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  1. Public Body Must Reveal Information from its Attorney’s Bill

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    Public Records Law requires public body disclosure of more detail from attorney’s billing statements, ruled the Kentucky Attorney General.

    The request came from the editor of the College Heights Herald to Western Kentucky University seeking billing and payment records between the University and a law firm. WKU produced a heavily blacked-out version of the billing statement.

    WKU argued redactions were appropriate to preserve the information protected by the attorney-client and work-product privileges.

    The attorney general’s opinion sets forth the following points:

    • The attorney-client privilege is limited.  It covers only a communication that is confidential and relates to the rendition of legal services.
    • Information about payment of fess is not a confidential communication.
    • Public bodies may not black out general information such as the words “research,” or “witness interviews” or “discussion with client” or “continue draft of letter to client.”
    • Public bodies must produce records on billing rates, hours worked, money spent because such information is not privileged.

    A summary of aggregate billing information rather than the records themselves did not comply with Kentucky’s Open Records Act. Summaries are not a substitute for providing access to the documents.

    Under Oregon’s Public Records Law, exemptions or privileges must be construed narrowly. Public officials must separate privileged confidential communications from information that does not disclose secrets and then produce the non-privileged information.  Advocates for those seeking public records can draw from the great body of law on attorney-client and work-product privileges when making their cases.

    Jeff Merrick, Attorney
    © 2018 by Jeff Merrick and Merrick Law, LLC.

  2. Woman may sue former co-worker for badmouthing her after she left employment.

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    Yesterday, the Oregon Court of Appeals held a woman may sue a surgeon (who allegedly harassed her at work) for defamation AND for retaliation under the employment laws even though surgeon was not her employer.  The employment law claim provides for attorney fees, where a defamation claim does not.  He badmouthed her AFTER both left their place of employment.

    When employed by Hope Orthopedics, Ms. McLaughlin alleged to her employer that Dr. K. Wilson had harassed her.  She resigned to attend graduate school at Willamette University.  Dr. Wilson later left Hope Orthopedics, too.  Dr. Wilson communicated with the graduate school administrator, accusing Ms. McLaughlin of making false and career-ruining accusations to make money.

    Ms. McLaughlin sued Dr. Wilson for his remarks to the school administrator.  She alleged defamation and a claim under an employment law statute, ORS 659A.030(1)(f).  It prohibits discrimination against a person who “has opposed any unlawful practice, or because that person has filed a complaint, testified or assisted in any proceeding” under the employment laws.  It is the anti-retaliation law.   

    Because Dr. Wilson was not her employer, the trial court threw out the employment law claim.

    Oregon’s Court of Appeals disagreed with the trial court.  It held that “person” in the statute is not limited to employer and could apply to Dr. Wilson in this case.

    Perhaps the better rule is what my parents told me, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”  (I can’t say I always follow that rule.)

    Jeff Merrick, Oregon Litigation Attorney
    (c) 2018 by Merrick Law, LLC and Jeff Merrick.

  3. EEOC Settlements During the First Quarter of 2018

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    EEOC settlements last quarter included calling a veteran with PTSD “psycho,” firing a pregnant bartender who could not fit into hot pants, and refusing to hire a recovering drug addict under medical supervision.  I highlight these plus the other resolutions announced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Continue Reading

  4. A Win for My Client and Government Accountability

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    Reporter Beth Slovic and Kimberly Sordyl, a strong advocate for schoolchildren won their public records lawsuit.  Each asked Portland Public Schools for public records on employees who are on paid leave.  They believed management was parking people on paid leave instead of resolving whatever allegations or problems put them on leave.  I represented Kim Sordyl.

    The school district refused to provide the records. Continue Reading

  5. Suing an Oregon Attorney – Statutes of Limitations

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    Every claim in Oregon has time limitations. When a claim is not filed on time, it is lost forever. This article summarizes some of the statutes of limitations for claims against civil lawyers (not criminal lawyers).

    WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: Hire a lawyer. This article is no substitute. It skims the surface. Plus, everyone’s situation differs, including claims for minors or elders.


    What’s the statute of limitations for legal malpractice in Oregon?

    Oregon clients must sue their attorneys within two years from “discovery” of the claim.

    What does “Discovery” of a claim mean? Continue Reading

  6. Suing an Oregon Attorney for Fraud

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    Oregonians may sue their attorneys for fraud just the same as we can sue others for fraud.

    WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: Hire a lawyer. This article is no substitute, and everyone’s situation differs.

    What do I have to prove to win a fraud lawsuit against my Oregon attorney? Continue Reading

  7. EEOC Resolutions Last Quarter

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    Threatening women not to get pregnant; “maximize longevity” as an excuse to prefer younger applicants; and who paid $9.8 million because it required “no restrictions” before allowing workers back from medical leave?  These were among the 26 resolutions announced last quarter by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  I summarize them below. Continue Reading

  8. Legal Malpractice Primer

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    Great attorneys care for their clients with skill, wisdom and diligence.  Unfortunately, some attorneys fail in one or more of those categories. When lawyers do not “own up” to their mistakes and settle, a client may need to sue.  This article sets forth what a client must prove to win a legal malpractice case in Oregon and what attorneys sometimes offer as defenses.  Depending on the facts, a client may have other claims against attorneys, including breach of contract, fraud, theft and breach of fiduciary duty. Continue Reading