Isaac Ruiz

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Insurance Coverage Attorney in Seattle, WA

Ruiz & Smart Plaintiff Litigation
 | 95 S Jackson St, Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-536-2762
Selected To Super Lawyers: 2015 - 2020
Licensed Since: 2004
Practice Areas:
  • Insurance Coverage (50%),
  • Personal Injury - General: Plaintiff (30%),
  • Civil Rights (20%)
Languages Spoken:
  • English,
  • Spanish
    Attorney Profile

    Isaac Ruiz is the managing partner and founder of Ruiz & Smart Plaintiff Litigation PLLC in Seattle, Washington. Mr. Ruiz focuses his practice primarily on insurance coverage disputes, and also works with personal injury claims and civil rights litigation. He represents clients in Seattle and throughout the state of Washington.

    Using his knowledge and experience to serve others, Mr. Ruiz regularly lectures on insurance, police reform and other legal topics for groups, including the Washington State Bar Association, the Washington State Association for Justice and the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement. He is the author of numerous publications on these and other legal topics, as well as an insurance legal treatise on the Insurance Fair Conduct Act titled the IFCA Book.

    Mr. Ruiz is a former co-chair and commissioner on the Seattle Community Police Commission. He has also served on the board of directors of the QLaw Foundation of Washington, an organization providing pro bono legal services to Washington’s LGBTQ community.

    Born and raised in Texas, Mr. Ruiz graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, where he double majored in economics and government. He earned his law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School, graduating magna cum laude while clerking for a professor and serving on the Notre Dame Law Review. Prior to founding his law practice, he gained substantial legal experience through practicing with several major law firms and serving as a clerk for a judge sitting on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver, Colorado.

     
    Practice Areas
    • 50%Insurance Coverage
    • 30%Personal Injury - General: Plaintiff
    • 20%Civil Rights
    Focus Areas

    Insurance, Bad Faith Insurance, Personal Injury - Plaintiff, Wrongful Death, Sexual Abuse - Plaintiff, Police Misconduct

    Selections

    Selected to Super Lawyers for 6 yearsbottom-image

    Super Lawyers: 2015 - 2020

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    About Isaac Ruiz

    Admitted: 2004, Washington

    Professional Webpage: https://www.plaintifflit.com/bioiruiz

    Honors/Awards:

    • Dean's List (Spring Semester), University of Notre Dame Law School, 2000
    • Dean's List (Fall Semester), University of Notre Dame Law School, 1998
    • Dean's Award for Corporations, University of Notre Dame Law School, 1999
    • Pro Bono Publico Service Commendation, Washington State Bar Association, 2007
    • Dean's List (Spring Semester), University of Notre Dame Law School, 1999
    • Dean's List (Fall Semester), University of Notre Dame Law School, 1997
    • Avvo attorney "Superb" rating, Avvo, 2018
    • Graduated with Honors, magna cum laude, University of Notre Dame Law School, 2000
    • Dean's List (Fall Semester), University of Notre Dame Law School, 1999
    • Arthur Abel Award for Best Article, Notre Dame Law Review, 1999

    Special Licenses/Certifications:

    • Inactive member of the Virginia State Bar Association
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, 2001

    Bar/Professional Activity:

    • Member of King County Bar Association
    • Member of the Board of Directors, QLaw Foundation
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 2006
    • Member of QLaw Association
    • Chair, Washington State Association for Justice's Insurance Section, 2014
    • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, 2004
    • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, 2014
    • Member of Washington State Association for Justice (Eagle Member)
    • Member of the American Association for Justice
    • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, 2010

    Pro bono/Community Service:

    • Served as pro bono counsel for asylum seekers through Volunteer Advocates for Immigrant Justice.
    • Actively support political candidates who stand up for public education and access to justice. Took a month away from legal practice in 2008 to work on the Hillary Clinton for President campaign in Las Vegas, Nevada. Returned in 2012 to work on Barack Obama's re-election campaign.
    • Represented a young Salvadoran man who sought asylum in the United States in order to escape retribution for quitting his gang. The case was Sanchez v. Holder, No. 06-75797 (9th Cir.). A copy of the appellate brief is found here.
    • Obtained asylum for openly gay Somali refugee on the basis of religious and social-group persecution.

