UO hires Harrang’s Bill Gary and Sharon Rudnick to investigate blackface prof

Just kidding, that’s who Interim President Scott Coltrane and Interim General Counsel Doug Park hired to investigate me over the presidential archives, along with Hershner Hunter’s Amanda Walkup.

President Schill and GC Kevin Reed have hired Edwin Harnden (http://www.barran.com/our-team/edwin-a-harnden/)  and Shayda Le (http://www.barran.com/our-team/shayda-zaerpoor-le/) to investigate the professor over the blackface incident.

They sure look expensive – so I expect the professor’s settlement will be too:

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I wonder why AAEO Director Penny Daugherty and our GCO can’t handle this, in house? Are we not spending enough money on them?

Insurance company sues university lawyers over botched legal defense

No, this isn’t about HLGR’s Andrea Coit and her failed attempt to warn federal Judge David Carter about the Bowl of Dicks jury’s potential involvement in a Masonic blood-oath conspiracy. The Cook County Record has the latest on former Chicago State University President Wayne Watson and the $3M his retaliation against a whistleblower cost the now bankrupt CSU, here:

The insurer also accused the Pugh lawyers of failure to “properly assess the case and take advantage of settlement opportunities,” which the insurer said would have amounted to “a small fraction of the ultimate verdict,” telling Illinois National all the while “that CSU would likely prevail at trial.”

UO hires Amanda Walkup to defend against Pavel lawsuit

The Docket is here.Walkup’s website is here. Pavel is represented by Marianne Dugan.

Amanda Walkup is one of the many lawyers Doug Park and Scott Coltrane hired to investigate me and the UO archivists over the Presidential Archives release. Walkup seemed pretty efficient and interested in getting at the truth. While she wouldn’t let me record her interview with me – I can only imagine why – she did agree to give me her assistant’s notes. Those notes omit some significant parts of the interview, but I’ve seen worse.

Coltrane never would release her report, although UO strategic communicator Tobin Klinger did release noted big-tobacco attorney Sharon Rudnick’s interpretation of it. Or at least that’s how I remember things. If I’ve got it wrong, here’s hoping HLGR’s Bill Gary will accept my apologies instead of threatening to sue me for defamation again.

Psychologist Examiners: Shelly Kerr unethical. Doug Park merely clueless?

The Final Order in regard to the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners investigation of Counseling Center Director Shelly Kerr’s decision to comply with UO Deputy General Counsel Doug Park’s request for alleged basketball gang-rape survivor Jane Doe’s confidential counseling records was made today. You can download the thorough report from Oregon Administrative Law Judge Alison Green Webster and the ruling of the OBPE here. Kerr was represented by C. Robert Steringer of HLGR. He lost:

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In contrast whistleblowers Karen Stokes and Jennifer Morlok, whose retaliation lawsuit UO just settled for $425K, come off as total professionals.

According to the timeline in Webster’s report, Jane Doe’s attorney John Clune sent Park a “litigation hold” on Aug 5th 2014 to ensure that the records were not destroyed. But Park’s office didn’t ask the Counseling Center for the documents until December 8th, *after* mediation failed. Despite this 4 month gap, and despite the fact that he knew Clune already had a copy of the file (Clune had shown him some excerpts during mediation) Mr. Park maintained that the only reason his office asked for the counseling records was to comply with Clune’s litigation hold and keep the records safe. Some excerpts from Judge Webster (Licensee & Respondent refer to Kerr):

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Grad students and admins agree to a contract, without expensive HLGR lawyers or a strike

I assume the GTFF website will be updated soon. Meanwhile Diane Dietz has the story in the RG here:

UO President Michael Schill, in his year-in-review in June, said he was pleased with the year’s quick settlements with United Academics and the Service Employees International Union.

Schill’s initiatives to build the university’s graduate program, including increasing the number of graduate fellowships awarded, lent an upbeat background to the GTFF negotiations.

The endeavor also was helped along when the university used its own employee, labor lawyer Bill Brady, as chief negotiator instead of hiring outside counsel for the job, Marchman said.

In addition, graduate school Dean Scott Pratt was on the administration’s bargaining team. Before becoming an administrator in March 2015, Pratt, a philosophy professor, served on the United Academics negotiating team.

“That helped keep negotiations respectful and where graduate employees felt like their concerns were taken seriously,” Marchman said.

