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.”

Three finalists for UOPD police chief, starting tomorrow July 12

Follow links for application materials. For more info see the UO Police Department website:

Tuesday, July 12 — James Miyashiro, Senior Director of Safety Operations, University of LaVerne (LaVerne, Calif.): Public forums include a student session from 11-11:50 a.m., a public presentation and Q & A from 2:30-3:30 p.m. open to all, followed by a session for faculty and staff from 3:40-4:25 p.m., all in Susan Campbell Hall Room 111.

April 28, 2016, University of Oregon Human Resources, RE: Chief of Police

Dear University of Oregon Representative: My interest in the position of Chief of Police for the University of Oregon is based on my continued desire to serve at institutions of higher education. The University of Oregon has always been one of my top choices of educational institutions, because of the universities quality academics, rich student life, attractive facilities and strong name recognition. I currently have over thirty years of law enforcement experience dealing with service oriented municipal, university, college and school district police agencies.

Developing and implementing ideas and strategies to deal with current law enforcement, security, and organizational issues, is an area in which I have a proven track record. I am a committed and innovative leader who shows initiative and integrity in all aspects of work performed. I believe strongly in collaborative problem solving, accountability and in developing others for future leadership roles. During my career, I have acquired the necessary skills to meet the challenges of shrinking budgets, personnel management, recruitment, retention, and the importance of staff and team development. …

Friday, July 15 — Matthew Carmichael, Chief of Police, University of California, Davis: Public forums include a student session from 11-11:50 a.m., a public presentation and Q & A from 2:30-3:30 p.m. open to all, followed by a session for faculty and staff from 3:40-4:25 p.m., all in the Knight Library Browsing Room.

May 9, 2016, University of Oregon, Daphne Joubran, Executive Assistant in the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Administration/CFO

Dear Ms. Jouban, It is with great excitement that I submit my application to you for the position of Police Chief at the University of Oregon. I learned of this vacancy through an online job search engine, I am interested in this position for several reasons. First, the University of Oregon is an amazing institution and a community I would like to be a part of. Second, the Eugene area is a place my family and I would like to call home. If considered for this position I would look to live as close as possible to campus. My family has enjoyed spending time on my current campus and knowing the University of Oregon I am confident we will find ourselves more often than not on campus. Lastly, the University of Oregon Police Department is a relatively new organization and I am excited about the opportunity to help ensure the police department is as cutting edge as the community it serves.

I am currently serving as the police chief at the University of California, Davis. I assumed leadership of our organization in 2011, a time when community/police relations was at an all-time low. In partnership with our community and those individuals that comprise the UC Davis Police Department family, I can now state with great confidence we have become a “Model Law Enforcement Agency”. The challenges we faced over the last five years have truly prepared me for taking on the role of police chief at a new organization such as the University of Oregon Police Department. …

Monday, July 25 — “Candidate C“: Public forums include a student session from 11-11:50 a.m., a public presentation and Q & A from 2:30-3:30 p.m. open to all, followed by a session for faculty and staff from 3:40-4:25 p.m., all in the Knight Library Browsing Room. Candidate name and materials to be published here July 21.

One of the many job number ones for the new UOPD Chief will be rewriting the UOPD’s remarkably unconstitutional ethics policy:

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 9.04.23 PM

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” <[email protected]>
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: [email protected]
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’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:

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 9.25.11 AM Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 9.25.03 AM

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:

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 12.28.15 AM

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

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 9.32.59 AM

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.

UO cops busted in KWAX door, looking for Bowl List’s Justin Bieber

3/23/2016: While the FBI quits after the Ten Most Wanted, the UOPD’s Bowl List is more comprehensive, as Betsy Hammond explained in the Oregonian. Page 3 of 11, here:

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 12.33.03 PM

Diane Dietz has the latest KWAX story online. Here’s an amuse-bouche, as Debussy would have called it:

… the University of Oregon Police Department broke into the station’s locked door to perform a “welfare check” last Jan. 29 or Feb. 1, records show. Soon after, General Manager Paul Bjornstad got word that he was forbidden entry and, instead, had to play the recorded music by remote.

