- Yale University (B.A. in philosophy, 1986)
- University of Washington (J.D. with high honors, 1998)
Clerked for Judge John C. Coughenour, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Sargent represents clients in complex, high-stakes lawsuits in courts throughout the United States. He has years of experience litigating disputes involving cryptocurrency and digital assets. In addition to his cryptocurrency work, Sargent has represented plaintiffs and defendants in a wide range of commercial disputes, from patent infringement to breach of contract and business torts. He has served as litigation counsel to the estate or to major claimants in some of the largest bankruptcies in the country over the past fifteen years. Sargent has been with Susman Godfrey since 2000 and has been a partner since 2005. He has been named a “SuperLawyer” by Washington Law and Politics each year since 2014.
Sargent brought one of the first significant lawsuits in the United States involving the digital currency bitcoin when he was hired by the Seattle company CoinLab to sue the Japanese exchange MtGox. In the suit, filed in May 2013, CoinLab seeks to enforce a $50 million liquidated damages clause in a contract with MtGox. Under the contract, CoinLab was to serve as the exclusive bitcoin exchange agent for MtGox in the United States and Canada. When MtGox filed for bankruptcy in Japan in 2014, the CoinLab dispute was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Japanese bankruptcy court. The dispute is ongoing in that forum and Sargent has provided several submissions through CoinLab’s Japanese counsel to the bankruptcy court explaining relevant United States legal principles and advocating for CoinLab’s claim.
Sargent’s experience with digital assets and cryptocurrency has continued since filing the CoinLab/MtGox case. He has represented a Seattle-based digital asset consulting firm in a number of confidential disputes. He also represents the plaintiffs in a putative class action against the bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining company GAW Miners alleging securities fraud and related claims. That case is ongoing in Federal District Court for the District of Connecticut.
In 2017, Sargent was the lead trial lawyer for the real estate website Zillow in a three-week jury trial in Federal District Court in Seattle. The case was brought by Chicago-based real estate photography company VHT, which sought $50 million in damages based on allegations that Zillow had infringed VHT’s copyrights in tens of thousands of photographs. Sargent and his Susman Godfrey colleagues Ian Crosby, Genevieve Wallace, and Jenna Farleigh obtained orders dismissing the majority of VHT’s claims in pre- and post- trial motions. The remaining claims in the case are still being litigated.
In 2014, the City of Seattle retained Sargent to defend the City’s new minimum wage law from a Constitutional challenge. The case was filed by former United States Solicitor General Paul Clement on behalf of a franchise trade organization and several franchise businesses. In the Complaint, these businesses allege that Seattle’s minimum wage law violates the Equal Protection Clause, the Dormant Commerce Clause, and several other provisions of the United States and Washington State Constitutions. In a fifty-page order, the District Court rejected the plaintiffs’ motion seeking to enjoin the minimum wage law from taking effect. After the Ninth Circuit upheld that ruling and the United State Supreme Court denied the plaintiff’s petition for certiorari, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case.
Bankruptcies in which Sargent has represented significant parties include Washington Mutual (representing the Equity Committee), Hostess (the baker’s union), Tom Petters’ Ponzi scheme (major creditors), Chrysler (the estate), Lehman Brothers (Lehman’s European brokerage), Metropolitan Mortgage/Summit Securities (the estate), and Boston Chicken (D&O insurer).
Sargent’s successful representation of Washington Mutual’s Equity Committee was widely reported in the press, including Reuters, Blooomberg, and the Wall Street Journal. In two multi-week plan-confirmation hearings, Sargent served as co-lead trial counsel, opposing plans that would have wiped out shareholders. Although both plans were supported by the debtor and by all major creditors, the Court rejected both plans after the trials. Sargent then negotiated terms of a new plan that distributed over $100 million in value to shareholders, including 90% ownership of the reorganized debtor.
Sargent has represented bankruptcy estates in litigating audit malpractice, fraudulent conveyance, officer and director liability, and breach of contract claims. He has led investigations by estates into potential claims in each of these areas as well as securities violations and other causes of action. He has litigated matters in bankruptcy courts across the United States, including Arizona, Washington State, Delaware, and the Southern District of New York.
Sargent is based in Seattle but he represents clients in courts across the United States. A more complete list of Sargent’s cases is available below.