1-206-467-5444 info@letherlaw.com

Standing Together for Maui: Lether Law Group’s Commitment to Wildfire Relief

 Aloha Friends, Families, and Clients,

 As a native of Maui and a resident of Lahaina, witnessing the devastation caused by the recent wildfires has deeply affected me, the landscapes now scarred by the flames are the places I grew up in and the home that I now share with my own Family. When the land you’ve grown up on faces such adversity, it’s not just news – it’s personal.

 Growing up on Maui, I was surrounded by a community that lived and breathed the values of unity, resilience, and the Aloha spirit. Today, more than ever, these values guide our response to the challenges faced by our beloved Homeland.

 I am proud to say that several Attorneys at Lether Law Group are from the State of Hawaii. For them, and for me, this initiative is more than just a fundraiser; this is a heartfelt effort to give back to the communities and lands that have given us so much.

About the Maui Strong Fund

The Maui Strong Fund, an initiative spearheaded by the Hawaii Community Foundation, has been established to provide rapid resources in times of disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. As Maui faces the brunt of devastating wildfires, this fund is currently channeling its efforts to support the affected communities and the recovery of the Island’s cherished landscapes. The Hawaii Community Foundation, through the Maui Strong Fund, collaborates closely with state and county leaders, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and philanthropists to ensure immediate and effective response to emerging needs.

 Our Commitment

 Given my deep-rooted connection and the ties of our attorneys to Hawaii, we felt the call to action. As the founder of Lether Law Group, I pledge to match every donation you generously offer, dollar for dollar, up to $5,000. This initiative ensures that your support has double the impact, fortifying our collective efforts for the Maui Strong Fund. Based upon my national and international business relationships within the insurance industry, we are confident that we can obtain significant contributions.

 Beyond our donation initiative, myself, our Hawaii licensed Attorneys, and our Lahaina office are providing Pro Bono (free advice) to residents seeking assistance from FEMA, government agencies, and property and auto insurers. During my 35 years of practicing law, I have handled several significant wildfire claims and hundreds of other fire losses. I am approved as a FEMA Regional Counsel and regularly represent national and international insurers in natural disaster claims. 

Lether Law Group combines the financial commitment of Lether Law Group with our extensive expertise in disaster claims and legal counsel. This makes us able to provide comprehensive support. Through both direct monetary aid and Pro Bono services, our collective endeavors ensure that those affected in Maui receive timely, effective, and compassionate relief in their moment of need.

Your Role 

Each donation, no matter its size, can pave the way for monumental change. By contributing, you’ll be directly aiding disaster relief, supporting families as they rebuild, and playing a part in restoring the captivating allure of Maui and its surrounding islands.

I urge you to share this fundraiser with your acquaintances and loved ones, for in unity lies our strength. Together, we can reinforce the unyielding spirit of Maui and contribute to its rejuvenation.

Every penny raised will be wholeheartedly donated to the Hawaii Community Foundation’s ‘Maui Strong Fund’. 

With utmost gratitude and on behalf of everyone at Lether Law Group, I thank you for your magnanimity, compassion, and shared devotion to Hawaii’s splendor.

Mahalo nui loa (Thank you very much), 

 For further information about the endeavors of the Hawaii Community Foundation’s “Maui Strong Fund,” please visit their official website:


Thoughts and Prayers to our Maui and Big Island Ohana

The Lether Law Group ohana sends our thoughts and prayers to our family, friends, clients, and all those affected by the fires on Maui and the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. Witnessing the devastation and seeing those who have been affected is truly heartbreaking. Hawaiʻi is home for many of us and will always hold a special place in our hearts. We send our aloha to the people of Hawaiʻi. Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina I ka Pono – The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.

For those who are willing and able to support our Hawaiʻi ohana, please see the resources linked below on how to help. Mahalo nui loa for your support.

Construction Defects In Tropical Environments

Building failures can result from a number of causes. A failure can be explained as much by weather as bad construction. For example, ice dams resulting in water and roof damage are common in colder regions. As a result, it is essential to be aware of the interaction between construction deficiencies and the environment in order to address weather-related failures.

The takeaway in many instances is that certain types of construction do not work in certain weather conditions. This is readily apparent in the tropics. For example, wood frame structures are subject to failure in regions of high heat, rain, and humidity. Steel or concrete construction is preferable.

Another example is the improper use of stucco in a tropical green environment. Exposure to marine air, salts and elevated temperatures can cause effervescence in stucco and concrete requiring the replacement of the entire building envelope.

Stucco corrosion of property in Hawaii due to exposure to marine and high temperatures

Another everyday exposure in tropical climates is marine oxidation of exterior metal. Systems such as window frames, window door frames, and metal hardware exposed to salt, marine air and high heat routinely corrode. Finally, temperature inversion, the relationship between hot outside air and interior air cooled by air conditioning and HVAC systems can lead to numerous defects.

For all these reasons, it is essential to consider what building materials and types of construction should be used in tropical conditions.

Lether Law Group’s Hawaii Office Is currently involved in several construction defect matters in Hawaii. We are proud to have several attorneys born or raised in Hawaii and licensed to practice there.

Lether Law Group has the advantage of over 35 years of construction insurance coverage and litigation experience, coupled with local know-how and an affinity for Hawaii.

If you are involved in any construction claims in Hawaii or other tropical zones, feel free to contact us with any questions.

Oregon to Permit Substantial Extra-Contractual Claims for Insureds

CAs of January 1, 2024, Oregon insurance law will experience a paradigm shift—for the first time, Oregon will allow insureds to present a meaningful and substantial extra-contractual claim for damages.

After the resolution of a legislative impasse that threatened to derail the entire legislative session, the Oregon State Senate returned to business this week and advanced a series of bills to the governor’s desk. Included amongst them was House Bill 3242, which amends Oregon’s Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act (ORS 746.230) to allow a private right of action for insureds to recover actual damages, treble damages, attorney fees, and litigation costs for an insurer’s unreasonable conduct in violation of the act.

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek is expected to sign the bill in the coming weeks.

Once signed and in effect, an insured may bring a cause of action under ORS 746.230 for violation of the statute, which identifies familiar unfair claim settlement practices such as the following:


(a)        Misrepresenting facts or policy provisions in settling claims;

. . .

(d)        Refusing to pay claims without conducting a reasonable investigation based on all available information;

. . .

(g)        Compelling claimants to initiate litigation to recover amounts due by offering substantially less than  amounts ultimately recovered in actions brought by such claimants;

. . .

The statute does contain two important exceptions. The statute does not allow a suit to be brought on medical malpractice claims. The statute also specifically excludes claims against attorneys, “in the attorney’s personal capacity,” for any acts taken on behalf of an insurer.

The statute also contains a 45-day notice requirement with an opportunity to cure on the part of the insurer.

Regarding treble damages, the statute is explicit in stating that the decision whether to award treble damages rests with the “court”. This would appear to signal that, as a practical matter, trebling would be subject to post-trial motions practice. However, it should be noted that in other jurisdictions, the Federal Courts have held that trebling must be decided by a jury as a matter of United States Constitutional Law. This is an issue certain to be litigated as policyholders and insurers begin confronting the practical impacts of the new statute.

Finally, the statute will carry a two-year statute of limitations. The statute is triggered not on the date of the loss, but on the date of the alleged violation of the statute.

House Bill 3243, which would have amended Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act (UTPA) to create yet another private cause of action for insureds, died in committee.

Lether Law Group has attorneys licensed and actively practicing in the State of Oregon.  To the extent that you have any questions about Oregon law, please feel free to contact Tom Lether or Eric Neal at (855) 467-5444 .

Pride in Practice: Upholding Ethical Standards at Lether Law Group

As many of you are aware, there have been several recent news stories showcasing the various levels of workplace misconduct from a large national law firm. The in-depth reporting highlights the dangers of profound greed and leveraging the assistance of clients to better one’s firm. These actions are stimulated by immoral company culture and a lack of leadership.

At Lether Law, we take pride in our team-oriented ethos; each action we commit displays a vision. Whether that be our work with our clients or weekly employee softball games, everything we do at Lether Law centers around our Ohana (family).



Lether Law Group Enjoying our Annual Softball team games together.

Whenever someone steps foot into our office, the first thing they see is a giant sign relaying the company’s central message– The Canoe Theory. The principle of the message states everyone needs to show up and paddle, or the boat does not move forward. The underlying mantra also communicates that we care for each other by showing loyalty and respect.

Lether Law Group espouses the goal of Pono, which in Hawaiian means doing the right thing. We all take fulfillment in our actions of ourselves and how they reflect upon the company.

We PRIDE ourselves on being an equal opportunity employer and respect every employee’s unique qualities.

To read more blog posts from Lether Law Group, please visit our News & Updates page.


Washington State Court of Appeals New Decision On Covenant Judgments

On January 30, 2023, Division One of the Washington State Court of Appeals issued a published opinion further addressing covenant judgments in Washington. In Garza v. Perry, No. 83377-4-I, 2023 Wash. App. LEXIS 144, at *8 (Ct. App. Jan. 30, 2023), the Court of Appeals issued a decision primarily holding that an insurer cannot nullify a stipulated settlement based on mutual release language in the agreement because the insurer is not a party to the agreement.

The Garza case arose out of a motor vehicle accident. After failed negotiation attempts with the defendant’s insurer, the plaintiffs and defendant entered into a stipulated settlement with a covenant judgment in the amount of $2.5M and an assignment of rights against the defendant’s insurer. The settlement agreement contained a paragraph that stated the parties would mutually release each other including from the assignment of rights if the insurer provided written proof that it would fully indemnify defendant from any final judgment.  As required, the parties sent a copy of the settlement agreement to the insurer with an email offering to settle for $2.5M if paid within 10 business days.

The insurer did not agree to pay the $2.5M, but instead waived its limits and advised that it would indemnify the defendant for any judgment. Based on that letter, the insurer asserted that Plaintiffs’ and Defendant had therefore mutually released each other. The parties to the agreement disagreed and made a written addendum to their agreement to accurately reflect the actual meeting of the minds. Nevertheless, the insurer intervened and asserted that it had a valid settlement agreement with the parties.

The trial court rejected the argument and the Court of Appeals affirmed on appeal. The Court of Appeals noted that purpose of a covenant judgment is to protect the insured from the bad faith of an insurer. It does not form a contract with the insurer or for the insurer’s benefit. The Court also rejected the insurer’s argument because the agreement as a whole, including the written reformation, evidenced that the agreement was only between Plaintiffs and Defendants and also required that the intent was to only release the covenant judgment if the insurer agreed to pay the $2.5M.

The insurer also attempted to attack the trial court’s reasonableness determination on appeal based upon three arguments: 1) that the trial court had made oral statements regarding a lack of basis for the $2.5M amount at the reasonableness hearing; 2) that the Plaintiffs’ experts were not credible. and 3) that there was no substantial evidence supporting the conclusion that the agreement was not the product of collusion and fraud. All three arguments were rejected on appeal.

With respect to the oral statements of the trial judge, the Court of Appeals reiterated Washington law that a trial court’s oral statements have no binding effect unless explicitly incorporated into the court’s written order. The statements at issue were not incorporated into the order and, as such, were treated as having no import on the case.

The second and third arguments were effectively rejected for the same reason. Specifically, they were rejected because the substantial evidence review standard for review of reasonableness hearings requires the appellate court to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party.  

The bad faith evidence argument was rejected because there was evidence that the settlement agreement was subject to review, revisions, and input by independent coverage counsel. The credibility argument was also rejected because a factfinder’s credibility determination are not subject to review under the substantial evidence standard.

The Garza case provides a two main takeaways for any insurer facing a covenant judgment. First, collateral attacks on the language of the covenant judgment settlement agreement are unlikely to prevail because an insurer is not a party to the agreement. Second, the standard of appellate review for reasonableness hearings is a difficult standard to overcome on appeal.

Because of this, an insurer that fails to fully develop the record at a reasonableness hearing runs the significant risk of being unable to successfully challenge a reasonableness finding on appeal. As a result, insurers need to be fully prepared to fully present their case at any reasonableness hearing. Moreover, insurers and insurer counsel should specifically request that the judge explicitly incorporate any helpful oral statements into its final order.

Lether Law Group has been successfully defending insurers against covenant judgments before the trial court and on appeal for more than 30 years. If you would like to discuss covenant judgment defense or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.