While UO Strategic Communicator Tobin Klinger can neither confirm nor deny that Bieber has been kept in a Matt Court holding cell, VP Kyle Henley is “thrilled” that normal KWAX operations can resume. [Redacted] has left the building, any damage that may or may not have resulted has been cleaned up, and live broadcasts resume Thursday with renowned classical DJ Peter van de Graaf in charge:

“I’m thrilled that we will be able to get back to normal operations,” Henley wrote, “and on behalf of KWAX and the University of Oregon, I’d like to thank listeners for their patience over the last two months and apologize for any inconvenience caused by the disruption in the station’s normal broadcasting schedule.” KWAX listeners say they’re excited about the arrival of van de Graaff, who is the popular host of the “Through The Night” overnight show. He’s also program director of the internationally syndicated Beethoven Satellite Network.

The BSN is Beethoven’s syndicate, not Bieber’s? I want to bieleb Henley.

3/11/2016:  UO secrecy about KWAX classical music about Justin Bieber – or Putin? Continue reading

Petition to AG on PURMIT, after Ducks demand $267 for dick docs

3/22/2016: Sorry, long story.

After HLGR lost the Bowl of Dicks case, a UO communications person told a student reporter that UO was fully insured for the ~$1.5M Bowl of Dicks damages and legal fees to HLGR and the plaintiff’s attorneys and that no university funds would be used.

I was skeptical of this, given that UO was covered by PURMIT, which is a risk sharing pool with the other Oregon public universities with some re-insurance for large claims. That would typically mean that at least some and probably most of the ~$1.5M costs are paid by UO and the other Oregon publics in proportion to their contributions to the pool.

UO’s Public Records Office wanted $267 to release the documents that would show this. So I made the request to PURMIT. They eventually posted the past year of meeting material on their website at no charge, but with all the good stuff redacted. Their lawyer argued this was justified by the “trade secrets” exemption:

If PURMIT’s competitors are able to see how PURMIT sets it rates, projects its losses, and structures its excess insurance (including price and coverage specifics), it puts PURMIT at a competitive disadvantage to its competition which has no such obligation.

Wow, what a thing to admit. I’m petitioning Attorney General Rosenblum to order PURMIT to post unredacted documents, arguing that:

In a nutshell, PURMIT’s attorney is arguing that PURMIT, an agent of the state, should be allowed to use a “trade secrets” exemption so that it can restrict competition and charge public universities more for insurance than private competitors would. Allowing this exemption for this purpose is not in the public interest, to put it mildly.

The full letter from PURMIT’s lawyer and my petition to AG Rosenblum are below. The law gives her office a week to rule on the petition. Continue reading

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.

Bowl of Dicks: The Jury didn’t believe Andrea Coit’s arguments, and the Judge doesn’t believe Bill Gary’s. Cleavenger’s $755K award stands.

The Honorable Judge David Carter’s final order on the attempt by UO’s HLGR law firm to have him set aside the jury’s $755K award to former UOPD Officer James Cleavenger is here.


Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 2.48.29 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 2.48.43 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 2.52.52 PM

The transcript for the remittitur plea arguments are here.

The question of how much UO will pay Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick for this failed remittitur plea is still up in the air, as is the possibility Judge Carter will shave a little off Kafoury’s bill. All in all the cost is already close to $2M. At one point Cleavenger offered to settle with UO for $600,000. I wonder if UO will pay HLGR by the hour to appeal this?

Previous posts here. Some highlights:

Judge asks if Doug Park is alive, and links to the trial transcripts:

UO spokesperson says insurance will pay all costs including HLGR fees – but won’t release PURMIT public records:

HLGR attorney Andrea Coit tells judge Cleavenger may be using his Go Ducks pin to send secret signals to freemasons on the jury:

UO decides that HLGR’s William F. Gary should make the remittitur arguments:

Was the Bowl of Dicks jury tainted by a secret Masonic blood oath?

