Toxic warning labels… for pets.

August 26th, 2013 by Scott Leonard

The Oregonian has an article in today’s paper telling the story of a pet owner whose cat became sick from eating lilies purchased from a grocery store. The pet owner filed a lawsuit alleging that the grocery store and its floral distributor had a duty to disclose to consumers that the plant is toxic to animals. The plaintiff is seeking compensation for the vet bills and an agreement that the companies will label lilies as dangerous for cat consumption.

I suppose that a person’s opinion of this matter depends on whether the person knew that lilies were bad for cats in the first place.

Feds Install Cameras on Private Property; Not a Search per Court

January 20th, 2013 by Scott Leonard

A federal court in Wisconsin has ruled that the government may install security video cameras on private property and use that evidence in criminal proceedings. In U.S. v. Marco Magana, the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence was denied by the district court. In the case, DEA agents entered rural private property and installed cameras that recorded activity on that property. The evidence collected by the cameras led to a search warrant, arrests, and convictions. The court ruled that the DEA’s actions were permissible in spite of the undisputed fact that the property’s perimeter was posted with signs declaring “No Trespassing” and “Private Property.” The defendants intend to appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court.

Affording a Lawyer in Small Dollar Amount Civil Claims

December 10th, 2012 by Scott Leonard

Many people find themselves in need of an attorney in pursuing small claims. Not all disputes can involved six or seven figures, right? In fact, most claims for personal injury or property damages are at the lower end of the spectrum (under $10,000). As a plaintiff, it can be difficult to justify the expense of hiring an attorney to pursue a small claim.

In Oregon there is a strong incentive for attorneys to take on and aggressively litigate small dollar amount claims. A pair of important Oregon laws provide for mandatory attorney fees to a victorious plaintiff in personal injury, property damage, and breach of contract cases when certain conditions are met. In a nutshell, the laws provide mandatory attorney fees when the plaintiff recovers more than the defendant’s offer to settle the case.

ORS 20.080 applies to actions for personal injury and property damage, while ORS 20.082 applies to breaches of contract. There are important limitations to the laws. First, the laws are limited to cases involving a dollar amount of $10,000 or less. Second, the defendant’s response is very important.  The laws require the defendant to pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees only if the plaintiff recovers more than the defendant’s counteroffer after an arbitration or trial. If the plaintiff does not, then each party bears the responsibility of attorney fees. These laws are swords as well as shields, as a defendant may make a counterclaim on the plaintiff and potentially recover their own attorney’s fees.

It is important to consult with an attorney if you have questions regarding  a small claim. I have litigated small claims covered by ORS 20.080 and recovered attorney’s fees up to 3x the amount of damages. These laws give plaintiffs a strong upper hand in obtaining a fair and just recovery for their injuries or damages.

Pooch Put on Death Row

May 18th, 2010 by Scott Leonard

Somebody get this dog a lawyer!

PPS and PPB: Outcompeting Each Other in Incompetence

May 16th, 2010 by Scott Leonard

Portland Public Schools recently distributed comic books to all students within the system, including elementary students. Who knows what is on the first 23 pages, but the 24th page and back cover is this, a rather threatening and graphic explanation of Measure 11 charges and punishments. Really? Since the law doesn’t even apply to juveniles under 15, why do kindergartners need to be threatened informed that Sex Abuse II is when:

“You are baby-sitting or playing with a small child. You have sexual contact with them by touching their penis, vaginal area, or anus, or by making them touch you in those same places. You will go to prison and could be there for 6 years and 3 months.”

Who designed and approved this brochure? Why, Portland Police Bureau of course. Calling Chief Reese!

Police execute dog while serving search warrant

May 5th, 2010 by Scott Leonard

Here is some graphic video of police in Missouri (Mizzourah to locals) serving a search warrant. Within seconds, heavily armored officers entered the house and shot two of the family’s dogs, killing one. And who got to witness all of this? The family’s 7 year old boy. Of course, the cops were acting on “the most updated information available” that the home was a distribution site for large amounts of marijuana. What did the cops find? A “small amount” of pot, along with a grinder and personal pipe. Dad is now facing three misdemeanor counts, including child endangerment charges (mom too). Fortunately, the family was compliant during the invasion (smart) and were not harmed. Notice that when the father is arrested, he immediately asks for an attorney (really smart).

How not to hide from the police…

May 3rd, 2010 by Scott Leonard

From our neighbors up north, comes a story with an odd smell. I suppose it’s one thing to hide in a Honey Bucket; it’s quit another to hide WITHIN the Honey Bucket.

Firing Squad set to go in Utah

April 23rd, 2010 by Scott Leonard

In Utah, things are done the old-fashioned way. Mr. Ronnie Lee Gardner is set to be executed by the State for a pair of murders in the 1980’s. Sentenced before 2004, when the law changed, Mr. Gardner is allowed to choose his manner of execution, between lethal injection or firing squad. His choice? “I would like the firing squad, please,” Gardner said. Naturally, not everyone is happy with the decision. Including the victim’s friends and family.

Oregon has the Best Bandits

December 10th, 2009 by Scott Leonard

We’ve survived the River Rat Bandits. And who can forget the hilarity that was the Waddling Bandit? Which not-so-funnily led to a man being wrongly accused and held in jail (that check better be in the mail!).  But this fall, Oregon is facing dual bandit terrors.

First, there is Clackamas County’s Grandpa Bandit. Now, as far as crime monikers go, the Grandpa Bandit is a great one. Seriously, what jury wants to convict the Grandpa Bandit? No one wants to put ol’ Gramps in the slammer. In Portland, we have the Fantasia Bandit. Keep Portland weird, right? From fantasy video stores to banks, Fantasia makes all of your armed-robbery dreams come true.

Ninth Circuit Asks Brandon Mayfield to Go Home

December 10th, 2009 by Scott Leonard

It’s unfortunate to see that Brandon Mayfield lost his challenge to the Patriot Act based on standing. For non-lawyers, standing is a legal concept for whether or not you have the right to challenge a law by filing a lawsuit. I can’t believe that appellate judges truly believe that declaratory judgments don’t impact people or their families. Where’s the help, Ninth Circuit? Hopefully, Mayfield has enough financial backing to file an appeal. A .pdf of the ruling is here.

Remember: when the government arrests you and takes all of your stuff, make sure to get it back before you sign anything.