Defense Win! - Keating, Bucklin & McCormack, Inc., P.S.
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Section: Summer 2022

Shannon Ragonesi
Shannon is a shareholder and member of the Board of Directors of KBM. Her law practice encompasses civil rights litigation, employment litigation, labor law, school law, public records act litigation, and wrongful death and personal injury defense. She represents governmental agencies, school districts, schools, fire districts, police agencies, and their employees; as well as private corporations and individuals. Shannon has represented her clients in over 60 jury and bench trials in federal and state courts and labor arbitrations. She has also expertly represented her clients before the Washington state Court of Appeals and Supreme Court as well as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. As a further, integral part of her law practice, Shannon investigates potential claims and provides guidance to her clients on litigation avoidance strategies.

Prior to joining Keating, Bucklin & McCormack, Inc., P.S., Shannon was a Captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corp where she served for over five years as a Senior Prosecuting Attorney, a Senior Torts Attorney, Chief of Military Justice, and a Military Magistrate.

Brian Augenthaler
Brian is a shareholder with Keating Bucklin & McCormack, Inc. P.S. His practice includes governmental and outdoor recreation defense litigation, including law enforcement, employment, land use, road design, and ski accident matters. Representative clients include cities throughout Washington State, the University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center, and ski areas.
Shannon Ragonesi and Brian Augenthaler recently received a defense verdict on behalf of two police officers at the Issaquah Police Department.

In August 2018, the Issaquah police responded to a 911 report that the reporting party’s neighbors were involved in a verbal disturbance with objects being thrown. Under state law, police officers in Washington have an affirmative duty to investigate domestic violence and take appropriate steps to protect victims of domestic violence. Two officers responded to the 911 call. When the officers arrived on scene, they knocked on the door. When the door opened, the lead officer was surprised to see that an older gentleman appeared to be grabbing his wife’s shirt from behind, revealing her midriff. The officers quickly determined that there was a language barrier, as the couple spoke only Mandarin Chinese (a language neither of the officers spoke). The door suddenly began to close. The lead officer stopped the door from closing and entered the residence. The husband took an aggressive step toward him. The officers each took control of one of the husband’s arms and escorted him to a couch for handcuffing. The officers handcuffed the husband on the couch, and his body went limp. The wife presented one of the officers with a card that had the word “Alzheimer’s” on it. The officers immediately understood they were dealing with a medical episode, not domestic violence.  The officers summoned medical aid. Unfortunately, due to a severe preexisting condition in the husband’s cervical spine, he passed away a month later.

The plaintiff (the wife on behalf of the husband’s estate) sued the officers in federal court claiming civil rights violations, including unlawful entry, unlawful detention, and excessive force. The officers moved the trial court for dismissal on qualified immunity grounds. That motion was denied. The officers sought interlocutory review of the trial court’s summary judgment denial.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and dismissed the plaintiff’s unlawful entry and detention claims.

The case went to trial based on excessive force only. The trial lasted for just over two weeks. There were several delays related to jurors becoming ill during the trial and the related precautions taken as a result. During closing argument, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award the plaintiff with a multi-million-dollar verdict. The jury deliberated for a day prior to returning a unanimous defense verdict in favor of the Issaquah police officers.