Jun 13, 2017

We Welcome Michael Litvin to Our Firm

ML 061317We jubilantly welcome Michael Litvin to our firm.  Michael graduated from Southridge High School in Beaverton, Oregon before graduating from University of California, Berkeley with a double major in Rhetoric and Political Science in 2-1/2 years with Highest Distinction in General Scholarship.  Michael earned his Juris Doctorate from Cornell Law School in 2009 where he served as an Associate Editor and Fellow with the Legal Information Institute (LII), Managing Editor of the Cornell International Law … Read more

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Jun 12, 2017

Retirement Plans and Estate Planning

RetirementRetirement plans (i.e., pension plans, 401(k) plans, employer established IRA plans, etc.)  account for the majority of assets held by most Americans.  Plans which meet certain legal requirements set forth under the federal ERISA law enjoy favorable tax treatment in order to promote growth and provide a comfortable retirement for the account holder.  For example, the account holder is permitted to defer taking any distributions from his/her retirement account until the calendar year in which … Read more

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May 16, 2017

Now That We’ve Taken Your Money, Prove Why We Shouldn’t Keep It; Or, The Advantages of a Presumption of Guilt

Prison cellsSome states apparently insist that even if your criminal conviction is overturned on appeal and the charges against you are dismissed, the state should still keep any fines you’ve paid unless and until you can prove that you were actually innocent of the crime you were charged with in the first place.  In other words, they actually have a presumption of guilt that you have to overcome before the state will return the fines you … Read more

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May 10, 2017

Law, Logic and Experience

SidewalkMore than a century ago, Oliver Wendell Holmes observed, “the life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”   I wonder what Justice Holmes would think of the matter these days when cases come down the pike which seem to run counter to both logic and experience.

For a case in point, consider a report from the Oregonian recently describing how a lawsuit against Washington County for the drowning deaths of four … Read more

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May 9, 2017

The Donut Disability and Other Ailments of Public Employment

DonutsPerhaps it’s not surprising but public employees take significantly more time off from work than workers in the private sector.  As pointed out in Steven Malanga’s City Journal article, there are various causes promoting this difference between employees in the private and public sectors.  Among other things, public sector employees can often retire on full disability while continuing to work full time in other jobs.  Many jurisdictions such as New York City apparently offer … Read more

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May 3, 2017

Yellow Traffic Lights are Too Brief but Don’t Try to Tell the State of Oregon’s Board of Engineering Examiners – It Will Certainly Ignore Your Message and Fine You for Speaking

Yellow traffic lightIn an email to the Oregon State Board of Engineering an electronics engineer argued that yellow traffic lights in the state were too brief and thus put the public at risk.  He supported his arguments with calculations and graphs which he prepared at his own cost in his free time.

The Oregon State Board of Engineering disregarded the substance of his email but attacked the author, Mats Jarlstrom, for referring to himself as an “electronics … Read more

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Apr 26, 2017

Flying Hotdogs: An Exception to the Baseball Rule

hot-33810_1280If you have ever attended a professional baseball game, you know that the fun includes trying to snag a foul ball which makes its way into the stands. Unfortunately, one fan’s fun can be another fan’s peril.  Every so often, some unsuspecting spectator gets clunked by a foul ball traveling at a speed in excess of 90 mph.  Ouch.  Is a baseball team and/or its stadium operator liable for such injuries?  The answer, almost always, … Read more

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Apr 6, 2017

Local Governments Get in the Business of Crony Capitalism and Union Organizing

UnionCity, county and state governments throughout the United States often enact measures to protect or promote favored business groups.  The City of Portland’s efforts to protect the cab companies through ordinances limiting the rates and services of other businesses that transport individuals within the metro area such as airport limos, Uber and Lyft recently received judicial approval from the Ninth Circuit in Speed’s Auto Servs. Group v. City of Portland, 2017 U.S. App Lexis 5551 … Read more

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Apr 3, 2017

Are Cab Drivers Employees or Independent Contractors? It All Depends…

Taxi cabA recent decision from our federal appeals court ruled that drivers of the Yellow Cab Company in Phoenix, Arizona are not employees of the cab company but, instead, are independent contractors who are not entitled to the minimum wages required by either Arizona law or the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)[1].  The decision was issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirming a trial court decision issued by … Read more

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Mar 13, 2017

Another Stab at Cargo Preference for the U.S. Merchant Marine

Cargo ShipThere are approximately 50,000 merchant ships engaged in international trade, transporting every kind of cargo.[1]  Fewer than 200 of those ships fly the American flag.[2]  What is left of the U.S. merchant marine is heavily dependent on cargo preference laws; i.e., federal statutes which mandate that shippers transport certain cargos on U.S. flag vessels.  For example, any military cargo shipped by sea must be carried in a U.S. flag ship.  Other laws mandate … Read more

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