You be the judge. For background on the Bowl and the verdict read this. The arguments on UO’s plea for remittitur will be in Portland on Friday.

Here’s Andrea Coit, the $290 an hour HLGR lawyer whom Randy Geller put in charge of defending UO against former UOPD officer James Cleavenger’s “Bowl of Dicks” lawsuit, on page 335 of the official trial transcript from day 2:

MS. COIT:  Mr. Cleavenger is wearing a Freemason pin on his lapel. I know the connotations for Freemasons. I don’t know the jury’s membership in any sort of community like that. I don’t think it’s necessary that he wears it.

THE COURT: He has the First Amendment right to wear whatever he wants to, frankly; but I wouldn’t say the Freemasons are real popular either, It cuts both ways.

MR. CLEAVENGER: Your Honor, it’s actually a University of Oregon pin.

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 12.22.30 AM

THE COURT: Oh, it is? Counsel?

MS. COIT: My apologies if that’s —

THE COURT: He’s going to give that to you. You’re a Duck, aren’t you?

MS. COIT: I am. Absolutely. My apologies if that’s —

What in the world was Ms Coit talking about? I’m no legal history professor, but it all started with one of the weirder episodes in early American politics:

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.10.23 AM

Wikipedia has more here. And if you google “freemason oath jury trial” you’ll find this, along with some similar anti-semitic arguments:

Page 183 of the Masonic Handbook states: Whenever you see any of our signs made by a brother Mason, and especially the grand hailing sign of distress, you must always be sure to obey them, even at the risk of your life. If you’re on a jury, and the defendant is a Mason and makes the grand hailing sign, you must obey it; you must disagree with your brother jurors, if necessary, but you must be sure not to bring the Mason guilty, for that would bring disgrace upon our order. You must conceal all crimes of your brother Masons except murder and treason, and these at your own option, and should you be summoned as a witness against a brother Mason, be always sure to shield him. Prevaricate, don’t tell the truth in this case, keep his secrets, forget the important points. It may be perjury to do this true, but you are keeping your obligations.”

More recent work on the Grand Masonic Conspiracy comes from the noted English barrister John Cleese, here. And here’s video of Louis Farrakhan, explaining how the Free Masons have manipulated US politics since George Washington – an idea which Farrakhan apparently got from watching Nicholas Cage in National Treasure, or maybe from reading way too many Dan Brown novels.

In short, the possibility that the plaintiff is using his lapel pin to make secret signals to his brother Masons on the jury is not the most credible argument to try out on a judge – even if it hadn’t turned out to be a Duck pin.

HLGR is due in court in Portland this Friday Feb 12th, for one last attempt to convince Federal Judge David O. Carter to set aside the jury’s verdict from September awarding Cleavenger $755K in damages plus legal fees. The docket is here. I’m starting to get a sense for why UO has decided to pay HLGR senior partner Bill Gary $315 an hour to give Ms Coit a little help with this case.

The best summary of events so far comes from longtime Oregonian reporter Betsy Hammond, here:

A federal jury awarded a former University of Oregon public safety officer $755,000 Friday after finding that UO Police Chief Carolyn McDermed and a top lieutenant retaliated against the young officer for blowing the whistle on department wrongdoing. The eight-person jury sided with ousted UO public safety officer James Cleavenger, who said the chief and Lt. Brandon Lebrecht vindictively retaliated against him for speaking out about department bias and ineptitude. Top university officials, including the No. 2 in-house lawyer, were in on the decision to punish him. “This is a victory for every honest police officer,” said Jason Kafoury, Cleavenger’s lead lawyer. “The jury today honored and enforced an officer’s right to speak freely on matters of public concern, regardless of whether their superiors approve.”

