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:
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:
Whoops. The full docket is here. It looks like HLGR had to pay another $505 to refile the appeal correctly:
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.
So much for my optimism about this. What on earth could they be thinking? Is (a) Kevin Reed just as much of a boob as previous GCs, (b) there is insufficient disincentive to just put this to bed, so they have nothing to lose by continuing to appeal, or (c) some other reason?
Perhaps they know something that you do not.
Like they were withholding some super secret information during the jury trial and appeal, that they were planning all along to crack out as a brilliant strategy for the 9th?
It’s been a common tactic to say that we don’t know all the facts, but in this case we really do know all the facts. Even if by some miracle UO won their second appeal, nothing can change the fact that a room full of jurors when given all of the details unanimously agreed that retaliation clearly took place.
So just why are we enduring cuts in staff and services? If UO has this kind of money to throw around on obviously losing/stupid/immoral causes, then there should be plenty of money for our actual mission, which is, hello, EDUCATION.
4th Time’s The Charm??:
Don’t forget that UO (and their HLGR attorney Andrea Coit) also lost to Cleavenger and SEIU during Cleavenger’s Arbitration case, which resulted in Cleavenger being ordered reinstated with back-pay. It should have ended then (back in 2013/2014). But oh no….. they thought they’d fair better at trial (but they lost again), or perhaps at their appeals to the trial court judge (but they lost again)…. so why not try the 9th Circuit because isn’t there a saying about “4th time’s the charm?!” Perhaps I’m mistaken though….
Unfortunately, UO doesn’t seem to fare so well with the Ninth either. They’re gonna need a lot of charm.
And I thought cats have nine lives. … ???
Office pool anyone? What are the odds?
I’m no Bayesian, but I won’t bet until I’ve got a prior distribution to update. Or at least a first moment. Surely someone must have some data on HLGR’s recent win/loss ratio?
I thought on this particular issue it was 4:0 – so what are the odds of it being 5:0 LOL
In fareness to our dear $315-an-hour friends at HLGR, they did succeed in getting part of Clevenger’s federal case dismissed, and in getting a local judge to deny Kafoury’s attempt to add a state case to UO’s woes. But then LBJ thought General Westmoreland won the Tet offensive.
Nice to know you can spell “fare”.
What should have never happened in the first place is going to now cost nearly $3,000,000.00 in time, billable hours and not to mention the interest that gets tacked on to the initial judgement the longer this drags out. This nonsense needs to stop immediately. Pay the judgement and move on. Stop letting these lawyers squeeze every drop they can get, they’re clearly not worth it.
I just hope this isn’t the doing of that buffoon Doug Park or anyone else in GC. When you get hit by a truck, you do not step back into the road and ask for another. This is money being wasted and it will cost people jobs. I thought we were now all about saving money and the jobs of people who are productive on campus. We are in the middle of cuts and these silly lawyers have somehow hustled the school into going back to court????????
Now I’m seriously beginning to wonder if this ever was actually covered by insurance.
Klinger claimed it’s all covered. I think some is, some isn’t. I asked UO for the details. They want $267 for the public records. PURMIT has redacted everything, claiming it’s all a “trade secret”. I’ve got an appeal in to AG Rosenblum: https://uomatters.com/2016/03/ducks-demand-267-for-dick-docs-that-doj-will-give-away-for-0.html
The DOJ told me to expect an answer in another week or so. We’ll see.
Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules? Hire back Dick Turkiewicz and Chief McDermed and appeal this all the way to the Supreme Court.
Time to start planning ahead if they lose again in the 9th. Does UO admin think Merrick Garland should eat a Bowl?
Where the hell are the grown-ups?
All of the rational people at the UO: “Trial’s over man. Judge Carter dropped the big one.”
HLGR and UO GC: “WHAT? Over? Did you say OVER? Nothing is over until we decide it is!”
I didn’t watch my buddies die face down in the mud to pay these strumpets. Time to declare victory and get out.
Over the line!
Rumor has it another UOPD administrator has been shown the door. Any idea if true and if so who?
In answer to the question: “Rumor has it another UOPD administrator has been shown the door. Any idea if true and if so who?”:
That would be Deb Pack, UOPD’s Manager of Administrative Support.