International Development & National Security
Besides his legal work, Matt is actively in local, national and international issues. He founded the Maasai Children’s Initiative (MCI), a female literacy project among the Maasai tribe in Southern Kenya. Matt built two schools that provided primary education to 300 Maasai girls, feeding programs for schoolchildren and employment for village women. Located in deep the Savanna with no power or electricity, Matt equipped his schools with solar powered computer labs with satellite internet connectivity and built a solar powered well to provide potable water to the school and surrounding villages. His efforts were chronicled in the Seattle Business Journal.
In addition to his philanthropic efforts, Matt serves on the Board of the American Security Project, a bi-partisan organization of political activists and retired flag officers that promotes non-partisan solutions to national security challenges including the US-Russia relationship, nuclear proliferation and climate change. Matt is also a board member of the Naval Historical Foundation which seeks to preserve, commemorate, and educate the history of the United States Navy and furnish contemporary strategic decision makers with historical context for current national security challenges.
Civil Rights and Worker Protection
Matt is a lifelong advocate for civil rights and worker protection. As a young lawyer, his first trial involved representing farmworkers who were being extorted by their foreman to secure harvest work. Over the past decade, he fought in the appellate courts to allow workers to sue employers who intentionally exposed them to hazardous toxins. Matt is currently serves on the Board of Directors of Working Washington, a statewide organization that fights to raise wages and improve labor standards for underrepresented workers in the service trades and gig economy.
Throughout his career, Matt has fought against racial, economic and religious discrimination as a legal advocate and community activist. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Center for Justice, which prosecutes impact litigation in Mississippi on voting rights, housing and healthcare related issues. Matt previously served as Chair of the Cardozo Society of the Seattle Jewish Federation.
Matt is a passionate advocate for the visual and performing arts. An active art collector, Matt has delivered speeches and written essays in conjunction with arts exhibitions and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Tacoma Art Museum. He also promotes the vital role of theater in public life and serves on the Board of the Seattle Repertory Theater.
Matt is an active boater and fisherman and an enthusiastic, if not proficient, skier. He is married with two adult children and a young grandchild.
- Federal District Court, Western District of Washington
- Federal District Court, Eastern District of Washington
- Federal District Court, Illinois
- Federal District Court, Southern California
- United States Court of Appeals – Ninth Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals – Tenth Circuit
- United States District Court – Western District of Washington
- United States District Court – Eastern District of Washington
- Lewis & Clark Law School, Portland Oregon
JD magna cum laude 1989
Elected to Cornelius Honor Society
- Reed College, Portland Oregon
BA (Sociology) 1986
Adjunct Professor of Law
Lewis & Clark Law School
Teach self-designed litigation strategy course entitled “Litigation and the Art of War.” Course applies classical strategic doctrines and historic military battles to contemporary litigation problems and issues.
Bergman Oslund Udo Little
Founding partner of leading asbestos law firm in the Pacific Northwest. Represented over 850 mesothelioma victims in Washington, Oregon, Montana and Alaska resulting in over $1 billion in client recoveries.
Weinstein & Bergman
Non-equity Partner in startup plaintiffs asbestos law firm.
Law Office of James D. Burns
Represented asbestos victims in Washington
Heller Ehrman White & Mcauliffe
Represented companies facing asbestos and environmental liabilities and Indian tribe in fishing rights litigation,
Law Clerk to Judge Bobby R. Baldock
United States Court of Appeals-Tenth Circuit
Researched and drafted published legal opinions on civil, criminal and administrative law appeals.
