Patricia Buchanan

Patricia K. Buchanan

Direct: 206.462.6703
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Founding Principal

Admitted to practice in Washington and Oregon

Practice Area

Ms. Buchanan defends both public entities and private clients in complex cases. Her clients have included counties, cities, school districts, and private entities in cases involving claims of catastrophic personal injury including paraplegia, quadriplegia, and brain damage; negligent supervision, negligent hiring and retention, and premises liability; employment discrimination, breach of contract, wrongful discharge, constructive discharge, civil rights violations, sexual and racial discrimination and harassment, disability discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, and violations of Title VII or Title IX; and defamation and invasion of privacy. She also has substantial experience in drafting and implementing employer policies and handbooks, guiding employers through disability accommodation demands, as well as handling COBRA complaints and violations, collective bargaining grievances, and public employee disciplinary procedures, with special attention to due process probable cause matters.

Ms. Buchanan has significant litigation experience, including arguing appeals to the Washington Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Washington Court of Appeals. She has litigated high-profile trials, including the Mary Kay Letourneau case, and has represented numerous public entities in administrative proceedings before the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC), the federal Office of Civil Rights (OCR), and the Washington State Human Rights Commission (HRC).


  • University of Washington Business School, MBA, 2008
  • University of Oregon Law School, Juris Doctorate, 1990
  • University of Washington, BA in Political Science, 1987


  • United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Professional Memberships

  • Washington and Oregon Bar Associations
  • Delegate, Oregon State Bar House of Delegates
  • King County Bar Association
  • Washington Women Lawyers
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Council on Litigation Management
  • Washington Council of School Attorneys (WCOSA), past Board Member
  • Education Law Association 
  • Special Deputy Prosecutor, Lewis County
  • Special Deputy Prosecutor, San Juan County
  • Washington Women's Foundation (WWF)
  • Northwest Women's Initiative for Education
  • Member of Seattle Children's Hospital MLPC Advisory Board
  • International Municipal Lawyers Association
  • AGRIP Partner Member
  • American Bar Association Advisory Panel 2012 - present

Publications / Presentations / Speaking Engagements

Ms. Buchanan routinely gives presentations on a wide variety of employment law and litigation related topics. Information on some of her recent and upcoming speaking engagements is available here.

Honors and Awards

  • Ms. Buchanan is “AV” rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, its highest rating.  Early in her career she was aptly named one of Washington’s “Rising Star” attorneys by Law & Politics Magazine.
  • Selected as one of Puget Sound Business Journal's 2010 "Women of Influence

Representative Cases

 Jury Trials include:

  • Gambini v. DaVita – Employment disability discrimination and FMLA. Defense verdict.
  • Fualaau v. Highline School District (Re: Mary K. Letourneau) – Twelve year old male student, Vili Fualaau, had sexual relations with his former sixth grade teacher, Mary K. Letourneau, resulting in two children. Defense verdict for Highline School District.
  • Johnson v. Catholic Community Services – Wrongful adoption. Defense verdict.
  • Knittle v. Catholic Community Services – Wrongful adoption. Defense verdict.
  • Long and Davis v. Tacoma School District – Employment discrimination, whistleblower retaliation. Defense verdict.
  • Wright v. City of Gig Harbor – Personal injury. Plaintiff verdict for less than half what city had offered to settle case and avoid trial.

Reported Cases include:

  • McCormick v. Lake Washington S.D, 99 Wn. App. 107, 992 P.2d 51 (1999)
  • Gambini v. Total Renal Care, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (April 2007)
  • Gates v. Seattle Archdiocese, 103 Wn. App. 160, 10 P.3d 435 (2000)
  • Miller v. Campbell, Washington State Court of Appeals, Div. I (March 2007)
  • White v. Winthrop, 128 Wn. App. 588, 116 P.3d 1034 (2005)

Summary Judgment dismissals:

  • Frisino v. Seattle School District – King County Superior Court recently granted summary judgment to the Seattle School District dismissing all claims brought by a former teacher. The teacher alleged claims under Washington’s Law Against Discrimination including: failure to accommodate, disability discrimination, and retaliation.  Plaintiff claimed damages in excess of $1.5 million.  Plaintiff allegedly suffered from multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) and allergies to mold and other environmental irritants. After a multitude of accommodations culminating in a remediation project at the high school, plaintiff was ordered to return to work. When she failed to do so, she was terminated for job abandonment. The District moved for summary judgment pointing out that plaintiff could not make a prima facie case and further argued that the termination was a legitimate business decision for non-discriminatory reasons. The court agreed. Attorneys Patricia K. Buchanan and Scott H. Husbands represented the District in this matter.
  • Abel v. City of Algona - Negligent supervision, breach of contract and Title VII violation
  • McKerricher v. RadioShack – Sexual abuse by mall employee
  • Heidi Moon v. City of Bellevue – Sexual harassment, gender & disability discrimination, retaliation, failure to accommodate
  • Miller v. Campbell – Bankruptcy estoppel applied to childhood sexual abuse claim
  • Woolard v. Tacoma School District – Wrongful termination and retaliation
  • McCormick v. Lake Washington School District - Wrongful termination
  • Joe Smith v. Tacoma School District - Racial discrimination
  • Hunter v. Brown - Contractor liability
  • Gates v. Archdiocese of Seattle – Wrongful termination
  • Johnson/Green v. St. Joseph's – Racial discrimination
  • Walno v. Peninsula School District. – Wrongful termination
  • Wilson v. Okamoto – Medical malpractice
  • Young v. Anderson – Medical malpractice
  • Pollock v. Bellevue Square – Premises liability
  • Garcia v. Chec Medical Center – Medical malpractice
  • Tyner v. Hyde – Child abuse reporting statute
  • Tompkins v. Northwest Guardianship – Professional negligence
  • Hansen v. Archdiocese for Military Service – Alleged sexual improprieties of priest

Additional Cases:

  • Iversen v. Kent School District – Plaintiff claimed peer-on-peer sexual harassment, discrimination and violation of equal protection based on his perceived homosexuality. The matter was favorably resolved on the eve of trial in a settlement completely exonerating the District and its administrators.