What's Happening at Hart Wagner
- Trial Attorney Karen O'Kasey Obtains Directed Verdict in Marion County
- Attorney Stephanie Kucera Wins in Federal Court
- Appellate Attorney Janet Schroer Wins in the Oregon Court of Appeals
- Hart Wagner Wins in Oregon Supreme Court
- Appellate Attorney Janet Schroer Wins in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
In the first in-person civil jury trial in Marion County post-COVID, our defense team obtained a directed verdict in a wrongful death action against a medical provider.
Federal Magistrate Judge Mark D. Clarke granted all summary judgment motions filed by Hart Wagner in a $10M lawsuit filed by a former employee against one of our Southern Oregon business clients. Plaintiff’s claims included invasion of privacy, negligent release of confidential information, intentional infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference with contract, fraud, abuse of process, and malicious prosecution. Stephanie Kucera filed and argued a compilation of great motions to get the case dismissed in full. Our Hart Wagner team is thrilled to have achieved the right result for our deserving client.
Janet Schroer and the Hart Wagner appellate team won a reversal for plaintiff of a summary judgment entered by the trial court in favor of the defendant Oregon State Police (OSP). This is a wrongful death action brought by the estate of Box after he was shot by state troopers outside his home. The trial court’s grant of summary judgment to OSP was reversed on plaintiff’s negligence claim for negligent supervision and retention of an officer and trespass claims, and partial summary judgment on liability on the trespass claims was entered on appeal in favor of Box. The court found that the OSP officers were trespassing on Box’s property as a matter of law at the time of the shooting. In addition, the court rejected OSP’s contention arguments that the officers were protected by apparent authority immunity. Also rejected was OSP’s cross assignment of error that Box’s ORCP 47E declaration precluded summary judgment, and that there was no causation between OSP’s alleged wrongdoing the Box’s death. Box v. State of Oregon, Department of Oregon State Police.
Hart Wagner partner Matt Kalmanson won an appeal in the Oregon Supreme Court on an important procedural issue of first impression that will impact all attorneys in Oregon. The client had lost in the trial court, before the appellate commissioner, and then again in the Court of Appeals, with the result being the client’s appeal was dismissed. Matt Kalmanson took over in the Supreme Court, and with the assistance of Hart Wagner attorneys Ruth Rocker and Lindsay Duncan, procured a unanimous reversal in the client’s favor. Read Otnes v. PCC Structurals, Inc., decision.
Janet Schroer and the Hart Wagner appellate team won affirmance for defendant city and police officer of the trial court’s dismissal with prejudice of all of the multiple state and federal claims brought by the plaintiff Estate, and all claims but the ADA/Rehab Act claim asserted by plaintiff individually.
The Estate claimed defendants violated state and federal law in failing to take decedent into custody during manic episodes. He committed suicide several days later. The 9th Circuit held that the District Court properly dismissed with prejudice all of the Estate’s claims, including under the ADA and Rehab. Act, along with state law wrongful death statute, as there is no right to be arrested because of a disability, and no requirement to impose services on disabled individuals who do not desire help, and the defendants’ acts were not a substantial factor in decedent’s death. The court also held the defendants did not violate decedent’s substantive Due Process because the 14th Amendment does not confer an affirmative right to governmental aid.
The 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Dunlap’s procedural Due Process claim because Oregon’s mandatory arrest statute, ORS 133.055 did not create any property interest protected by Due Process.
The 9th Circuit reversed Dunlap’s associational claims under the ADA/Rehab Act, as she alleged sufficient facts to show that by reason of her husband’s disability, and her association with him, she was denied a benefit-arrest of her husband for domestic abuse- as mandated by Oregon law when defendant had probable cause to arrest decedent. Dunlap v. City of Sandy and Officer Hodges.
Janet Schroer and the Hart Wagner appellate team won reversal in the 9th Circuit of the District Court’s denial of qualified immunity to defendant Officer Tran on plaintiff’s 42 USC Section 1983 claim based on his arrest of Laizure for telephonic harassment of his ex-wife, despite Laizure’s later acquittal on the criminal charge.
The 9th Circuit held the Officer Tran had probable cause to believe that Laizure committed the crime of telephonic harassment under ORS 166.090, as he knew that his ex-wife did not want to receive calls from him, as she found them harassing, and he nonetheless continued to make calls and texts. The 9th Circuit also found that there were no cases to clearly establish the law as applied to an officer acting under similar circumstances, that the officer’s conduct violated the 4th Amendment. For this reason, too, qualified immunity attached. Laizure v. Washington County and Officer Tran.
We are pleased to announce that Mike Wiswall and Matt Kalmanson have been selected to serve as the firm’s co-managing partners effective January 1, 2021. Wiswall is a skilled trial attorney who represents and defends healthcare professionals. Kalmanson is an accomplished litigator and appellate attorney who represents individuals and businesses. Collectively they bring over 4 decades of experience to this leadership role. Together they will lead Hart Wagner’s continued mission of building collaborative relationships; earning respect of the legal community including clients, colleagues, and the courts; and dedication to delivering the very best service and results.
We would like to thank Gordy Welborn for his exceptional leadership as the firm’s managing partner over the last six years. Welborn will continue his robust trial practice defending professionals.
We’re pleased to welcome associate attorney Blake Fry to Hart Wagner LLP. Blake’s practice focuses on civil litigation in state and federal trial and appellate courts. His practice includes defending public entities, public officials, and employers in civil rights and tort claims, and attorneys and other professionals in malpractice and related claims.
Before joining Hart Wagner LLP, Blake was an attorney at Mersereau Shannon LLP for nine years. He is a member of the Oregon State Bar, Multnomah Bar Association, and the Oregon Association of Defense Counsel – where he currently serves as the Chair of the Governmental Liability Section. Blake received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and went on to receive his law degree from Lewis & Clark Law School.
U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” has issued its 2021 law firm rankings. Hart Wagner received nine regional Tier 1 rankings, one Tier 2, as well as a one National Tier 3 ranking in Appellate Practice. These rankings are based on lawyer evaluations, client feedback and peer reviews.
National Tier 3
Metropolitan Tier 1
Portland – OR
Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law
Legal Malpractice – Defendants
Medical Malpractice – Defendants
Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants
Professional Malpractice Law – Defendants
Eugene – OR
Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants
Professional Malpractice Law – Defendants
Janet Schroer won an appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, reversing the District Court’s ruling denying qualified immunity to two police officers based on what the court found were issues of fact. Plaintiff sued under 42 USC § 1983 alleging the excessive use of force against a suspect who was fleeing after 911 calls reported he had committed violent crimes, after the suspect stopped on a dark street, turned and displayed a shiny object perceived as a knife. At issue were both jurisdiction to hear the interlocutory qualified immunity appeal and the officers’ entitlement to qualified immunity. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held it had jurisdiction to determine whether the defendant officers violated clearly established law in using lethal force, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff. The court held that no clearly established law put defendants on notice that what they did violated the suspect’s Fourth Amendment right against excessive use of force.