Federal Public Defender for the District of Oregon
Judge Diramuid F. O’Scannlain
United States Court of Appeals-Ninth Circuit
Honors and Appointments
- Washington Law & Politics, Super Lawyer, 2004 – present
- Lewis & Clark Law School
Distinguish Alumnus Award 2009
- National Trial Lawyers – Top 100
Selected by United States Trustee to represent asbestos claimants in following Bankruptcy Proceedings:
Owens Illinois (2020)
Fraser Boiler (2018)
Georgia Pacific (2017)
Kaiser Gypsum (2016)
TH Agriculture & Nutrition (2004)
Owens Corning/Fibreboard (2003)
AP Green (2002)
Kaiser Aluminum (2001)
E.J. Bartells (2001)
GI Holdings (2000)
Appointed by United States Bankruptcy Court to Serve on Trust Advisory Committee of Following Asbestos Victims Trusts:
TH Agriculture & Nutrition
Washington Supreme Court
Rublee v. Carrier Corp., 192 Wn.2d 190, 428 P.3d 1207 (2018) (Pfizer, Inc. incurred independent, non-derivative liability as an “apparent manufacturer” for injuries arising from asbestos-containing products manufactured by its subsidiary, Quigley Co,. by affixing the Pfizer logo to Quigley products).
Walston v. Boeing Co., 181 Wn.2d 391, 334 P.3d 519 (2014) (evidence indicating substantial risk of worker contracting mesothelioma from work-related exposure to asbestos was insufficient to come within “deliberate injury” exception to exclusivity provision of Industrial Insurance Act).
Macias v. Saberhagen Holdings, Inc., 175 Wn.2d 402, 282 P.3d 1069 (2012) (Clarifying Simonetta and Braaten to not extinguish mask manufacturer’s duty to warn of asbestos hazards arising from cleaning its product although asbestos supplied by third parties).
Simonetta v. Viad Corp., 165 Wn.2d 341, 197 P.3d 127 (2008) (machinery manufacture not liable for asbestos products it did not install or specify on its product).
Braaten v. Saberhagen Holdings, 165 Wn.2d 373, 198 P.3d 493 (2008) (manufacturers owed no duty to warn of the danger of exposure to asbestos-containing insulation that was manufactured and supplied by third parties).
Sales v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 138 Wn. App. 222, 156 P.3d 303 (2007), aff’d, 163 Wn.2d 14, 177 P.3d 1122 (2008) (trial court improperly dismissed action by Arkansas mesothelioma against Washington corporation without conditioning dismissal on defendant’s pledge to litigate claim in Arkansas state court).
Washington Court of Appeals
CBS Corp. v. Ulbricht, 79490-6-I, 2020 WL 622940, at *1 (Wash. Ct. App. Feb. 10, 2020) (affirming trial court’s reasonableness determination of $4.5 million covenant judgment settlement between mesothelioma victim and oil service contractor).
Leren v. Kaiser Gypsum Co., Inc., 442 P.3d 273 (Wash. Ct. App. 2019), as amended on denial of reconsideration (Aug. 8, 2019), review denied sub nom.Leren v. Elementis Chemicals, Inc., 194 Wn.2d 1017, 455 P.3d 133 (2020) (Trial court properly found that Elementis Chemical is the corporate successor to Benson Chemical which supplied asbestos fiber to factory where mesothelioma victim worked).
Brandes v. Brand Insulations, Inc., 74554-9-I, 2018 WL 2418481 (Wash. Ct. App. May 29, 2018), review denied, 192 Wn.2d 1004, 430 P.3d 251 (2018) (judgment on personal injury claim extinguishes subsequent wrongful death action arising out of same injury).
Estate of Brandes v. Brand Insulations, Inc., 197 Wn. App. 1043 (2017) (employer owed duty of care to protect household members of its asbestos-exposed employees from “take home” exposures and trial court erred in reducing $3.5 million jury awarded to mesothelioma victim exposed while washing husband’s contaminated work clothes).
Kalahar v. Alcoa, Inc., 189 Wn. App. 1043 (2015) (mesothelioma victim failed to establish certain injury to trigger deliberate injury exception to workers compensation immunity).
Ehlert v. Brand Insulations, Inc., 183 Wn. App. 1006 (2014) (contractor who installed asbestos insulation not subject to strict product liability absent evidence that contractor was engaged in business of selling beyond its discrete contracting activity).
Kennedy v. Saberhagen Holdings, Inc., 182 Wn. App. 1031 (2014) (mesothelioma victim who worked around asbestos while serving in the National Guard marshalled sufficient evidence to create a fact issue that he was exposed to asbestos supplied by Tacoma Asbestos supplied asbestos.
