Central Oregon Community College Settles Stabbing Lawsuit
posted in: Current Affairs

Central Oregon Community College has settled a lawsuit filed by one of their students over a stabbing incident that occurred on Halloween night back in 2014. The student, James Briles, said in the suit that the had college failed to place him with a new roommate after being notified of his old roommate’s strange and scary behavior, despite multiple requests filed by Briles to the school.

After the requests, Briles’ roommate stabbed him repeatedly, apparently close to a dozen times, causing him to undergo multiple surgeries and spend six days in the hospital.

“COCC’s indemnity provider will be making a payment to Mr. Briles to assist with his medical expenses and ongoing treatment…Both parties are (pleased) to save all involved the need to revisit this tragic event in litigation” said Ron Paradis, spokesman for the college.

Although the settlement amount has not been revealed, Briles originally sought $500,000 in economic damages and $2,500,000 in noneconomic damages. The college maintained that the injuries were caused by a third party outside the school’s control.

The suit alleged that the school knew the roommate posed a safety threat, as Briles had filed multiple requests for a new roommate, and less than a week prior to the stabbing the roommate had screamed violently and repeatedly in the lobby of their college dorm, Juniper Hall. Campus Public Safety responded to the incident, noting that two other students also felt concern for their safety.

The roommate spent months in the state mental hospital after his arrest and pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon. Court records indicate he will be relying on a defense of guilty except for insanity.

Willamette Valley Brands Hit With Massive Vegetable Recall
posted in: Food Safety

NORPAC and Stahlbush Island Farms, two brands owned by Willamette Valley, are recalling frozen vegetables purchased from a food processor at the center of a massive outbreak of Listeria, after 358 fruit and vegetable products provided by CRF Frozen Foods were believed to be contaminated.

Stahlbush Island Farms is recalling its 10-ounce paper bags of green beans which were sold in the Pasco area, due to processing by CRF Frozen Foods, the apparent epicenter of the contamination. Karla Chambers, owner of Stahlbush Isand Farms, says that although the family farm cultivates 5,000 acres in Oregon, they occasionally have to work with other growers and processors, like CRF.

“That green been equipment is very expensive” said Chambers, “We by far grow and process the majority of products but it’s not uncommon for us to work with a processor”

In a similar recall, NORPAC is recalling bags of mixed vegetables and green peas sold under its Natural Directions label due to their distribution with CRF Frozen Foods.

“What happens is many manufacturers in the region purchase bulk organic produce from CRF and repackage for private-label branding” said Amy Wood, spokeswoman for NORPAC.

So far eight people have been infected by strains of Listeria, although no cases have been a result of Stahlbush or NORPAC’s vegetables.

CRF Frozen Foods, a food producer which packages products sold under multiple names and brands, sits on 8000 acres at Thremile Canyon Farm in Boardman, Oregon, and is also the site one of the largest dairies in the nation, as the manure from the dairy is used to fertilize the crops.

The US Food and Drug Administration has also traced a closely related strain of Listeria back to an unrelated farm in Oregon.

“[the] FDA is working to identify other parts of the relevant supply chain that may have product relating to this outbreak, however [the] FDA is prohibited by law from releasing publicly certain information about supply chains, which may constitute confidential commercial information.” Said the agency in a press release.

Consumers with recalled products are encouraged to discard the items or return them to a store for a full refund.

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Seeking Drivers Licenses for Illegal Immigrants

A U.S District Court judge in Oregon has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to give illegal immigrants access to short-term driver’s licenses.

The suit, which named Democratic Governor Kate Brown and leaders of the state Department of Transportation as defendants, sought to restore a 2013 law passed by the Oregon Legislature which provided for access to short-term licenses for illegal immigrants. The law was overturned in November 2014 by Oregon voters under Measure 88.

The refusal to issue drivers licenses is considered unconstitutional by many, as immigration regulation is done at the federal level, and not a “legitimate state interest” according to the suit, which was filed on behalf of five illegal immigrants from Mexico. The lawsuit also claims that refusal to issue licenses is “arbitrary” and “capricious” and “motivated, at least in part, by animus towards Mexicans and Central Americans.”

