James Laurick’s practice is primarily litigation related with an emphasis on commercial, bankruptcy, construction, product liability, personal injury, and insurance related matters. He has had numerous bench and jury trials and he has broad experience representing lenders, equipment financers, and lessors of personal property as well as contractors, manufacturers, material suppliers, and insurers. He also has particular expertise in bank and lender agreements, secured lending transactions, workouts, and recoveries. James was in-house counsel for the Oregon Bank and Orbanco, the predecessor to Bank of America Oregon from 1982 - 1984, and he currently represents a number of regional and national banks. He was a law clerk to the Honorable Irving Steinbock for Multnomah County Circuit Court while attending law school in 1980 - 1981. His practice also emphasizes contractor disputes, lien laws, and bond recoveries. James also represents a number of insurers and claimants in personal injury and product liability disputes.
- Bank v. Developer. We represented a national bank against a Seattle, Washington developer. After a hotly-contested, five-day arbitration in Seattle, Washington, bank obtained a substantial deficiency judgment against a local developer under the Washington Trust Deed Statutes. At issue were the numerous common law and statutory defenses raised by defendants including the “Fair Value” of real property that had been foreclosed non-judicially. This was one of the first cases litigated under the Washington statutes.
- Bank v. Construction Contractor. We represented a national bank in an action against a construction contractor. Because of concern about the disposition of the borrower’s accounts receivable, suit was filed and within one week a court ordered the borrower to surrender immediately all of its collateral including the accounts. The lender then sent out letters to the customer’s account debtors instructing them to pay the bank directly which resulted in a substantial recovery.
- Developer v. Bank. A developer sued our regional bank client for accepting for deposit into the local manager’s personal account checks payable to the business. We developed a defense theory that plaintiff did not supervise the manager closely and that the local manager in fact used the money for business purposes. After several efforts to mediate were unsuccessful, the matter went to trial. At the start of the fourth day of trial, the Portland trial court revoked out-of-state’s counsel’s pro hac vice admission. Defendant moved for a directed verdict after plaintiff said it couldn’t continue and the judge denied plaintiff’s request for a reset. The matter was appealed and the trial result was affirmed. Tahvili v. Washington Mut. Bank, 197 P.3d 541, 224 Or. App. 96 (Or. App., 2008).
- Customer v. Bank. The bank’s customer brought suit against the bank for improperly accepting checks that had been embezzled by the customer’s bookkeeper and then deposited into her account. We successfully defended on the basis that plaintiff had not timely notified the bank and that plaintiff’s own negligence caused the loss.
- Lienholder Bank. We represented a regional bank in a bankruptcy involving its customer which owned a dairy herd. A supplier of feed filed an agricultural services lien that on its face was time stamped by the clerk indicating that it beat the bankruptcy by about 30 minutes. Under Oregon law, the lien would typically be superior to the bank. However, we were able to defeat the lien on the basis that the bankruptcy petition was handed to the clerk earlier that morning before the lien claim was filed with the Secretary of State. After the lien claimant rejected our settlement offer of the parties walking away from their claims without payment, we continued to litigate and won the case and recovered our attorney fees from the lien claimant.
- Bank v. Customer. The bank challenged the borrower and bankrupt’s discharge of its debt to the bank on the basis that he willfully transferred the collateral to a third party. The bank chose not to pursue that third party but instead filed an action against the bankrupt. During depositions, we were able to establish that debtor was quite experienced generally with secured transactions and knew that he needed the bank’s approval to transfer collateral. When confronted with the specific terms of the applicable security agreement the debtor tried to change his testimony, but to no avail. At trial, the bankruptcy judge granted the bank a judgment for the full amount of the debt.
- Personal Injury Plaintiff v. Bank. Bank and its employee were sued in a personal injury action where the plaintiff was rear-ended by the bank employee who was in the course and scope of his employment. Because plaintiff did not sue them, we brought into the case as third-party defendants the driver and her passenger of a car that had crossed the grassy median of I-205 into oncoming traffic that caused plaintiff to stop on the side of the road and the bank employee to rear-end the plaintiff. Fairly recent changes had been made in Oregon law that provide for several liability only (instead of joint and several) where the responsible party is less than 25% at fault. We were able to successfully argue that the third party defendant driver and her passenger were the real cause of the accident and, therefore, bank’s proportionate share of responsibility was less than twenty-five percent. As a result, bank would not be liable for the entire claim but only its percentage of fault.
Professional & Civic Involvement
- Member, Environmental Law Review (1979-1981)
- Author: A Recent Development,@ 11 Environmental Law 187, (1980)
- Associate Counsel, The Oregon Bank and Orbanco (1982-1984)
- Associate Editor, TIPS ABA (1990-1994)
- Editor, Oregon’s Construction Law Newsletter (1988)
- Member, Multnomah County and American Bar Associations
- Oregon State Bar Debtor-Creditor Section;
- Oregon State Bar Construction Section;
- Editor of Oregon Construction Law newsletter;
- Oregon State Bar Business Law Section; and the
- American Bar Association TIPS editor.
Peer Review Recognition
- AV; Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell