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Plaintiffs, former Starbucks baristas, sued the company claiming it improperly calculated state and federal tax withholding, and as a result, improperly deducted those withholdings from plaintiffs’ paychecks. As a result, plaintiffs claimed they were not paid the full wages they had earned, violating state wage-and-hour laws. After the case was removed to federal court and then remanded back to state court, the trial court ruled on numerous issues. Starbucks moved the trial court to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims. Starbucks petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court for an alternative writ of mandamus, raising questions of whether plaintiffs’ claims were prohibited by the AIA, and whether they were prohibited by the statutory immunity provisions. The trial court issued an alternative writ of mandamus. After the trial court declined to vacate its order, the matter returned to the Supreme Court. To determine whether direct appeal provided Starbucks with an adequate remedy, the Supreme Court would have had to resolve numerous complex issues of both state and federal law, not all of which had been briefed adequately. The Court therefore dismissed the alternative writ of mandamus as improvidently allowed, and remanded the case for further development of the record. View "Fredrickson v. Starbucks Corp." on Justia Law

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Defendant Brian Bement admitted that, on March 13, 2010, he shot and killed Greenspan. Defendant was a drug dealer, and Greenspan was a naturopathic physician who had invested in defendant’s drug dealing operation. The state argued that defendant killed Greenspan after robbing him of $20,000. But defendant maintained that the state had it backwards: Greenspan tried to rob defendant of $20,000, and defendant shot Greenspan in self-defense. To establish Greenspan’s motive for the robbery, defendant argued Greenspan viewed himself as being in significant financial trouble and in desperate need of money. As proof, defendant offered, among other things, 11 emails that Greenspan wrote in the months leading up to his death. The issue this case presented for the Oregon Supreme Court’s review required it to consider when an out-of-court statement reflecting a declarant’s state of mind was hearsay and, if so, when the statement falls within a hearsay exception. During the criminal trial, the court admitted some email statements written by the victim, but excluded others as hearsay. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the excluded email statements were either not hearsay or were hearsay that fell within an exception to the hearsay rule for statements offered to prove the declarant’s state of mind. The Supreme Court concurred with the Court of Appeals and affirmed that court’s judgment. View "Oregon v. Bement" on Justia Law

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In 2009, Seneca Sustainable Energy LLC (Seneca) began construction of a biomass cogeneration facility on property that it owned outside of Eugene, Oregon. In this direct appeal of the Regular Division of the Tax Court, the Department of Revenue argued the Tax Court erred in concluding that it had jurisdiction to consider a challenge brought by Seneca to the department’s determination of the real market value of Seneca’s electric cogeneration facility and the notation of the real market value on the assessment roll for two tax years, 2012-13 and 2013-14. The department also argued that the Tax Court erred in concluding that the department’s determinations of the property’s real market values for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 tax years were incorrect and in setting the values at significantly lower amounts. Finding no reversible error, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed the Tax Court’s rulings. View "Seneca Sustainable Energy, LLC v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law

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A magistrate court granted a taxpayer part of the relief requested. The magistrate accepted the property values that taxpayer requested for the two most recent tax years but did not accept the values that taxpayer requested for the first four tax years. Taxpayer appealed the magistrate’s decision by filing a timely complaint in the regular division of the tax court. The Department of Revenue (the department) did not appeal or seek any affirmative relief from the magistrate’s decision. Instead, the department moved to dismiss the complaint that taxpayer had filed in the tax court. The tax court granted the department’s motion, dismissed taxpayer’s complaint, and entered a judgment that gave effect to the magistrate’s decision. Taxpayer appealed from the tax court’s judgment to the Oregon Supreme Court, and the department has cross-appealed. The primary question presented for the Supreme Court’s review was whether the tax court erred in giving effect to the magistrate’s decision granting taxpayer’s requested relief for the two most recent tax years. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the tax court. View "Work v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Jeff Gist worked as a driver for defendant Driver Resources, LLC. The other two defendants were related companies. In November 2013, plaintiff filed a class-action complaint against defendants, on behalf of himself and other similarly situated drivers. At issue was defendants’ compliance with Oregon’s wage and hour laws. In January 2014, defendants filed a petition to compel arbitration, on the basis of an agreement that plaintiff had signed with one defendant. Plaintiff responded to the petition by arguing that the agreement was unconscionable, and therefore that arbitration should not be compelled. The trial court granted defendants’ petition, requiring plaintiff to proceed to arbitration. Plaintiff made several attempts to obtain appellate review of the trial court’s order compelling arbitration. This case required the Oregon Supreme Court to determine whether the Court of Appeals correctly dismissed plaintiff’s appeal of a judgment dismissing his complaint with prejudice on the grounds that the appeal was barred by the Supreme Court’s decision in Steenson v. Robinson, 385 P2d 738 (1963). That decision set out the common-law rule that a party may not appeal from a voluntarily-requested judgment. The Court concluded the judgment was appealable and remanded the case to the Court of Appeals. View "Gist v. Zoan Management, Inc." on Justia Law

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As police officers converged on a house to execute a search warrant, they encountered defendant Benjamin Madden sitting in a car in the driveway. They seized and handcuffed him, brought him into the house, kept him there while they proceeded with the search, questioned him after the house was secured, and then obtained his consent to a search of the car where they first had encountered him. The police officers’ questioning and search produced evidence that the State sought to use in prosecuting defendant on drug and weapons charges. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that it was the product of a warrantless seizure and an interrogation that were conducted without a reasonable suspicion that he had committed any crime, in violation of Article I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution. The trial court denied the motion, ruling that the conduct of the police was justified under an “officer safety” rationale. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion to suppress. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded the initial seizure and transportation of defendant into the house were justified for officer safety reasons, but that steps that the police took thereafter (continuing defendant’s detention after the house was secured, moving him to a separate room, and questioning him) could not "reasonably be ascribed to the officers’ safety concerns." Because the evidence at issue was the product of that later conduct, defendant’s motion to suppress should have been granted, unless the officers had an independent constitutional justification for continuing the detention. The Court therefore reverse the contrary decisions by the trial court and Court of Appeals, and remanded to the trial court to determine whether the police conduct was justified under an alternative rationale: a reasonable suspicion on the part of the police that defendant had committed a crime. View "Oregon v. Madden" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Dante Farmer was convicted of murder with a firearm. He sought post-conviction relief, arguing that his defense counsel was constitutionally inadequate for, among other things, deciding not to call a defense expert who would have testified that a gun seized from another suspect’s residence was “likely” the murder weapon. The post-conviction court agreed with petitioner and ordered a new trial. After review, the Oregon Supreme Court reversed the contrary decision of the Court of Appeals and affirmed the post-conviction court’s judgment. View "Farmer v. Premo" on Justia Law

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Law enforcement officers seized and searched defendant Catalin Dulfu's computer and duplicated its hard drive. During a search of the duplicated hard drive, a forensic investigator discovered computer files containing visual recordings of sexually explicit conduct involving children. The state charged defendant with crimes based on 15 of the files. Defendant argued on appeal that the trial court erred in calculating his criminal history score under the felony sentencing guidelines. Under the guidelines, prior convictions generally increase a defendant’s criminal history score, unless they arose out of the same criminal episode as the crime for which the defendant is being sentenced. In this case, defendant was convicted of multiple crimes based on child pornography on his computer. Over defendant’s objection, the court increased defendant’s criminal history score after it sentenced him for each of the crimes, until it reached the maximum criminal history score. The Oregon Supreme Court determined a conviction does not count toward a defendant’s criminal history score if, for double jeopardy purposes, it arose out of the same criminal episode as the crime for which the defendant is being sentenced. Therefore, the trial court erred in using defendant's convictions for those crimes to increase his criminal history score as it did. View "Oregon v. Dulfu" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Emily Hodges alleged she was injured when the apartment balcony on which she and others were standing collapsed. Plaintiff alleged she suffered injuries to her spine, feet, right leg and hip, and right shoulder, for which she sought $325,000 in economic damages for past and future medical expenses and impaired earning capacity. She also sought $1,000,000 in noneconomic damages. Defendants Oak Tree Realtors, Inc., trustees of a family trust, and several individuals, deposed plaintiff and sought information about plaintiff’s discussions with her treating medical providers relating to her injuries. Plaintiff’s lawyer instructed her not to answer those questions, asserting the physician-patient privilege and that her answers would disclose communications she had had with her treating doctor. Defendants moved to compel answers to their questions regarding her discussions with treating doctors, contending that plaintiff’s communications with them were not protected by the physician-patient privilege. Accepting defendants’ argument that the communications fell within the exception in OEC 504-1(4)(b), the trial court ordered plaintiff to testify regarding communications with her treating doctor. Plaintiff then petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court for a peremptory writ of mandamus, seeking to have the trial court’s order vacated. The Supreme Court found the limitation in OEC 504-1(4)(b) applied only when the physical examination occurred under the authority provided in ORCP 44 and that, on this record, the limitation on the physician-patient privilege did not apply. Accordingly, the Court granted a peremptory writ of mandamus. View "Hodges v. Oak Tree Realtors, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Kimberli Ransom, the relator and petitioner in this mandamus proceeding, filed a medical negligence action alleging that two radiologists employed by Radiology Specialists of the Northwest (defendant) were negligent in reading her imaging studies when they examined them in 2013. In 2016, during discovery in that underlying action, plaintiff took the depositions of the radiologists. The radiologists testified to the findings that they had made after examining plaintiff’s imaging studies, but, when plaintiff showed the radiologists the studies, they testified that they had no independent memory of reviewing them. When plaintiff then asked the radiologists to tell her what they could now see in those studies, defense counsel instructed the radiologists not to answer. Defense counsel took the position that those questions called for “expert testimony” that was not discoverable under ORCP 36 B. Defense counsel also argued that those questions impermissibly invaded the attorney client privilege set out in OEC 503. Plaintiff filed a motion to compel discovery and sought an order allowing her to ask the radiologists about their current “knowledge and ability to read and interpret” the imaging studies. The trial court denied plaintiff’s motion, and she petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus requiring the trial court to grant her motion, or, in the alternative, show cause why it had not done so. The Supreme Court issued the writ; the trial court declined to change its ruling. The Supreme Court concluded the questions that plaintiff asked the radiologists about what they saw in plaintiff’s imaging studies in 2016 were relevant under ORCP 36 B; they were reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence about the radiologists’ treatment of plaintiff in 2013 and what they perceived and knew at that time. The Court also concluded those questions did not call for impermissible “expert testimony” and did not invade the attorney client privilege. View "Ransom v. Radiology Specialists of the Northwest" on Justia Law