Ann Aiken, The U.S District Judge presiding over the suit, wrote that she lacked the authority to compel the state to issue driver’s licenses, and also noted that the original 2013 law, SB 833, never actually went into effect as an Oregon Law, which means that even if she invalidated Measure 88, there would still be no law to officially grant these individuals driver’s licenses.

“As such, the state defendants are not refusing to issue driver cards because a referendum motivated by discriminatory animus prevents them from doing so; they cannot issue driver cards because no valid, existing Oregon law authorizes them to do so.” wrote Aiken.

Aiken’s decision was supported by the office of Oregon’s attorney general, who had previously submitted a motion to dismiss the suit, noting that the state “agrees that enacting a driver card program would have benefited (the plaintiffs) and would have been good policy for the state [but that] the relief the plaintiffs seek – the enactment and implementation of SB 833 – cannot be imposed on the state by the federal court in this action”

Oregon had previously allowed residents to get a driver’s license regardless of legal status, but the practice was discontinued in 2008 due to the federal REAL ID Act, which required residents to prove legal status to get one.

Former nurse indicted for abusing 2 more patients

Police are asking any other victims to please come forward –

BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — A former nurse accused of sexually abusing patients was indicted on more charges Monday in connection with 2 newly identified victims.

Alex Woolner, 37, was arrested in April and charged with sexually abusing patients and accessing their cell phones.

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Judge Won’t Dismiss CIA Interrogation Law Suit
posted in: Current Affairs

A federal judge in Spokane Washington said that he won’t dismiss a lawsuit filed against two Washington state psychologist who helped design interrogation techniques for the CIA’s war on terror. The decision marks an important set forward in a case surrounding the treatment of terror suspects and is likely to include previously undisclosed information on how the government treats terrorist suspects.

The ACLU sued the two psychologists last year on behalf of three former CIA prisoners, accusing them of endorsing and teaching torture tactics under the guide of science. The suit alleges that the two have no expertise on al-Qaida and devised the interrogation program from experiments conducted on dogs in the 1960’s, and a psychological theory called “learned helplessness”

“The defendants committed war crimes” said Dror Ladin, an attorney for the ACLU “This case is about the treatment of prisoners.”

The attorney for the defendants claims that they simply designed a program, but were not involved in carrying it out, noting that “the government controlled every facet of the decision making process” adding that the defendants “did not decide who was dealt with or how”.

The interrogation program has since been discontinued and widely discredited.

Judge Justin Quackenbush said that he would allow the suit to move forward, which alleges the two defendants aided and abetted the enhanced interrogation program.

The three prisoners who are the subject of the suit were alleged to have been interrogated at a CIA-run prisons, including one in Afghanistan known as the “Salt Pit”, where prisoners are subjected to isolation, darkness, and extreme cold water. One was later found dead from hypothermia.

Interrogation practices by the CIA have long been shrouded in secrecy, having just recently become the subject of law suits, as well as political and citizen-level outrage. Reports showing sleep deprivation, waterboarding, and beatings, all of which went far beyond the legal limits without yielding lifesaving intelligence.

The ACLU claims that not only did the psychologists have a hand in developing the methods of interrogation, but also took part in torture sessions to test the program. Interrogation methods included slamming prisoners into walls, stuffing them inside coffin-like boxes, exposure to extreme temperatures, loud music, starvation, and various kinds of water torture. The psychologists, who operated a company based in Spokane, were paid $81 million dollars over several years for the program’s development.

Kids Can Sue Over Climate Change Negligence, Says Oregon Judge
posted in: Current Affairs

In a recent ruling by an Oregon Judge, a group of youngsters won a major battle in their continuing effort to sue the federal government over climate change. The Judge, Thomas Coffin, a Federal District Court Magistrate Judge, ruled against the federal government’s motion to dismiss the case, finding in favor of the 21 young plaintiffs who brought the suit.

The lawsuit is just one of the many efforts led by the Oregon-based nonprofit Our Children’s Trust, who filed similar petitions and lawsuits in every state in the country. Complaints allege that the United States Government has known for half a century that greenhouse gases and use of fossil fuels cause global warming and climate change, yet have done nothing about it.

“If the allegations in the complaint are to be believed, the failure to regulate the emissions has resulted in a danger of constitutional proportions to the public health” said the Judge, calling the lawsuit “unprecedented”.

The suit is based on the doctrine of public trust, similar to that of the Clean Water Act, under which governments must protect commonly held elements, including waterways and seashores for public use. This lawsuit argues that such protections should extend to the climate and atmosphere as well.

“This will be the trial of the century that will determine if we have a right to a livable future, or if corporate power will continue to deny our rights for the sake of their own wealth,” said Kelsey Juliana, lead plaintiff in the suit.

Three fossil fuel industry trade associations named as defendants in the suit have called the case a “direct substantial threat to their business.”

Antioch Mayor Helps Save Man’s Life After Car Crash
posted in: Auto Accidents

Wade Harper, Mayor of Antioch, a city in the San Francisco Bay Area, is being praised as a hero after his efforts earlier this month helped save a man suffering from serious injuries related to a high-speed crash with a work van on California’s Highway 4.

Harper, passing by the wreck after a city council meeting, noticed the smoking car and some slight motion from inside the vehicle and stepped into action, calling first responders and staying at the scene to comfort the man trapped inside the vehicle until help arrived.

“Lori Ogorchock was already on the phone with dispatch. I told her to tell them we need code 3 ambulances and the guy is pinned in the car. I said we need a fire extinguisher which someone from the community brought to the scene. Firefighters and police did much more than I did. I just assisted and I waited to talk the victim through it who was in and out of consciousness….As someone in law enforcement for 24 years, I stepped into action and tried to assist where I could until others arrived,” said Harper.

The driver, who Harper helped keep conscious until first responders arrived, was driving his pickup truck at a high rate of speed when he side-swiped a city council woman’s car, sending him into the rear of a construction truck occupied by two men. The driver hit the construction truck so hard that the front end of his pickup truck became wedged into the back of the vehicle.

“My first thought was…call an ambulance, make sure they’re breathing, make sure they’re okay. That just kicked in right away” said Harper. Turns out his instincts were correct, and his actions helped save both the driver and the two men in the construction truck, who survived and were taken to the hospital for additional treatment.

Mayor Harper’s actions help remind us of the value and importance of being a Good Samaritan, and lending a hand to members of our community in need. Step in and take action. We can all make a difference, and sometimes even save a life.

Fisher-Price Recalls More Than 30,000 Cradle Swings Due To Fall Hazard
posted in: Recalls

Fisher-Price announced a recall of approximately 34,000 cradle swings spanning three separate models earlier this month due to a potential falling hazard. Models of the CHM84 Soothing Savanna Cradle ‘n Swing, CMR40 Sweet Surroundings Cradle ‘n Swing, and the CMR43 Sweet Surroundings Butter Friends Cradle ‘n Swing are all subject to the recall. Owners are encouraged to review their swing’s product number found on the seat under the pad to determine whether their swing is affected.

The Cradle n’ Swings came equipped with two different swinging motions – rocking side-to-side, or swinging head-to-toe, and six different speeds from low to high. Swings were manufactured in Mexico and sold at stores nationwide including Buy Buy Baby, Target, Amazon, as well as other retail storefronts and websites from about November 2015 to March 2016 for approximately $170.

Fisher-Price issued the recall shortly after receiving reports of two models experiencing issues with the seat peg coming dislodged from the seat, causing the seat to fall. No injuries have been reported.

Consumers should discontinue use of the swings immediately and contact Fisher-Price for revised assembly instructions. You can reach Fisher-Price at 1-800-432-5437 between the hours of 9am to 6pm or online at and clicking on “Recalls & Safety Alerts” for more information. If your child has been injured due to this defect, consult with a qualified attorney to understand your rights.

For updates on the recall please visit the CPSC recall site.

