Directory Profile

Denis Stearns

Denis Stearns

For over 25 years, Denis has been an accomplished attorney, focusing on litigation on behalf of businesses and individuals, in federal and state courts all across the United States. After establishing his reputation as a skilled advocate and strategist in the multi-state litigation arising from the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak, he was a founding partner of the renowned and groundbreaking law firm, Marler Clark, based in Seattle.

Denis worked as a partner at Marler Clark for thirteen years, handling all things litigation-related, in both state and federal court, all across the country. He earned a well-deserved reputation as an astute strategist, using all aspects of the pretrial process to advance and protect the interests of the firm's clients. He is especially well known, and respected, for his skills in creating and implementing the most effective discovery plans, and for motion-practice and brief-writing. He also handled all of the appellate work for the firms, notably winning an appeal that protected a multi-million-dollar jury verdict in a lawsuits against a school district in Washington state, and gaining the reversal of a trial court's ruling that had dismissed the claims of victims injured in an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak at two Milwaukee-area Sizzler restaurants. The latter appeal was argued all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, creating important legal precedent concerning the legal liability of meat manufacturers.

Denis left Marler Clark in 2011 to become a full-time professor at Seattle University School of Law, where he taught the first- and second-year legal writing courses, as well as torts, products liability, and food law and policy. He returned to Marler Clark as an Of Counsel attorney in the summer of 2014, while remaining an Adjunct Professor teaching food law. He continues to work with Marler Clark on selected cases involving class action lawsuits and federal court litigation, especially those cases arising from Hepatitis A outbreaks.

Denis now has his own specialized one-person, somewhat part-time law practice, Stearns Law, PLLC, an Artisanal Law Firm in Port Townsend, Washington. In this new chapter, Denis focuses on pro bono legal work, advising local small businesses and nonprofit organizations, and consulting on compliance and other regulatory issues for larger food companies and select start-ups.

Denis is a widely-published author and frequent speaker on a wide array of topics related to food, law, and policy. For a list of his recent book chapters and law review articles, visit Stearns Law, PLLC, Accomplishments and Experience.

Denis graduated from Seattle University, where he earned a 4.0 GPA and degree in philosophy. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin School of Law with high honors. Along with Bill Marler, he teaches the extremely popular LL.M. course, Food Safety Litigation.