The last time the administration bargained with the GTFF, Interim UO President Scott Coltrane put Jeff Mathews, a zoning law expert from Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick in charge. They billed UO hundreds of thousands, and a deal was made only after a disastrous, pointless strike. For the first faculty union contract, Pres Mike Gottfredson put HLGR’s noted big-tobacco attorney Sharon Rudnick in charge – those were also bitter negotiations. So is the solution to labor peace at UO as simple as not hiring outside lawyers who bill by the hour?

UO’s HLGR lawyers make bank off Bowl of Ducks insurance policy

Jack Moran has the story in the RG here:

The University of Oregon has accepted a $242,000 settlement deal to end a legal dispute over bonuses the UO paid to then-head football coach Chip Kelly and his staff for the 2012-13 season.

“The university is glad we were able to reach a settlement agreement and now we are looking forward to the upcoming season,” UO spokesman Tobin Klinger said.

The university had paid a nearly $490,000 premium for an insurance policy the UO says it thought would cover all incentive bonuses Kelly and his assistants earned in the 2012-13 season.

After the highly successful season, the UO paid out bonuses totaling nearly $688,000 and sought reimbursement under its policy. The insurer refused.

Financially, it appears the university would have been better off not buying the insurance at all, as the lawsuit settlement doesn’t even cover the cost of the premium the UO paid. …

Duck Associate Athletic Director Eric Roedl, who agreed to this $490,000 contract without understanding it, has been fired:

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Just kidding, Rob Mullens gave him another raise:

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So how much did HLGR bill UO for settling this case for 50¢ on the dollar? I don’t know, but judging by the long docket below, they probably did OK at ~$300 per. Here’s hoping PURMIT picked up their tab:

Case details

Court: ord
Docket #: 6:15-cv-00260
Case Name: University of Oregon v. Drummer et al
PACER case #: 120541
Date filed: 2015-02-13
Assigned to: Judge Ann L. Aiken
Case Cause: 28:1332 Diversity-Insurance Contract
Nature of Suit: 110 Insurance
Jury Demand: Both
Jurisdiction: Diversity

Parties

Continue reading

PURMIT to hold closed meeting over public records

Usually they provide a dial-in number so the public can hear what’s going on:

Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2016 3:14 AM
To: Parker, James
Subject: Re: PURMIT public records request

Thanks, what is the call in info?

Not this time:

From: “Parker, James” <JamesParker@dwt.com>
Subject: RE: PURMIT public records request
Date: May 4, 2016 at 8:55:43 AM PDT

Per the notice, the public site for the meeting is at:

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
1300 SW Fifth Ave.
Suite 2400
Portland, OR 97201

There is no public conference call line set up for this meeting.

James G. Parker
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Office: (503) 778-5471 | Cell: (503) 728-8702
Email: jamesparker@dwt.com
Admitted: California and Oregon

From what I can tell UO has successfully escaped from another of the dying remnants of George Pernsteiner’s OUS empire – the Public Universities Risk Management & Insurance Trust. We left behind our share of their $3M or so in reserves – call it $1M – but without the PURMIT overhead for lawyers, auditors, and actuaries we’re saving about $200K a year on insurance by making an independent deal with United Educators.

For some reason PURMIT’s $280-an-hour lawyer (see page 81-87) doesn’t want the details of PURMIT’s cost structure to become public. It’s a long story, but the background on my public records petition is here.

UO has also tried to use fees and delays to hide the PURMIT records they hold – I think mostly out of embarrassment over how much public money PURMIT has had to spend on the HLGR lawyers who are defending UO over the Bowl of Dicks case, and who keep losing.

[Disclaimer in case HLGR threatens another defamation lawsuit: Mr. Gary, I am not suggesting that your partner Andrea Coit’s statements to Judge Carter about a potential Masonic blood oath conspiracy to subvert the jury were anything less than a competent and lawyerly reaction to the plaintiff wearing a Ducks lapel pin, or that there is anything embarrassing about paying Coit $290 an hour from public funds to make this argument. Nor am I proposing that HLGR give PURMIT / United Educators a refund because of this, or because HLGR lost the arbitration, lost the lawsuit, lost the plea to get the judge to set aside the verdict, lost the plea to get the judge to reduce the damages, etc.]

In any case, today UO provided their current insurance contracts, at no charge and with no redactions. Here they are:

United Educators Buffer Liability Policy

United Educators Legal Liability Policy

United Educators Excess Liability Policy

United Excess Licensed Professional Liability Policy

Will PURMIT do the same, someday? The PURMIT board is meeting at their lawyer’s office tomorrow at 9:00 AM. They’ve made the legally required public notice, but good luck getting the meeting materials – the most recent ones on the PURMIT website are from 2015, and someone earned a lot of public money redacting them.

Oregon’s Public Meetings Law requires that PURMIT explain the reason for an executive session. Here’s all that their lawyer thinks he needs to make public:

Public Meeting Notice – May 4, 2016

PURMIT Board of Trustees Meeting Notice

 The Public Universities Risk Management and Insurance Trust (“PURMIT”) will hold a regular meeting at 9:00 a.m. at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, 1300 SW Fifth Avenue, Suite 2400, Portland OR on May 4, 2016. PURMIT will also hold an executive session immediately following the regular meeting agenda items on May 4, 2016. The session will address documents and information relating to the 2016-17 allocation model, attorney-client communications regarding the handling of PURMIT documents by regulatory bodies and contract provisions, and potential and/or current litigation.  The executive session is being held pursuant to ORS 192.660(2)(f) and ORS 192.660(2)(h).

The meeting location is accessible to persons with disabilities. A request for an interpreter for the hearing impaired or for other accommodations for persons with disabilities should be made at least 48 hours before the meeting to Ryan Britz at 800-449-7707.

PURMIT Board of Trustees Meeting Agenda

1. Call to Order, Roll Call
2. Review and Approval of Minutes from March 9, 2016 PURMIT Board of Trustees Meeting
3. SAIF Workers’ Compensation Renewal Proposal Presentation
4. Financial Review as of March 31, 2016
5. Financial Proforma Discussion
6. July 1, 2016 Insurance Renewal Discussion
7. Legal Counsel items
8. Other items
9. Executive Session Pursuant to ORS 192.660(2)(f)
10. Final Decisions Related to Executive Session Discussions (if any)
11. Adjournment

HLGR law loses Pete Shepherd, last attorney in Salem office, to DEQ

Harrang, Long Gary and Rudnick – once one of the state’s most politically connected law firms, has lost a string of recent court cases ranging from the PERS case to the Bowl of Dicks. In the midst of a public records lawsuit from the Register Guard they even managed to lose the Eugene School Board’s confidential records, by mistakenly emailing them to the RG. Whoops.

They’re also losing lawyers – down from 40 in 2006 to 20, I count 15 16 departures since 2012. Pete Shepherd, the last lawyer in their Salem office, is the latest. His new job is Interim Director of the Oregon DEQ, which is in turmoil after public records showed it had ignored releases of toxic metals from glass factories into the Portland air.

While Shepherd doesn’t have any environmental experience, he does have a long history of using his former position as Deputy Attorney General to write a slew of opinions that gutted Oregon’s Public Records law and the pro-transparency interpretations that had been made by its author Dave Frohnmayer, when he served as AG.

Nick Budnick has more in the Portland Tribune. Read it all here. A snippet:

Transparency advocates do not remember Shepherds’ time at DOJ fondly. The state’s attorney general is tasked with interpreting the Oregon Public Records Law, issuing orders to settle records disputes between members of the public and state agencies. Shepherd’s duties included public records, and he was the lawyer who typically signed orders issued by the Myers administration.

At a talk about government transparency hosted last week by the University of Oregon in Portland, Myers’ record was characterized as a low point for Oregonians trying to understand how their government worked.

Investigative reporter and University of Oregon journalism professor Brent Walth described his review of records decisions detailed in the state’s open records manual, which showed Frohnmayer ruled in favor of disclosure most of the time, but Myers ruled for disclosure only 28 percent of the time.

Myers’ tenure was “a disaster … (and) wrecked the state’s records law,” Walth said.

… Myers had ruled that information about PERS retiree benefits, as well as Nike’s sponsorship contracts with the University of Oregon, could not be released. Both rulings later were overturned, as was a ruling that autopsy records shouldn’t be released.

… Bill Harbaugh, a University of Oregon professor and records activist, … says Shepherd viewed his job as preventing the release of information.