Montaney v. J-M Mfg. Co., Inc., 178 Wn. App. 541, 314 P.3d 1144 (2013) (retired water and sewer district worker with mesothelioma whose job duties included repairing and maintaining asbestos concrete (A/C) pipe who could not specifically recall sellers of the pipe created a fact issue based on evidence that the defendant seller was one of several suppliers during the period of the plaintiffs exposure.
Arnold v. Saberhagen Holdings, Inc., 159 Wn. App. 1025 (2011) (shipyard owner has duty to maintain safe workplace for independent insulation contractors and protect family members from “take home” asbestos exposures from work clothes contaminated on its premises).
Payne v. Saberhagen Holdings, Inc., 147 Wn. App. 17, 190 P.3d 102 (2008) (plaintiff could not establish liability under product line successorship doctrine where surviving corporation did continue to sell the predecessor’s product.
Taylor v. Union Carbide Corp., 147 Wn. App. 1017 (2008) (evidence that Union Carbide was one of several asbestos fiber suppliers to manufacturers of joint compound was sufficient to create a fact issue that the mesothelioma victim was exposed to Union Carbide fiber while working around joint compound).
Rochon v. Saberhagen Holdings, Inc., 140 Wn. App. 1008 (2007) (recognizing for the first time that employer owed duty of care to protect household members of its asbestos-exposed employees from “take home” exposure through contaminated work clothes).
Clare v. Saberhagen Holdings, Inc., 125 Wn. App. 1033 (2005) (three-year statute of limitations triggered when mesothelioma victim placed on notice of potential legal. claim).
Fox v. Alcoa, Inc., 130 Wn. App. 1054 (2005) (trial court did not abuse discretion in declining to give adverse inference instruction based on Alcoa’s intentional discovery violation).
Oregon Court of Appeals
McKenzie v. A.W. Chesterson Co., 277 Or. App. 728, 373 P.3d 150 (2016) (“bare metal defense” did not bar strict product liability claim and triable issues existed regarding whether manufacturer expected that replacement parts would likely contain asbestos, precluding summary judgment on strict liability claim).
United States Court of Appeals-Ninth Circuit
Stephens v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 935 F.3d 852 (9th Cir. 2019) (causation opinions by plaintiff’s experts insufficient to defeat summary judgment where assumptions inadequately supported by evidence).
United States v. Trident Seafoods Corp., 92 F.3d 855 (9th Cir. 1996) (award of costs to defendant following government’s rejection of Offer of Judgment did not include attorney fees where government was not unreasonable in prosecuting claims for violation of Clean Air Act asbestos regulations).
United States v. Trident Seafoods Corp., 60 F.3d 556 (9th Cir. 1995) (abatement contractor’s renovator’s failure to notify officials of its intent to remove asbestos subjected it to a penalty for only a single violation, not a continuous violation penalty).
- Montesquieu’s Theory of Governed and the Framing of the American Constitution 18 Pepperdine Law Review 1 (1991)
- Status, Contract, and History: A Dialectical View, 13 Cardozo L. Rev. 171 (1991)
- Dissent in the Judicial Process: Discord in Service of Harmony, 68 Denver University Law Review 79 (1991) a Flat (October 24, 2009)
- The Roads of Africa: Moving Beyond the Tragedy of the Commons (November 10, 2010). The Huffington Post.
- To Save the World (January 13, 2010). The Huffington Post.
- To Fix a Flat (October 24, 2009).The Huffington Post.
- A Thousand Shillings (April 7, 2009). The Huffington Post.
- An Afternoon on the Mara (November 3, 2008). The Huffington Post.
- Oregon State Bar Association
- King County Bar Association
- Kitsap County Bar Association
- Multnomah Bar Association
- Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association
- Oregon Trial Lawyers Association
- American Association for Justice
- Washington State Association for Justice
Recognition, Awards and Honors
- Washington Law & Politics, Super Lawyer (2005-2010)
- Democratic National Convention Delegate (2000, 2004, 2008)
- Political Organizer for the AFL-CIO, Voter Registration and Education Campaigns
- National Trial Lawyers – Top 100
- Lewis & Clark Law School Distinguished Graduate Award 2009
- Washington Super Lawyers 2005-2022