Steve Rummage represents clients in complex litigation and appeals, with an emphasis on class action defense. In more than 35 years of practice, he has defended a variety of matters, including consumer class actions, securities fraud claims, right of publicity actions, complex contract disputes, and construction matters. His work has included leading roles in some of the region’s most significant litigation, ranging from the Washington Public Power Supply System bond default in the 1980s, the Exxon Valdez oil spill litigation in the 1990s, and the Washington Mutual Securities Litigation in the most recent decade.
Steve represents clients from a variety of industries, including software, financial services, telecommunications, digital media, leisure travel, and major league sports. In addition to his trial practice, Steve has argued dozens of appeals in state and federal courts, including high profile cases that established Washington law on issues ranging from class actions to securities to land use. He is widely regarded as one of the region’s most effective oral advocates.
Class Action Experience
Baker v. Microsoft Corp.
Representing Microsoft in putative nationwide products liability class action alleging same defects in the Xbox 360 console. Court granted motion to strike class allegations, and the 9th Circuit denied review. After plaintiffs dismissed voluntarily and appealed from the dismissal, the 9th Circuit reversed the order striking class allegations. The U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari to decide whether appellate courts have jurisdiction over appeals from voluntary dismissals following class certification denials. (W.D. Wash., Ongoing)
Ryan v. Microsoft Corp.
Represented Microsoft in putative antitrust class action alleging Microsoft conspired with other high-technology companies, particularly in Silicon Valley, to suppress employee wages. Court granted Microsoft’s motion to dismiss with prejudice, after first allowing plaintiffs to re-plead. (N.D. Cal., 2016)
Geier v. m-Qube, Inc.
Representing former aggregator of premium short message services in putative class action alleging violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act based on alleged “cramming” of PSMS charges on cell phone bills. Court denied motion for class certification. Petition for leave to appeal to 9th Circuit and renewed motion for class certification pending. (W.D. Wash., Ongoing)
Bleak v. Spotify
Represented Spotify in putative California class action litigation alleging violation of California statute governing subscription disclosures. Successfully moved to compel individual arbitration. (N.D. Cal. 2014)
Cousineau v. Microsoft Corporation
Represented Microsoft in putative nationwide class action litigation alleging violation of Electronic Communications Privacy Act and other statutes arising from collection of location information through Windows Phone mobile operating system. Won dismissal of most claims on motion to dismiss. After discovery, won summary judgment on remaining claim. (W.D. Wash. 2014)
Minnick v. Clearwire LLC
Successfully defended proposed class litigation alleging misrepresentation of the quality of internet services, inferior service, and improper early termination fees. District court dismissed. On appeal, 9th Circuit certified issue to Washington Supreme Court, which agreed with the district court that early termination fees were permissible alternative performance provisions. Case then settled on favorable basis. (W.D. Wash. 2010; Wash. S. Ct. 2012)
Bower/Stoican v. Verizon Wireless
Obtained orders compelling arbitration and enforcing class action waivers on behalf of national wireless carrier. Appeals to 9th Circuit dismissed voluntarily. (W.D. Wash./C.D. Cal., 2011)
Johnson v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.
Represented Countrywide and Bank of America in putative class action alleging that various fees violated the Washington Consumer Loan Act. After district court dismissed with leave to re-plead, succeeded in obtaining an order dismissing the case with prejudice. 9th Circuit affirmed dismissal. (W.D. Wash. 2011)
Kelley v. Microsoft Corporation
Defended Microsoft in litigation challenging “Windows Vista Capable” marketing program, which preceded release of the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system in early 2007. Nationwide class certified, then decertified after the close of discovery in February 2009. After partial reversal and remand by the 9th Circuit, class certification again denied. (W.D. Wash., 2011)
Fee claims against national wireless carrier
Represented wireless carrier in putative nationwide and California-only class actions in Washington and California, alleging the carrier breached contracts and violated consumer protection statutes when it passed-through federal fees that subsidize phone service for underserved areas. Courts dismissed each proposed class action with prejudice, and 9th Circuit affirmed. (W.D. Wash., N.D. Cal. 2010)
In re Park West Galleries Marketing & Sales Practices Litigation
Defended two international cruise lines in multidistrict class litigation concerning marketing and sales practices for on-board art auctions. Successfully moved to dismiss all claims based on contractual limitations periods. (W.D. Wash. 2010)
In re Xbox 360 Scratched Disc Litigation
Represented Microsoft in putative nationwide products liability class action alleging defects in the Xbox 360 console. Court denied class certification in October 2009, and the Ninth Circuit denied review. See 2009 WL 481325. (W.D. Wash. 2010)
Sypolt v. The Talon Group, LLC
Represented escrow company against putative class claims of breach of contract, breach of duties as fiduciary and agent, Consumer Protection violation, and unjust enrichment. Court granted summary judgment on all claims. (W.D. Wash. 2009)
Blaylock v. First American Title Company
Represented the nation's largest title insurer in a putative consumer class action alleging title insurers violated state and federal law by giving 'inducements' to referral sources to secure title insurance business. Court dismissed all claims for plaintiffs' lack of standing. 2008 WL 8741396 (W.D. Wash. 2008)
Estate of Robert S. Felts v. Genworth Life Ins. Co.
