries about his clients. He gets to know them very well. In the case of injured clients, he joins them on their journey as they grapple with their tragedies and work toward recovery. He keeps them informed and involved; works to shield them from the pressures of litigation; and sees that they are treated with respect and dignity along the way.
Mike is rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell, the top attorney rating available, and the online legal services marketplace Avvo gives him “10.00 out of 10.” He has been consistently rated “Super Lawyer” by his peers, is a member of The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 organization, and is a Washington State Association for Justice EAGLE.
Injury Litigation Areas
Pedestrian/Auto, Bus, Truck
Spinal Cord Injuries
Business Litigation Areas
Trusts and Estates
Washington State Bar Association
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
Professional and Community Involvement
Mike joined ELM in 1990 as a partner and Litigation Chair, and has continued in that role to date. He served as the firm’s managing partner for over six years. As Litigation Chair, he serves as lead counsel on many of the firm’s complex and major litigation matters. He also mentors the firm’s trial attorneys and passes on the traditions, ethics, and approach of those that mentored him.
Outside of his law practice, Mike enjoys travel and time with his wife and family. He and his wife have three adult children, eight grandchildren, and have been foster parents to many troubled youth, including street and gang kids and parolees. Mike also serves as a board member and speaker for East-West Outreach, a nonprofit that since the fall of the Soviet Union has served and provided relief in Romania, including work among the poor, gypsies, orphans, and prisoners, and in Mexico, through an orphanage in Monterrey.
Million Dollar Results
- Hu v. Washington Dept. of Transportation – $30.2 million jury verdict in a defective highway design case, settled on appeal.
- Confidential: $16 million estate and trust litigation involving multiple lawsuits in two states
- Larson v. Chrysler Group LLC – Confidential product defect settlement for a quadriplegic young woman who was paralyzed in a roll-over collision by a defective automobile roof.
- Holt v. Community Transit – $2 million settlement in wrongful death case in which an elderly man was hit by a bus while crossing in a cross-walk.
- Confidential: $1.25 million product liability/work place litigation.
- Confidential: Successful defense of $1.5 million minority shareholder valuation arbitration.
- Superior Court, King County. Securities fraud, $11 million judgment by motion, upheld on appeal.
- U.S. District Court, N.D. of Illinois. Commercial and breach of contract. Complete recovery. $1 million.
Other Litigation Matters Over the Last 30 Years
- Three Panel Arbitration, Seattle. Successful recovery (closed head injuries) overcoming defense and treating medical evidence of neuropsychologists that the patient had cheated.
- Superior Court, King County. Commercial truck/blind pedestrian, substantial recovery.
- Three Judge Panel, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. Defamation. Attending on behalf of U.S. nonprofit. A $1 million judgment was set aside and defense judgment obtained.
- Superior Court, Kent Regional Justice Center. Soft tissue jury trial verdict in favor of plaintiffs for over $100,000.
- U.S. District Court, W.D. Wash. Breach of contract; judgment for plaintiff.
- Confidential Pre-filing: Sexual assault by a professional athlete, substantial recovery.
- Superior Court, King County. Successfully represented custom builder, against allegations of defects and misrepresentation with construction quality.
- Arbitration, Seattle. Construction/water intrusion. Obtained settlement for plaintiffs in a multi-party coordinated arbitration that resulted in complete recovery of all monetary claims and all attorney’s fees.
- Superior Court, Clark County. Wrongful death and double murder. Obtained favorable settlement for plaintiffs after five years of state and federal proceedings.
- Superior Court, King County. Wrongful death. Multiple fatality/multiple party/commercial truck. Substantial settlement for plaintiffs/structured settlement for minor.
- Superior Court, Snohomish County. Suit by disgruntled church members alleging improper conduct by the pastor and claiming property rights in the church building. Before answering, we delivered our summary judgment brief and they dismissed their suit.
- U.S. District Court, W.D. of Wash. Injured Seaman. Substantial settlement for plaintiff.
- U.S. District Court, S.D. of Texas. Breach of farming contract. Favorable settlement for defense.
- Superior Court, King County. Multi-party construction dispute involving foundation excavation and tunnel work resulting in highly successful result for client contractor.
- Superior Court, Kitsap County. Substantial structured settlement for minor child, facial scarring from a dog bite.
- Superior Court, Chelan County. Personal injury, motorcycle. Substantial recovery.
- State Court, Bozeman, Montana. Upheld: Montana Supreme Court 92 Mont. 284, 972 P.2d 806 and in related appeal, 7 Neb. App. 294, 51 N.W. 2d 104. Trial verdict for plaintiff. Highest verdict in county history at the time. U.S. District Court, District of Montana. Additional recovery in bad faith litigation.
- Superior Court, King County. Relatives disinherited. Will upheld.
- Superior Court, King County. Wrongful death. Substantial estate recovery.
- State Court, Nebraska. Substantial recovery for injured plaintiff in Lincoln, Nebraska.
- Superior Court, King County. Libel. Significant settlement for plaintiff arising out of an article that wrongfully linked plaintiff to criminal activity.
- U.S. District Court, W.D. of Wash. Obtained requested relief allowing a Bible study group to meet at a public school facility and §1983 attorney’s fees of over several hundred thousand dollars after years of litigation.
- Superior Court, King County. Substantial recovery in a litigated matter where a fork lift rolled into and pinned plaintiff resulting in the amputation of his leg.
- Superior Court, King County. Personal injury/motorcycle. Substantial recovery involving a reconstructed foot to avoid amputation.
- Arbitration, Seattle. Wrongful death/pedestrian. Judgment for the estate of decedent, a man in his 90’s, hit and killed by a heating oil truck.
- Superior Court, King County. Wrongful death. Substantial recovery for beneficiaries.
- Superior Court, Clallam County. Contested will. Successfully represented beneficiary University.
- NASD arbitration, Seattle. Successfully defended claim for monies due from a former stockbroker.
- U.S. District Court, W.D. Wash. Substantial recovery for injured seaman.
- U.S. District Court, W.D. Wash. Constitutional and civil RICO. At trial, defense verdict following a highly publicized trial that involved fire bombings.
- U.S. District Court, W.D. Wash. Substantial lifetime structured recovery, traumatic brain injury to seaman hit in the head by an 8-pound cleat on a snapped deck line.
University of Washington, B.A., 1971
Seattle University School of Law, J.D., 1975