… Kafoury said of the verdict: “This is a loud and clear message that the University of Oregon needs to get new leadership in that police department.”

Top UO human resources officials were intimately involved in the decision to fire Cleavenger, and McDermed testified that Douglas Park, then UO’s No. 2 in-house lawyer, knew she was going to try to get Cleavenger on the Brady list. Since then, Park was promoted on an interim basis to be UO’s top in-house lawyer, but he is slated to return to the No. 2 job when a permanent successor takes over in about a week.

U of Cincinnati to pay $4.85M for alleged murder by armed campus cop

1/19/2016: The NY Times has the report here:

The University of Cincinnati has agreed to pay $4.85 million to the family of an unarmed black man who was shot to death in July by one of its police officers, a settlement that also requires the college to provide an undergraduate education to his 12 children, create a memorial to him on campus and include his family in discussions on police reform.

… Mr. DuBose, 43, was shot and killed on July 19 by Officer Ray Tensing, who pulled him over in a Cincinnati neighborhood adjacent to the campus because his car lacked a front license plate. The shooting was captured on a body camera, and Officer Tensing, who was fired from the department, faces trial on a charge of murder.

Here at UO, there’s still no formal announcement of when UOPD Chief McDermed will be replaced by new Assistant Chief of Police Chou Her. Presumably UO is delaying the announcement so as not to damage its efforts to convince the judge in the Bowl of Dicks trial to cancel the jury’s $755K award to former UOPD officer James Cleavenger. That hearing is Feb 12th.

The federal jury agreed that McDermed and other UOPD officers had violated the First Amendment by retaliating against Cleavenger for his opposition to arming the UOPD with Tazers. On which note the NYT adds:

Mr. DuBose is not the first black man to die as a result of an encounter with the University of Cincinnati police, and he will not be the first to have a memorial on campus. Kelly Brinson, 45, a psychiatric patient, and Everette Howard, 18, a student, died in 2010 and 2011 after campus officers fired stun guns at them, according to lawsuits filed by their families.

Of course campus police can be victims of shootings as well as perpetrators. It’s not clear if armed police are safer, even for themselves. One particularly sad story comes from the University of Central Florida, where a university cop was shot and killed by another officer, who was trying to control drinking at football game tailgate parties.

The green-shirted man with the gun is an undercover UCF police officer, pointing his pistol at a drunk UCF student. The student apparently grabbed the gun, it went off, and a uniformed police officer who hadn’t been told of the operation then shot and killed the undercover officer.

What happened to Richard Turkiewicz, the UCF police chief who set up this botched operation? Frances Dyke, former UO VPFA, hired him as UO’s interim Director of Public Safety. No kidding. Dyke then went on to persuade the Oregon legislature to allow UO to set up its own armed police force.

What sort of oversight does UO have for its police?

7/29/2015: Prosecutor and Trustee says university police force should be disbanded

Continue reading

Update: UO pays Bill Gary $315/hour to argue Bowl of Dicks lawyers are overpaid

Update: This post originally said “~$450/hour” for HLGR’s Bill Gary. I’ve now been told by the GC’s office that they negotiated him down to $315. The first time I asked for the billable rates for UO, the Public Records Office redacted them as trade secrets. I’d forgot about this, but they neglected to redact them from one invoice, so I have this info, showing we were paying Gary $290-$305 an hour in Jan 2013:

Lets call it a 5% increase over three years. Not bad considering the down legal market and recent public debacles from HLGR, such as when they represented Eugene’s 4J School District in the RG’s lawsuit to get the Berman public records. Right in the middle of the lawsuit someone at HLGR mistakenly emailed the entire dump of records to the Register Guard. Whoops: Word is that 4J quickly found a new law firm.

And the city of Eugene got rid of Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick in 2014, apparently saving millions in the process:


1/11/2015: The Greeks had a word for this kind of shit:

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 7.21.54 PM

Bill Gary is the well connected lawyer who in 2012 successfully argued that the state should have to pay himself and the other HLGR attorneys *twice* their normal billable hours – $868K – for their work on the Mark Long lawsuit against John Kroger’s DOJ. This case was an abortive precursor to the Cylvia Hayes scandals that ultimately brought down Governor Kitzhaber.

Randy Geller, at the time UO General Counsel, submitted a brief in favor of HLGR’s double-billing. I filed an ethics complaint against him and Gary with the Oregon Bar, as explained by Nigel Jaquiss in Willamette Week. It turned out that the Bar was not real excited about disciplining lawyers for trying to get money, and after some back and forth they told me to go away. Geller now works for HLGR – go figure.

But before HLGR hired him Geller had hired HLGR’s Andrea Coit, to defend UO against UOPD officer James Cleavenger’s First Amendment retaliation lawsuit. She lost.

The jury awarded Cleavenger $755K in damages, plus legal fees. Coit objected to the jury’s decision and to the fees, and Judge Carter has agreed to come back to Oregon in February and hear her plea. And now UO has added Bill Gary to the case:

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.01.54 AM

My guess is that Gary is charging UO $450 or so an hour Gary is charging UO $315 to try and convince Carter that Cleavenger’s Kafoury and McDougal attorneys are getting paid too much. I’m not sure how much HLGR has already billed UO on this, but it’s probably close to $500K so far. For losing.

Oh yeah, Gary also argued for the state in the recent lawsuit over Kitzhaber’s PERS cuts. I wonder how much he billed for that? He lost.

Live-blog: The Bowl of Dicks comes back to Eugene – is UO insured?

9/21/2015 live-blog:

Getting into the courthouse is like getting onto an airplane. Long line, and they confiscate my needle-nose pliers. Unlike TSA though, they promise to give them back. Here are the docs that I’ve got so far:

Cleavenger’s complaint, here.

UO’s motion to dismiss, here.

Cleavenger’ response, here.

More response, here.

Sitting in the court-room now. Cleavenger and his lawyers Adam Kiel and Mark McDougal, and ~$600 an hour of HLGR, namely Coit and noted zoning easement lawyer Jeff Matthews. Whoops, seems like Matthews is actually here for a zoning case. So only $300 an hour for UO. Plus Doug Park and some other legal looking types. Court is going through some other stuff, including a defamation case brought by a surgeon because his hospital said “he had been fired for cause” and “was in personal transition”. Don’t see Bill Gary here though. Case boils down to what are the implications of “fired for cause”. I don’t think I’d go to a surgeon about whom that was said – but his attorney says the “cause” was that he was sending patients to get care from cheaper outpatient clinics instead of to the hospital. Judge Carlson gives them 20 days to do discovery.

Attorney on the next case is HLGR partner Jeff Matthews, well known for his work for UO, bargaining against the GTFF, which led to a disastrous 8 day strike, and hundreds of thousands in billable hours for HLGR.

It’s a complaint against the Somerset Hills homeowners association and their duty to enforce the CCRs. Something about allegation that trash cans were not brought in from the street. Matthews comes across as a much nicer person when he’s talking to a judge than when he’s talking to students.  He represents the homeowners association. The owner of the home represents herself. New tenants next door, threw beer bottles on their lawn, etc. Homeowner tried everything, including police. Finally called the Homeowner’s association. Got no help, so she and her husband brought it to court. So far she’s walking all over Matthews. He comes back with some legal technicality about “being served”. Judge will rule later this week.

10:15, now for Cleavenger v. UO. Coit makes the argument to dismiss Matthews stays in court – is he billing us?

Coit gives a review. Cleavenger won in Federal court against several UO employees. Now he’s bringing it to state court, against UO. She assumed that he brought the State case in case he lost the Federal one. She seems to be arguing that since he won, he shouldn’t be able to bring the state case – even though new stuff came to light during the federal case, regarding who was potentially retaliating against him. And even though she’s trying to get the federal ruling vacated. While the state claim is against UO, Coit says it is the same actions as in the Federal case, which he already won economic damages on, (but not pain and suffering damages).

Judge in response to Kiel and McDougal: Are you arguing I should abate this case until UO’s objections to the federal case are resolved? Cleavenger’s lawyers seem to be saying yes. Judge wants to know if Cleavenger will go forward in state court if he gets final judgement from feds. (That said I’m a little confused).

Coit: We’re entitled to dismissal, not just abatement. Worst the federal judge will do in response to our calls for remittur is call for a retrial in federal court. If this goes to state court, it will be a 10 day trial, but moot because he’s already got damages. He won. It’s over. We ask for dismissal. (Whoa there – she’s saying Cleavenger won and it’s over, while at the same time she’s trying to get the jury award reversed?)

Judge Carlson: I’ll get out a ruling, if it goes against Cleavenger I’ll let him replead.

Posted 12/19: Arguments begin 9:00 AM, Monday, December 21, in Lane County Circuit Court, 125 E. 8th Ave.

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 12.57.42 PM

(Get your framed print from Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, here.)

I don’t know the court rules, but I’ll try to live-blog it. My understanding is that the state case will start Monday with arguments by UO’s HLGR lawyer Andrea Coit, arguing for dismissal. She lost the federal case in Portland back in October, badly. Assuming Coit also loses her plea to dismiss, James Cleavenger’s Khafoury and Macdougal attorneys will presumably get a chance to depose former Interim UO General Counsel Doug Park. They believe Park participated in UO’s retaliation against Cleavenger, over Cleavenger’s use of his First Amendment right to free speech.

During the 2 week jury trial Federal Judge David O. Carter saw that UO had redacted some of Doug Park’s emails. Carter didn’t like that, and started asking questions about Park. Like, “Who is Mr. Park? Where is Mr. Park? Is he alive?”:

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 1.25.44 PM

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 1.26.20 PM

Given that Park was Interim UO GC during much of this case, it seems possible that Park was supervising Coit’s defense, and authorizing the expenditure of public funds to HLGR, despite his alleged involvement in the retaliation. Amazing, if true.

This case is a long, long story already. The RG’s Diane Dietz has a good intro, here, and here’s Duck PR flack Tobin Klinger embarrassing response on the RG letters page. (Why does Klinger still have a job?) My wrap-up on the federal trial conclusion is here, with a link to the trial docs and transcripts, and the Oregonian’s report by Betsy Hammond, etc.

A summary so far:

First the UOPD fired Officer James Cleavenger, for offenses that the arbitrator ruled merited only a 3-day suspension. UO lost the arbitration complaint, and had to pay Cleavenger back pay and reinstate him, although Cleavenger already had obtained work clerking for a Federal Judge. Then UOPD Chief Carloyn McDermed and other UO employees retaliated against Cleavenger by blacklisting him from other police jobs. The case went to federal court in Portland. UO’s HLGR lawyers got the claim against UO as an institution dismissed, arguing that part was a state, not federal matter. After a two week jury trial against UOPD Chief Carloyn McDermed and other UO employees, the jury awarded Cleavenger $755K plus legal fees – more than he’d asked for. Let’s call it $1.6M, including what UO has to pay its outside attorneys at Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick. Then HLGR filed an appeal in federal court to reduce the jury award and fees. That will gets settled in February in Portland. Meanwhile Cleavenger’s lawyers filed a claim against UO in state court. Now HLGR’s Andrea Coit wants State Judge Judge Carlson to dismiss that claim. But since the only reason Cleavenger filed a state case is that Coit persuaded the federal judge to split the state part off from the federal case, this seems a little unlikely, not that I’m a lawyer. First she argued it was appropriate for state court, now she’s going to argue it’s not?

And yes, HLGR charges UO by the hour. How did you guess?

