Personal Best

Todd Gardner has a phenomenal track record of million-dollar verdicts for injured clients

Published in 2008 Washington Super Lawyers Magazine — June 2008

Todd Gardner has a track record that would make any personal injury lawyer proud. 

An example: In 2005, plaintiffs prevailed in only two medical negligence cases in Washington state, according to Gardner’s research in Jury Verdicts Northwest—one of which was a Snohomish County case Gardner brought against a hospital and a physician. The lawsuit claimed the hospital negligently failed to detect that an unborn child was bleeding into its mother’s body, a failure that caused the child’s death. Gardner, with Swanson Gardner, landed a $17 million verdict for the single mother. 

Over the years, Gardner, who’s practiced in Renton since 1982, has tried dozens of cases, many of them jury trials involving serious automobile collisions. On his firm’s Web site he proclaims, “In the last 10 years, I have obtained million-dollar verdicts for more clients than any other attorney in the state of Washington.” Gardner bases this on his research in Jury Verdicts Northwest, which lists attorney-reported civil verdicts and settlements. 

Gardner’s biggest challenge in trying a personal injury case, he says, is the first day of trial. “I have to establish the trust and rapport of the jury, which comes in cynical about what I do for a living.” They must be convinced he will not mislead them. 

Another challenge is money. Typical of personal injury lawyers, Gardner doesn’t  get a payday from a case unless he wins. In the Snohomish County case, it cost nearly a half-million dollars just to get to trial. However, when he wins or settles a case, especially a multi-million-dollar one, he tells his four paralegals, tongue-in-cheek, “We’ll make payroll.” 

Gardner has practiced with his partner, Art Swanson, since 1982. “We’ve been together longer than most marriages,” he says. His marriage to his wife, Polly, a registered nurse/nurse practitioner, is an exception; it’s lasted for nearly 29 years. 

Like most trial lawyers, Gardner has a favorite case. It pitted a young girl and her parents against a Seattle hospital. Their lawsuit charged that a hospital midwife was negligent at the girl’s birth, damaging spinal cord nerves that resulted in a loss of function in an arm and hand. When the jury announced the $2.6 million verdict, Gardner recalls, the mother let out a “moan and a sob.” Knowing the mom would be able to care for her child was a moment, he says, that was “genuinely magic.” 

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