“Given his history at the Oregon DOJ, Pete is the perfect man to ensure that the public is protected from any additional releases — of public records,” he says. “I’m surprised that the governor believes he’ll protect the public from releases of air toxins as well.”

Since leaving office, Shepherd has worked for Harrang Long, a top law firm. There, he’s been part of at least three lawsuits against newspapers to block the release of public records. In one of them, he sued The Oregonian on behalf of Oregon Health & Science University to block the release of records about potential litigation that had been ordered released by the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office.

In a court hearing, Duane Bosworth, one of the top records lawyers in the state, characterized Shepherd’s arguments for secrecy as disingenuous and “outrageous.”

A Multnomah County Circuit Court judge sided with The Oregonian, but the case is under appeal. …

HLGR’s Bill Gary loses Bowl of Dicks plea, nets Kafoury another $50K

Posted 3/30/2016, updated 4/14/2016 with UO’s new $50K payment to Cleavenger’s lawyers.

In  February 2014 UO’s lawyers from Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick lost the arbitration case against former UOPD officer James Cleavenger. UO had to pay Cleavenger $30K in back wages, $6K for arbitration costs, and an unknown amount to HLGR, who typically bill $315 an hour.

UOPD  Chief McDermed and others at UO claimed Cleavenger was dishonest and should be put on the “Brady List”, preventing him from getting another police job. According to K&M, our current Associate GC Doug Park participated in that decision. Cleavenger hired the Kafoury and McDougal law firm to take his First Amendment claim of retaliation and blacklisting to federal court. UO hired Andrea Coit of HLGR to defend it.

In October the jury awarded Cleavenger $755K on the grounds that UOPD Chief McDermed and others had retaliated against Cleavenger because of his exercise of his free-speech rights. His attorneys asked the judge for $500K from UO for fees and costs – in a civil rights case the losing side pays the winner’s lawyers. UO replaced Andrea Coit with HLGR’s Bill Gary to try and convince the judge to set aside the jury’s verdict and reduce UO’s $500K payment to Kafoury and McDougal.

Gary lost his quixotic attempt to get the judge to set aside the jury’s verdict, but did get the judge to knock $50K off Kafoury and McDougal’s bill. UO then forced UOPD Chief Carolyn McDermed into retirement, paying her $46K to leave, as Betsy Hammond of the Oregonian discovered after a public records request to UO.

Yesterday, the judge awarded Kafoury another $50K in fees and costs for successfully defending Cleavenger against Gary’s pleas:

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So, net, for this losing plea, UO is out however many additional billable hours Gary and HLGR charged times $315 per hour. The Emerald’s Noah McGraw reported, as of October, that HLGR had billed UO $395K for losing the original case. So maybe they’ve made $500K or so total, if you count their fees for losing the arbitration. Add in UO’s payment to the winning side’s lawyers and the lawyers have made $1M or so, not counting the time of Doug Park et al. But it’s not over. In March UO hired HLGR to appeal the case to the Ninth Circuit, also at $315 an hour, plus expenses.

Does anyone know the last time HLGR’s lawyers actually won a major case?

I’m no behavioral economist, but Danny Kahneman’s “sunk cost fallacy” comes to mind. As does Milton Friedman and “spending other people’s money.” I suppose when you bill $315 an hour you never really lose – even when you mistakenly email a newspaper the files your client is trying to hide. And HLGR is not off to a good start on this appeal:

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Whoops. The full docket is here. It looks like HLGR had to pay another $505 to refile the appeal correctly:

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Duck PR Flack Tobin Klinger told the Oregonian that the university’s insurance, not tuition money or the individual employees, would pay the damages. That’s not true, and UO now says that these costs will be paid by the PURMIT risk sharing pool, meaning UO will pay about 25%, OSU about 33%, and PSU and the TRU’s the rest, perhaps with some reinsurance. But they don’t want to release the public records that show this.

Regardless of who pays, the bad news is that the UO administration will be spending still more years wallowing in this trough, instead of focusing on the future. The good news it that UOM will have more HLGR antics to report on – such as Andrea Coit’s attempt to convince the judge that Cleavenger was involved in a Masonic blood oath conspiracy.

Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick earn $215K in legal fees for $215K police settlement

No, I’m not talking about the UOPD and the Bowl of Dicks retaliation case. I think HLGR has billed UO ~$500K on that, so far, to top off the $755K settlement and $450K or so to Cleavenger’s excellent lawyers. (For First Amendment cases the losers pay the damages and also the winning attorneys, presumably to encourage lawyers to defend the Bill of Rights.)

