UO hires Barran Liebman to defend against Morlock retaliation claim

12/8/2015:  Don’t cry for our old friends at Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick. They’re still getting their share of billable hours from the long list of law firms making bank off UO’s legal troubles. This is just October:

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But HLGR was unable to stop the OPBE from proposing a $5K fine for UO Counseling Director Shelly Kerr over her decision to give Doug Park and Sam Hill the Jane Doe counseling records.

And it looks like JH is taking the retaliation claims brought by Jennifer Morlok and Karen Stokes seriously enough to call in some experienced legal representation for the federal case:

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Mr. Harnden is the managing partner of Barran Liebman, and has quite the resume:

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11/10/2015: Morlok and Stokes claim retaliation, file lawsuit against Robin Holmes, Shelly Kerr, etc.

Diane Dietz has a detailed story in the RG here. A snippet:

Two former University of Oregon counseling center employees filed suit against the university saying they faced retaliation after they blew the whistle on the university for accessing a student’s therapy files.

This is the third lawsuit to stem from a March 2014 rape allegation, which has become a blight that the university can’t seem to shake.

Jennifer Morlok and Karen Stokes filed their suit Monday at the U.S. District Court in Eugene naming four administrators, two unnamed defendants listed as John Roe and Jane Roe and the university.

Stokes claims that in December 2014 she was ordered to make a complete copy of a student’s medical file without indicating — by stamping or documenting — that the file had been copied, according to the lawsuit.

Stokes notified Morlok, the student’s therapist, about the order.

Speaking of blights that the university can’t seem to shake:

University spokesman Tobin Klinger said the university is preparing a statement in response to the lawsuit. …

Here’s the email, apparently sent at the direction of former Interim General Counsel Doug Park and his associate GC Sam Hill, that has so far cost UO $800K for the Jane Doe settlement, untold legal fees, and incalculable embarrassment:

And here’s what I wrote last week, when Jennifer Morlok resigned. Her amazing letter to President Schill is here.

11/2/2015: Ms Morlok was Jane Doe’s counselor at UO. Her decision to fight General Counsel Doug Park’s efforts to get her client’s counseling records has led or will lead to improvements in state and federal law and UO policy. UO needs more people like her. She’s a hero.

But the UO administration has treated her like a pariah. She took it for a year, at great personal cost. Now she has resigned, after a year of retaliation from UO. It’s heartbreaking. We can’t afford to lose people like this.

As for people we can afford to lose – Doug Park, Sam Hill, Shelley Kerr, Robin Holmes – the people who made the decision to get Jane Doe’s records, and who led UO into more than a year of expensive national embarrassment? (Legal costs and Jane Doe settlement alone ~$1.6M). They are still here, still making decisions, still collecting their paychecks, still due for their next raises.

Recapthelaw has the docket here, and the complaint from Stokes and Morlock’s attorneys Beth Creighton and Michael Rose of Portland’s Creighton and Rose is here. Some extracts:

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6 Responses to UO hires Barran Liebman to defend against Morlock retaliation claim

  1. Which attorney for the Defendants says:

    Far too often UO spends our tax and tuition dollars unnecessarily on outside attorneys when we have a perfectly good stable of pre-paid litigators in house. Doug Park certainly noted that he felt good about how it’s been handled thus far, why not let him see it through to the end? Consider it a special project.

    • SaveUofO says:

      I agree that I would like to see Doug Park take these legal cases on as he clearly thinks he is some sort of great legal mind. Why are we paying all of our in house lawyers to contract legal services out to other attorneys?

  2. AL says:

    A recent quote from Mr Schill concerning the Jane Doe settlement: “As an attorney and former law school dean, I want to be very clear about what this settlement means and what it does not mean. I do not believe any of our coaches, administrators, or other university personnel acted wrongfully, nor do I believe that any one of them failed to live up to the high moral standards that we value and that they embody in their work every day.” Mr Schill also stated that his administration was spending far too much time and energy on the Jane Doe case. He wants to move forward as soon as possible. To him, expediency appears to be most important thing at the point of his career. Mr Schill wants to start his presidency by wiping the slate clean since his future pay increase depends more on events that happen after his arrival at UO.
    Plaintiffs should be confident they will be adequately compensated. Mr Schill is ready to open up taxpayers’ and students’ checkbooks and spend their money to settle. Mr Schill’s spokesperson was very proud in stating the $800,000 payment to Jane Doe was covered by an insurance policy. He did not mention the large increase in premiums that UO will have to pay in future years. Of course, the administration will be asking the students and taxpayers to help out in meeting these invoices.

    • uomatters says:

      I’m pretty sure that spokesperson was full of shit. UO is part of the PURMIT self-insurance scheme. Unless it has an unusually low threshold for outside reinsurance to kick in, this means UO pays about 25% of these claims, OSU pays about 33%, and the rest is spread out over the other 5 Oregon publics.

      I’m looking into the public records on this now.

  3. AL says:

    Karen Stokes and Jennifer Morlok are indeed heroes. They put their careers on the line when they blew the whistle on Dr Kerr, their former boss. Both Stokes and Morlok actually have higher moral values and legal standards than President Schill. The fact that Mr Schill is an attorney and former dean of law school does not confer him the authority to absolve the failings of his coaches and senior administrators.

  4. Pacer recap says:

    Please provide a link, they are always helpful. Or even better, how about some assistance on pulling up recap links? For some reason, I can’t search recap to bring up cases, even if I know the docket number. For example, I can see the files on the Jane Doe case here http://ia902700.us.archive.org/29/items/gov.uscourts.ord.120035/gov.uscourts.ord.120035.docket.html but searching for 6:15-cv-00042 or even University of Oregon won’t bring the case up on http://archive.recapthelaw.org/search/

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