    Scholarly Lectures/Writings:

    • Publisher of www.IFCAresources.com
    • Publisher of www.policereformresources.org
    • The lead article in October 2014's edition of the King County Bar Association Bar Bulletin, written by Isaac Ruiz, looks back at the first seven years of the Insurance Fair Conduct Act (IFCA), RCW 48.30.015., Author, Seven Years After the Insurance Fair Conduct Act, Bar Bulletin, King County Bar Association, 2014
    • Author, IFCA Book 2020
    • Compiled by Isaac Ruiz, with preface by Isaac Ruiz, Legislative History of Washington's Insurance Fair Conduct Act (2014), is the most comprehensive collection of IFCA's legislative history. This project commissioned transcripts of the House and Senate committee hearings that led to the law's enactment. This book makes those transcripts available to practitioners and the public for the first time., Compiler, Legislative History of Washington's Insurance Fair Conduct Act, LD Publishing, 2014
    • Presenter, IFCA and Bad Faith Insurance Claims, Washington State Association for Justice's Legal Staff Section, Washington State Association For Justice, 2014
    • Presenter, Washington State Association for Justice's 35th Annual Insurance Law Seminar: Hot Topics in Insurance Law, Washington State Association for Justice's Insurance Section, Washington State Association For Justice, 2013
    • Presenter, Washington Defense Trial Lawyers' Annual Insurance Law Update, Washington Defense Trial Lawyers, Washington Defense Trial Lawyers, 2013
    • Washington's Insurance Fair Conduct Act: Cases and Analysis is the first, comprehensive treatise about Washington's groundbreaking insurance law., Author, Washington's Insurance Fair Conduct Act: Cases and Analysis, 2014
    • Author, IFCA Claims Without a Denial of Coverage, Washington State Association for Justice's Trial News, Washington State Association For Justice, 2012
    • Author, Swidler & Berlin v. United States: Ye Shall Know the Truth If the Truth Shall Set Ye Free, Notre Dame Law Review, 1999
    • Author, National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Smith: Must the NCAA Play by the Rules?, Journal of College & University Law, 1999
    • Author, My Letter to the Trustees of the La Feria Schools on the Handling of Jeydon Loredo's Yearbook Photo, Huffington Post, 2013
    • Excerpt: "An insurance lawsuit is a way to keep insurers honest. A claimant who brings a successful lawsuit against an insurer not only wins compensation for the wrong but benefits society as a whole by bringing the misconduct to light, educating insurers and policyholders about their rights and obligations, and deterring insurance abuse on a larger scale. It ought to be an uncontroversial assertion, in light of the individual and societal interests at stake, that when an insurer acts unfairly and harms its insured, the insured ought to have an effective way to redress the harm. An ineffective remedy--one that discourages meritorious cases or that inadequately compensates the insured for the actual harm caused by the insurer's misconduct--is likely to lead at least some insurance companies to craft claims-handling practices based not on what good faith requires but on what they can get away with." This article examines Washington's Insurance Fair Conduct Act fundamentally remedial nature, in the context of the laws that preceded the Act., Author, On the Remedial Nature of the Insurance Fair Conduct Act, Gonzaga Law Review, 2014
    • Published in the Washington State Association for Justice's Trial News, this article by attorney Isaac Ruiz discusses whether the Insurance Fair Conduct Act (IFCA), RCW 48.30.015, applies to liability insurance policies., Author, The Insurance Fair Conduct Act and Liability Insurance Policies, Trial News (Washington State Association for Justice), Washington State Association For Justice, 2014
    • In Lost in Translation: The Needs of Spanish Language Policyholders, published in May 2015, Isaac Ruiz sought to introduce practitioners to some of the problems faced by non-English speaking policyholders lost in the insurance claims handing process., Author, Lost in Translation: The Needs of Spanish Language Policyholders, Trial News, Washington State Association For Justice, 2015
    • In January 2015, Isaac Ruiz co-chaired and gave an Insurance Fair Conduct Act Update at the Washington State Association for Justice's 37th Annual Insurance Law Seminar., Co-Chair and Presenter, Insurance Fair Conduct Act Update, 37th Annual Insurance Law Seminar, Washington State Association For Justice, 2015
    • In March 2015, Isaac Ruiz was a co-presenter at the American Bar Association's 2015 Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar in Tucson, Arizona. The topic was Duty or No Duty? The audience was presented with fact scenarios and asked to decide whether a liability insurer owed a duty to defend., Co-Presenter, Duty or No Duty?, 2015 Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar, American Bar Association (ABA), 2015
    • In March 2015, Isaac Ruiz was a co-presenter at the Puget Sound Adjusters Association's 4th Annual Spring Symposium. He spoke about insurance bad faith litigation from the perspective of a policyholder's attorney., Co-Presenter, "American Sniper": What to Do When Good Faith Goes Bad, Puget Sound Adjusters Association's 4th Annual Spring Symposium, Puget Sound Adjusters Association, 2015