This retaliation case is about the EPD. Jack Moran has the story in the RG here:

… Had the city not settled with Reynolds it might have spent an additional $150,000 in attorney fees, city spokeswoman Jan Bohman said. That estimate takes into account the potential cost of fighting both lawsuits at trial and then at the appellate level.

And, of course, there was the possibility that HLGR would lose the case and the jury would award even higher damages. That’s what happened when UO and HLGR rejected James Cleavenger’s offer to settle for $600k, and the jury awarded him $755K. Two weeks ago the judge emphatically rejected the plea from HLGR’s Bill Gary to set aside the jury’s judgement. No word yet on if our GCO will continue to pay Bill Gary $315 an hour to try his luck again.

But back to the EPD case. The City of Eugene paid HLGR $215K to negotiate this $215K settlement with former Police Auditor Dawn Reynolds. Her attorneys, Holly Lloyd and Judy Snyder, charged just a third of that: $71,666. Maybe UO should shop around before hiring HLGR again.

UO loses $755K police whistleblowing case — again

That’s the headline from Betsy Hammond’s report in the Oregonian, here. The first time UO lost this case we paid $315 an hour for HLGR partner Andrea Coit. This time we paid $315 an hour for HLGR partner William F. Gary, for the same result:

… Lawyers for the UO police brass had argued their clients’ conduct was merely procedural and any harm to public safety officer James Cleavenger’s future law enforcement career so speculative that the judge should cancel the jury’s ruling. In legal filings, they asked the judge who presided over McDermed’s September 2015 trial to reset the verdict to $1 or order a new trial.

Instead, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter sided with Cleavenger’s lawyers on every point, citing evidence of severe retaliatory intent, dishonesty and deep economic harm to Cleavenger on the part of McDermed, Lt. Brandon Lebrecht and Sgt. Scott Cameron.

The case is expected to cost UO more than $1.5 million, including paying lawyers from a Eugene firm to represent UO and its employees and paying Cleavenger’s law team, led by Jason Kafoury and Mark McDougal.

Ms Hammond is skeptical regarding interim Chief Pete Deshpande:

Also on Monday, UO leaders announced they have hired former UO Police Capt. Pete Deshpande as interim chief of police. Deshpande also played an active role in reviewing and passing along the Brady materials that destroyed Clevenger’s reputation, evidence during the trial showed.

Deshpande worked for the UO safety department for three years before retiring in 2015. He also served as an officer and commander with the Eugene Police Department for 22 years.

But who else is left? Bring back Frank Sorrentino, I say!

Bill Gary and Sharon Rudnick miss deadline, lose $194K in billable hours

2/18/2016: 

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Ouch. From the Oregon Supreme Court opinion, here:

With regard to the amount of costs and disbursements on review, defendant filed a statement of those costs and disbursements seeking the total sum of $561,816.84, plus $638 per day from July 1, 2010, until the letter of credit procured by defendant is released. Plaintiff filed objections to the cost bill, including an objection that defendant had waived any claim for costs incurred before the Court of Appeals. Plaintiff asserted that defendant did not timely submit a claim for those costs under ORS 20.320 (cost statement must be filed 21 days from the date of the appellate court’s decision) and ORAP 13.05(5)(a) (same; also providing that the filing of a petition for review or reconsideration does not suspend the time for filing a cost statement).

Plaintiff’s objection is well taken, and we disallow defendant’s request for costs that it did not seek within 21 days of the decision of the Court of Appeals. Those disallowed costs include the transcript costs ($10,037.80) and costs related to maintaining the letter of credit prior to the issuance of the Court of Appeals decision. We allow the prevailing party fee ($100), the filing fee ($140), and the cost of filing briefs in the Supreme Court ($255.10). We also allow the cost of maintaining the letter of credit after the Court of Appeals issued its decision ($367,205.82 through June 30, 2010).

The total amount of allowed costs is $367,700.92, plus $638 per day from July 1, 2010, until release of the letter of credit or issuance of the appellate judgment, whichever occurs first.

2/16/2015: Big Tobacco lawyers Sharon Rudnick and William F. Gary save $125M for Phillip Morris

In the Oregon Court of Appeals, here:

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