Defeated motion for certification of a nationwide class for state law claims arising out of the sale of single premium fixed annuities. (W.D. Wash., 2008) Read more
Selected Securities Litigation Experience
FutureSelect Portfolio Management, Inc. v. Tremont Group Holdings, Inc.
Defended international accounting firm against claims of alleged negligent misrepresentation and breach of the Washington State Securities Act arising from investments in Madoff feeder funds. After Supreme Court reversed dismissal of claims, co-chaired a four week trial. The jury returned a defense verdict on Securities Act claims, found the plaintiff 50 percent at fault, and awarded less than 10 percent of amount sought. (King Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct., 2015)
Kuhnle v. Clearwire
Represented acquired company in Washington derivative action seeking to block Sprint’s acquisition of Clearwire. Successfully moved for stay of case in deference to parallel action pending in Delaware. Plaintiffs then stipulated to dismissal with prejudice. (King Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct. 2013)
Gordon v. Microsoft Corporation
Defended Microsoft and its Board against claims of a putative class of shareholders seeking to enjoin annual meeting based on allegedly inadequate proxy disclosures concerning executive pay and employee incentive compensation plan. After Microsoft filed a motion to dismiss, plaintiff dismissed with prejudice. (King Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct. 2012)
In re SonoSite Shareholder Litigation
Represented acquirer in defending class claims brought by shareholders seeking to enjoin acquisition of SonoSite by FujiFilm Holdings Corp. Case resolved on the basis of enhanced disclosures in proxy statement. (King Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct. 2012)
In re Washington Mutual Securities, Derivative and ERISA Litigation
Represented Washington Mutual officers in multidistrict class action litigation and tag-along cases pending in federal district court in the Western District of Washington involving securities claims arising from collapse of housing market and FDIC seizure of WAMU assets. Appointed by court as sole liaison counsel for all defendants. Case settled after four years of litigation. (W.D. Wash., 2011)
In re Zymogenetics Shareholder Litigation
Represented acquirer in defending class claims brought by shareholders seeking to enjoin acquisition of Zymogenetics by Bristol-Myers-Squibb. Case resolved on the basis of enhanced disclosures in proxy statement. (King Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct. 2011)
South Ferry LP, No. 2 v. Killinger
Defended officers of Washington Mutual against claims arising from alleged flaws in hedging strategies. Case resolved through settlement after five years of litigation, substantial motion practice and proceedings in 9th Circuit. (W.D. Wash. 2011)
Selected Appellate Experience
Frias v. Asset Foreclosure Services
On certified question from federal district court, persuaded Washington Supreme Court that borrowers may not state a claim for damages under the Washington Deed of Trust Act (DTA) for a violation of the DTA in the absence of a completed trustee's sale of real property. 181 Wash.2d 412, 334 P.3d 529 (2014)
Volcan Group v. Omnipoint Communications, Inc.
Successfully defended appeal from district court order dismissing multimillion-dollar claims based on discovery abuse and spoliation. 552 Fed.Appx. 644 (9th Cir., 2014)
Washington State Major League Baseball Public Facilities District v. Huber, Hunt & Nichols-Kiewit Constr. Co.
Represented Safeco Field’s owner and its tenant, the Seattle Mariners, in two appeals arising from dismissals of claims against contractor for latent defects in fireproofing coatings. In first appeal, persuaded the Supreme Court that statute of limitations did not apply, as the action had been brought for the benefit of the State. 165 Wash.2d 679, 202 P.3d 924 (2009). In second appeal, persuaded a unanimous Supreme Court that parties’ contract made statute of repose inapplicable. 176 Wash.2d 502, 296 P.3d 821 (2013)
Balen v. Holland America Line - Rummage, Stephen M.
Argued and won leading 9th Circuit case involving arbitrability of claims under Seaman's Wage Act, as 9th Circuit affirmed dismissal of putative class action based on contract requiring arbitration in the Philippines, seaman's home country. 583 F.3d 647 (9th Cir. 2009)
Hallam v. Holland America Line
Prevailed before the Alaska Supreme Court on novel class action claim concerning the so-called 'pyramiding' method of computing overtime for hours worked in excess of eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. 180 P.3d 955 (Alas. 2008)
Hearst Communications v. The Seattle Times Company - Rummage, Stephen M.
Argued and won a unanimous Washington Supreme Court decision on threshold issue of contract interpretation in litigation filed by the Hearst Corporation regarding the Joint Operating Agreement under which the Seattle Times Company published both The Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 154 Wash.2d 493, 115 P.3d 262 (2005)
Pickett v. Holland America Line - Westours Inc.
Argued and won seminal case in Washington Supreme Court, upholding approval of class action settlement and establishing Washington law on class action settlement standards. 145 Wash.2d 178, 35 P.3d 351 (2001)