    Verdicts/Settlements:

    • Bird v. Best Plumbing Group, LLC, 287 P.3d 551 (Wash. 2012): Mr. Bird came home to his hillside property, located on Puget Sound. As he walked downhill toward his residence, a geyser of raw sewage erupted from the ground and engulfed him. Thus began Mr. Bird's saga. The sewage continued to flow over time, despite efforts to stop it, causing the hillside to slump toward the sea. Mr. Bird sued Best Plumbing--whose employee trespassed on the property and cut an underground, pressurized sewage pipe, causing the geyser. Best Plumbing had liability insurance issued by Farmers. Despite opportunities, Farmers failed to settle the claim with Mr. Bird for the amount available under the insurance policy. Washington law lets insureds in Best Plumbing's position enter into settlements calling for a stipulated judgment with a covenant that the judgment will only be executed against the defendant's insurance assets. Such a settlement typically includes an assignment to the plaintiff of the defendant's claims against its insurance company arising from the insurance company's improper handling of the claim. The settlements are known as "covenant judgments." The amount of the covenant judgment, if found reasonable, serves as the presumptive amount damages in the subsequent, assigned action brought by the plaintiff against the insurer. Mr. Bird and Best Plumbing negotiated a covenant judgment in the amount of $3.75 million. They asked the superior court to hold an equitable hearing to determine whether the settlement amount was reasonable. Farmers intervened in the case and asked the judge to empanel a jury to determine reasonableness. The superior court denied the request for a jury. After voluminous discovery concerning the reasonableness of the settlement and four days of hearings, the court found the settlement reasonable. Farmers appealed the denial of a jury and the reasonableness determination. I was part of the three-lawyer team that represented Mr. Bird at the reasonableness hearing and on appeal. I was the principal writer of the briefs. I argued the case before the Court of Appeals of Washington, which affirmed unanimously. My colleague, William C. Smart, argued the case at the Supreme Court of Washington, which also affirmed, 6-3. The resulting Supreme Court opinion, Bird v. Best Plumbing Group, LLC, 287 P.3d 551 (Wash. 2012), is an important insurance case in our state. The Supreme Court held, among other things, that an insurer is not entitled to a jury trial to determine the reasonableness of a settlement and that the superior court didn't abuse its discretion in determining that the covenant judgment was reasonable., 2012
    • MWW, PLLC v. Kiribati Seafood Co., LLC, No. 69109-1-I (Wash. Ct. App.): An attorney filed a lawsuit to collect unpaid attorney fees from his client. The client then filed a reactionary counterclaim alleging professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. The attorney's professional liability insurer defended him under a reservation of rights. After the insurer refused to consent to a settlement--and with available policy limits dwindling because of defense costs--the parties entered into a settlement that required the insurer to pay $550,000 to settle the counterclaims in exchange for the client's promise to pay the same amount to settle the claim for unpaid fees. The King County Superior Court approved the settlement in a reasonableness hearing. The insurer appealed, arguing that the settlement was the product of collusion and that the superior court had no power to conduct a reasonableness hearing. I represented the attorney on appeal. The court of appeals affirmed the equitable determination of reasonableness., 2014
    • Sund v. Regence BlueShield, No. 13-2-03122-1 SEA (King County Superior Court): Obtained ruling from the superior court holding the law creating the Health Technology Clinical Committee (HTCC) unconstitutional. Reached settlement requiring the State of Washington to pay the cost of clients' spinal cord stimulation and implement certain regulatory measures., 2014
    • Perkins Coie LLP v. Ridgetop Associates (King County Superior Court): My client, a law firm, brought an action to recover unpaid legal fees from Ridgetop Associates. Ridgetop Associates filed counterclaims alleging violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Consumer Protection Act. At trial, the jury returned a verdict awarding my client all of its damages. The superior court awarded Perkins Coie all of its attorney fees and prejudgment interest., 2009

    Educational Background:

    • Graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, double-majoring in Economics and Government., 1996

    Industry Groups

    • American Association For Justice
    • former President)
    • King County Bar Association
    • QLaw Foundation of Washington (Board Member
    • Washington State Association For Justice (Eagle Member)
    • Washington State Bar Association
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    Office Location for Isaac Ruiz

    95 S Jackson St
    Suite 100
    Seattle, WA 98104

    Phone: 206-536-2762

    Isaac Ruiz:

    Last Updated: 10/28/2020

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