Over the past 25 years I've taken cases to verdict or judgment in state and federal courts in disputes ranging from a few thousand dollars to several million dollars. People rely on my advice to resolve claims before they escalate to litigation, and on my trial experience and success in obtaining early judgments before the case goes to trial. I've worked with businesses and individuals to resolve disputes involving contracts, investments, fiduciary responsibilities, labor investigations, ERISA pension and welfare benefits, creditors' claims against debtors in bankruptcy, and claims under state and federal debt collection and credit laws.
Labor Law - Extensive representation for businesses and individuals under DOL investigation and in defense of fiduciary liability claims in ERISA actions brought by the DOL and/or participants.; Extensive experience in MPPAA withdrawal liability litigation, including defense of claims against putative successors and members of controlled group.
Financial Industry - Defense of class actions and putative class actions in consumer claims arising from financial instruments; Litigation under the Oregon Securities Law.
Creditors' Rights - Experience in adversary and claim proceedings in bankruptcy court for creditors; Defense of Litigation under federal FDCPA and Oregon's fair debt collection practices law.
ERISA - Extensive experience in pension and welfare benefits regulation and litigation and in claims arising under the MPPAA.
- Oregon Division of Finance and Corporate Securities / SEC Claims
Represented CEO and President of closely held corporation with more than $2 billion in asset value in all phases of investigation and litigation initiated by the Enforcement Division of the Oregon Division of Finance and Securities, to include proceedings pending before administrative law judge and by the Enforcement Division of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s San Francisco Regional Office. Defeated SEC’s motion for preliminary injunctive relief.
- Investor Fraud, Venture Capital Fund (Investment fraud)
One of three lead lawyers for several dozen members of venture capital funds for investigation and trial to verdict against fund manager and accountants. Jury awarded the clients $54,031,222 and an additional $15,000,000 in punitive damages for theft by the manager and complicity by his accountants.
- ERISA Pension Fiduciary Litigation (Fiduciary Defense)
Defended corporate directors and officers and pension plan trustees against claims for breach of fiduciary duties under ERISA where individual exposure exceeded $1,500,000. Negotiated orderly termination, liquidation and settlement of plan and plan liabilities in compliance with PTE 2003-39.
- Creditors’ Rights (Creditors’ Claims in Bankruptcy Actions)
Represented individual and institutional creditors’ rights in secured and unsecured claims in proceedings under Chapters 7 and 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.
- Class Action Defense (Consumer Law Litigation)
Obtained dismissal of state and nationwide consumer class action lawsuit. Court applied contractual arbitration and class waiver provision to non-signatory client under equitable estoppel to dismiss the case. 5/22/2012 Opinion can be accessed here: [LINK].
- ERISA Withdrawal Liability Litigation
Defense of non-union business owner and contractor against claims by multiemployer pension plan for withdrawal liability under "successor employer" theory under Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendment Act (MPPAA) and ERISA.
- ERISA Pension Litigation ("Poison Pill" asset claim)
Defended Fortune 100 company in $20,000,000 putative class action. Court dismissed all claims against the client on summary judgment based on analysis of change in control provisions under state corporate law and controlling principles under ERISA.
- ERISA Pension Litigation (Employee Stock Ownership Plan)
Achieved seven-figure settlement for ESOP participants and beneficiaries in claims against fiduciaries and advisors. The matter was resolved with all assets distributed within 25 months of the first client conference.
- ERISA Pension Litigation (Taft-Hartley Plans)
Defense of Taft-Hartley trustees for 13 plans in $500,000,000 pension fraud perpetrated by investment manager, Capital Consultants, LLC. Successful resolution with class participants and Department of Labor with no personal liability against trustees. Successful resolution of claims by trustees against investment manager and advisors resulting in 9-figure recovery for Taft-Hartley plan participants and trustees.
- Class Action Litigation
Defense of class action certification and litigation in consumer services industry and in pension plan claims.
- Life, Health and Disability
Defense of more than 100 claims arising under individual and group life insurance contracts and disability income contracts under ERISA and state law. Includes litigation arising from financial services products including annuities and universal, variable and whole life policies as well as consumer credit products. Trial to judgement verdict on individual and group contracts. Representative decisions include: Story v. Safeco Life Ins. Co., 179 Or.App. 688(2002) (JNOV for client affirmed); Richardson v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 161 Or.App. 615 (1999) (summary judgment for client affirmed); Metropolitan Life Insurance Company v. Holland, 134 F.Supp.2d 1197 (D.Or. 2001) (declaratory judgment for client under Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Act); Dames v. Paul Revere Life Ins. Co., 49 F.Supp.2d 1194 (D. Or. 1999) (partial summary judgment for client under ERISA); F.N. v. Provident Life and Acc. Ins. Co., 2003 WL 22442972 (dismissing claims for injunctive relief and extra-contractual damages); McKeown v. Paul Revere Life Ins. Co., 2009 WL 1491181 (summary judgment for client affirmed); McAninch-Ruenzi v. Board of Pension of the Presbyterian Church USA, 2007 WL 1039495 (granting client’s partial summary judgment and dismissing adverse attorney fee claims).
- Business Entity Disputes
Represented individuals and entities in disputes arising out of formation, governance and dissolution of partnerships and limited liability companies.
- Municipalities and Individual Policy Holders
Defense of claims against municipalities, business entities and individuals in claims ranging from product defects to business disputes to injuries sustained in an attack by a neighbor’s pet leopard.
Peer Review Recognitions
- AV, Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
- Best Lawyers in America
Professional & Civic Involvement
- Compassion First, Board of Directors (2010 - Current)
- American Bar Association, Tort and Insurance Practice Section (Life Insurance Law Committee: Chair, 2002-2003)
- Defense Research Institute
- Multnomah County Bar Association
- Oregon State Bar Association