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 2.46.32 PM

But some UO PR flack will be saying don’t worry, UO’s insurance will cover all the costs of this bizarre JH debacle, as they told student reporter Noah McGraw in the Daily Emerald back in October, after HLGR lost the federal case:

UO has an insurance policy that will pay all $1.6 million. The Public Universities Risk Management and Insurance Trust, PURMIT, covers the seven public universities in Oregon.

“The University of Oregon has comprehensive insurance for situations involving University employees, officers and volunteers as well as the buildings, vehicles and other assets,” Julie Brown, the Campus Relations Director of Enterprise Risk Management, said. “The insurance program covers everything from earthquake damage to art collections.”

In the Cleavenger vs. UOPD trial, the insurance policy will cover 100 percent of the damages, with a $0 deductible for the university.

I do not think Ms Brown told Mr. McGraw the truth. The PURMIT website, here, is not exactly a model of transparency regarding the expenditure of millions in state funds, but what I can figure out PURMIT is a risk-sharing pool for Oregon’s seven public universities, with outside reinsurance for losses beyond some threshold. Which means that it is very likely that the costs of this case, and the Jane Doe lawsuit, and the James Fox settlement, etc., etc., are not being “paid by the insurance company” but instead are being spread out among UO, OSU, PSU, WOU, SOU, EOU, and OIT. Assuming the sharing is in proportion to budgets, this means UO is paying about 1/3 and the Beavers are covering about 1/3, up to the reinsurance threshold. And, of course, if the allocation of insurance premiums is in proportion to historical claims, UO will get hit for more.

So after the Emerald story came out, I asked UO’s PURMIT representative, Deb Donning, this:

So would it be accurate to say “For a given liability claim the department pays the first $5K and the PURMIT risk pool pays the next $1M. That $1M is shared among the 7 universities in rough proportion to prior claims. Amounts above $1M are paid by the PURMIT insurer United Educators”

She wouldn’t answer. So I made a public records request to UO for the PURMIT meetings material that would show what’s going on:

Date: November 18, 2015 at 9:05:02 AM PST
To: Lisa Thornton <[email protected]>, Deb Donning <[email protected]>
Cc: Kevin Reed <[email protected]>, Kyle Henley <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: PURMIT

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for the meeting materials distributed for PURMIT meetings from 7/1/2014 to the present, and for an email address and other contact information for Ryan Britz.

I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest, as demonstrated by the public funds involved and by statements by UO communications regarding insurance coverage for liability that have been quoted in the press.

The DOJ says PR requests should normally be satisfied in two weeks. It took UO a month to respond, and that was just a pro-forma denial of my fee waiver request:

From: “Thornton, Lisa” <[email protected]>
Date: December 17, 2015 at 4:48:47 PM PST
To: [email protected]
Subject: Public Records Request 2016-PRR-135


Dear Mr. Harbaugh:

The University of Oregon has received your public records request for “…the meeting materials distributed for PURMIT meetings from 7/1/2014 to the present, and for an email address and other contact information for Ryan Britz.” on 11/18/2015, attached. The office has at least some documents responsive to your request. With this email, the office is providing you with an estimate to respond to your request.

The office estimates the actual cost of responding to your request to be $267.06. Upon receipt of a check made payable to the University of Oregon for that amount, the office will proceed to locate, copy, and provide the records you have requested that are not exempt from disclosure. Your check may be sent to the attention of Office of Public Records, 6207 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-6207.

You requested a waiver based on an assertion that release of these documents is in the public interest. The office has performed the three-part analysis of your request, has determined that your request does not meet the public interest test, and has exercised its discretion to deny your request for a fee waiver. Upon receipt of payment outlined above, the office will begin to prepare your requested documents.

$267.07 for some pdfs that are sitting in a folder in Deb Donning’s email, and are needed because UO’s press office won’t give a straight answer on who is paying millions for UO’s plethora of lawsuits? Come on, this is not transparency, and it’s not building trust.