What's Happening at Hart Wagner
- Congratulations to our 2021 Oregon Super Lawyers and Rising Stars
- Attorney Taylor Lewis Presents At OADC Annual Conference
- 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
Karen O’Kasey and Josh Sherman prevailed on summary judgment for the City of North Bend on a complex class action challenge to the city’s Public Safety Fee. The plaintiffs sought an injunction prohibiting the city from collecting the fee on the basis that it was being collected in violation of the city’s charter. After defeating class certification, defendants successfully argued that the fee was valid under the city charter. Moving forward, the City of North Bend can continue to collect the Public Safety Fee to fund its police department.
Karen O’Kasey and Ruth Casby prevailed yesterday on a motion for summary judgment dismissing a federal lawsuit alleging an employer’s violation of due process. The plaintiff sought damages of $500,000 claiming he was denied constitutional due process protections when he was discharged from his job as Clatskanie School District’s maintenance supervisor. US District Court Judge Marco Hernandez agreed with the defendants’ legal analysis, ruling that plaintiff’s claim had no merit because his at-will employment did not give rise to a constitutionally protected property interest and, as such, his employer did not need to comply with due process protections. This ruling made it unnecessary for the court to consider defendants’ alternative position that plaintiff’s claim failed because he received due process before and after his discharge.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a published decision in Barnes v. Routh Crabtree Olsen affirming the Oregon district court’s judgment dismissing plaintiff’s action against a Portland law firm and its attorneys alleging claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Unfair Trade Practices Act (UTPA) arising from a judicial foreclosure proceeding. Hart Wagner appellate attorney, Janet Schroer represented the attorney defendants in the appeal. The Ninth Circuit initially affirmed the trial court dismissal in 2018, but thereafter, granted reconsideration in light of the United States Supreme Court’s 2019 decision in Obdusky v. McCarthy & Holtus LLP, 139 S. Ct. 1029 (2019). The Ninth Circuit reviewed the question held open in Obdusky, whether the FDCPA applies to a judicial foreclosure. It held that if a creditor in a judicial foreclosure is simply enforcing a security interest by retaking or forcing a sale of the property, and not seeking any deficiency judgment or to collect any other monetary debt, then the creditor’s actions do not fall within the FDCPA, or the related provision in the UTPA.
The Oregon Court of Appeals recently reversed a $1.5 million dollar judgment that had been entered against a Hart Wagner client, a bank acting as the trustee for a trust that operated several commercial buildings in downtown Portland. Partner Matt Kalmanson handled the appeal. The trial court had ruled that the bank converted funds from the trust’s beneficiaries by charging them certain fees necessary to manage the building. Mr. Kalmanson convinced the Oregon Court of Appeals to reverse. The Court of Appeals specifically rejected the argument that the plaintiff had established, as a matter of law, that Hart Wagner’s client wrongfully received any funds or charged any improper fees.
Seven individual Hart Wagner attorneys have been recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine in their 2020 Oregon Super Lawyers edition. The publication identifies the most outstanding attorneys in the state, as chosen by their peers and through the research of Super Lawyers, which is a Thomson Reuters business. Notably, Karen O’Kasey and Janet Schroer were recognized for being among the Top 50 attorneys in Oregon, and were included in the Top 25 women lawyers in Oregon.
The following Hart Wagner attorneys were recognized in these designated practice areas:
Troy Bundy – Personal Injury Medical Malpractice: Defense
John Hart – Personal Injury Medical Malpractice: Defense
Rodney Norton – Personal Injury Medical Malpractice: Defense
Karen O’Kasey – Employment Litigation: Defense
Janet Schroer – Appellate
Gordon Welborn – Professional Liability: Defense
Michael Wiswall – Personal Injury Medical Malpractice: Defense
Hart Wagner associates Jack Scholz and Stephanie Kucera, were selected to the 2020 Rising Stars list. Scholz was recognized in the Personal Injury Medical Malpractice: Defense category, and Kucera was honored in the Civil Litigation: Defense category. While up to five percent of the lawyers in the state are named to the Super Lawyers roster, no more than 2.5 percent are named to the Rising Stars list. Each year, the research team at Super Lawyers undertakes a multi-phase selection process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, independent evaluation of candidates by the attorney-led research staff, a peer review of candidates by practice area, and a good-standing and disciplinary check. The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. For more information, visit www.superlawyers.com
Last week 30,000 personal protective masks were delivered to the Oregon Department of Justice. Hart Wagner was one of the six firms that coordinated an effort to purchase and deliver the masks. The firms involved historically are adversaries in court, but agreed to work together to make this very important contribution to provide Oregonians safe access to our courts.
Our offices will be closed on Friday, June 19th in observance of Juneteenth. Hart Wagner holds respect, diversity, and inclusion as primary values in all that we do. The importance of recognizing this national holiday cannot be overstated. We are committed to learning, listening and working toward positive and peaceful changes as we move forward.
A little known point of law was recently highlighted in a Washington Post article. An unfortunate reality of the health care field today is providers almost being expected to be sub human robots, devoid of feeling or emotion. These health care workers may not be able to handle traumatic events without an impact on their mental health. Care providers in this state can be punished for having obtained mental health care years ago, their fitness to practice challenged. Disclosing intimate details of their lives to mental health professionals should not be punitive. We frequently deal with broad and sweeping requests from Board investigators who demand these privileged records from our clients’ mental health care providers, and there is often little we can do to interfere. It is a sad but very real truth. The fact is, providers are human. Each person has their own, unique and personal story to tell. But only they should decide who gets to hear that story. You can read the article here.
Rachel has joined the firm’s preeminent medical malpractice and general liability defense teams. Her work on these teams will include personal injury and wrongful death defense, premises and product liability defense, and regulatory agencies representation.
“Rachel is a great addition to our firm,” said Managing Partner Gordy Welborn. “We look forward to providing her with the opportunity to become an integral part of our practice. Our clients will be well served by her experience.”
Born and raised in Portland, Rachel graduated from Lincoln High School and then attended the University of Oregon as a scholar in the Robert D. Clark Honors College. There, she earned three bachelor’s degrees in English, Political Science, and Spanish. She went on to attend Lewis & Clark Law School, graduating cum laude.
Before joining our team at Hart Wagner LLP, Rachel worked as a certified law clerk at the United States Attorney’s Office, and a law clerk at the Oregon Law Center. During law school, she served as an associate editor for Environmental Law Review. She also published an article on regulatory takings in Florida Law Review. She is admitted to practice law in Oregon State Courts. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends.
As a long-time member of The American Association of Nurse Attorneys (TAANA) and nurse advocate, attorney Troy Bundy supports the attached position statement prepared by TAANA. If you need assistance with any issues during this crisis, please contact us.