Powers Faces Loss of Funding, Steep Fines, as Time Runs Out to Fix Sewage Situation
posted in: Current Affairs

The city of Powers, Oregon is running out of time to fix their sewage situation. Powers, which has been instructed that they have 60 days from March 28th to make “adequate progress” towards the US Department of Agriculture approved sewage treatment plan, faces potential “de-obligation” of millions of federal dollars marked for the project, forfeiting the federal money if no progress is made.

The Powers City Council met earlier this month to discuss the issue, but was unable to reach a decision on whether to choose a grinder-based wastewater treatment system, unpopular with the council and many residents, or give up the money entirely.

Powers faces a problem familiar to many Oregon towns, where infiltration and inflow water (I&I) that leaks into the system, most often in the form of rain, pushes sewage treatment plants past their capacity. The proposed grinder system, which was determined to be the most cost-effective solution to I&I for Powers, has proven to be controversial, with many residents opposed to installation of grinders on their property. Others voiced their concern of the inevitable rate increase experienced as the city is forced to repay the federal loans allocated for the project. In fact, the grinder proposal was so unpopular that it caused three pro-grinder councilors to be removed from office, replacing them with councilors opposed to the grinder proposal.

The city, instead of focusing on the grinder proposal, has turned its attention towards rehabilitation of the existing, aging gravity-based system. Harry Pierson, a former public works director, was hired by the city to take over the plant, and said that he would be able to turn the plant around to meet the city’s goals. But not everyone is convinced. Engineers note that although the plant may be able to make the proposed efficiency numbers in the winter, there would be no way it could do so in the summer months.

So what’s next for the City of Powers? City Councilor Jim Adamek said that councilors need to meet with the USDA and DEQ soon, noting that time was running out to take action after receiving a letter to the City from the USDA which read: “Absent a decision or mutually agreed upon alternative approach between USDA, ODEQ, and the City of Powers in the next 60 days, Rural Development may issue a formal notice of intent to de-obligate funds unilaterally”

Although measures are being taken to ensure the continued functioning of the City’s current sewage treatment system, and efforts are being made to begin compliance with the USDA’s requirements, it has yet to be seen whether Powers will be able to retain the federal funds, or lose them to noncompliance.

Motorists Sue Oregon State, Contractor, Over Crash-Prone Highway Flyover Ramp
posted in: Safe driving

Fifteen motorists are suing the State of Oregon and a State contractor over a crash-prone highway ramp in Tigard blamed for a number of wrecks in 2014. The suit filed earlier this week alleges negligent design and construction of the ramp connecting Interstate 5 to Oregon 217 and seeks $2.03 million in damages from both the Oregon Department of Transportation and its contractor, Kiewit Corp., a construction services company based out of Nebraska.

Between the years of 2008 and 2012, there were 37 serious crashes that occurred on the highway ramp. With a series of crashes over of a number of weeks in early 2014, the dangerous conditions of the ramp were brought back into the public eye.

The suit alleges that a metal joint embedded in the ramp came out of alignment, causing uneven surfaces dangerous to passing vehicles. Metal joints are common in ramp construction, which allow bridges, ramps, and roads to expand and contract with changing temperatures.

“The Highway 217 on-ramp was putting people at risk every day. ODOT spends millions of dollars on safety advertising and yet does nothing when a dangerous condition they control stares them in the face. Accident after accident occurred in exactly the same place and ODOT did nothing” said Mark McDougal, a Portland attorney representing the motorists in the suit.

ODOT addressed potential concerns with the expansion joint in May of 2014, and performed work on the joint in 2004 when it attempted to even out the road surface by grinding down previously uneven areas of the joint. Even with these actions and noted concerns, department officials declared the joint within safe specifications, and noted that incidents were likely due to drivers traveling too fast to negotiate the curve.

“This tells us that people have become comfortable going faster than the posted speed limit on that bridge,” said Don Hamilton of the Transportation department, adding “as the road surface deteriorated…soon that road surface wasn’t able to handle those faster speeds.”

Kiewit Corporation, the contractor responsible for construction of the ramp, received a $560,000 bonus for finishing the ramp ahead of schedule in 2001, noting that they stood behind the project. They have not commented on the current allegations.


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