Oregon Trial Advocate

Personal Injury Law & Politics

America’s largest tax scam

Posted in You Ought To Know

American companies have found a new way to rid themselves of their corporate tax responsibilities, by purchasing foreign companies and “reincorporating” themselves abroad. These moves certainly hurt the U.S. economy as billions of dollars in taxes are avoided. While U.S. corporate profits have skyrocketed up $93 billion in 2013 to a total of $2.1 trillion, corporate tax payments were down $15 billion from the year before. Read more about this scandal in the August 27th, 2014 issue of Rolling Stone, here

Sex Abuse of Inmates: Silent Epidemic

Posted in Uncategorized

Allegations of first-degree custodial sexual misconduct against a Washington County jail employee are only the latest in a long series of cases involving the sex abuse of inmates by jail personnel.  Jill Curry, a civilian employee at the jail, faces felony charges, based on her arrest of July 16, 2014; the nature of the charge indicates that the alleged victim was in custody.

Prison Legal News reported in April of 2014 that Eddie Miller, 60, was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct and received only two years probation in a case where he forced a 34-year-old female prisoner to perform oral sex on him.  After Miller was placed on leave, a former coworker filed suit against Multnomah County, alleging that she had made previous complaints of sexual harassment against Miller, and that she had on numerous occasions told her supervisor about Miller’s conduct, but that she had been ignored.  Her lawsuit alleged that when she filed a written sex harassment complaint, her supervisors destroyed it.

An Oregonian article in April 29, 2012, by Les Zaitz described a virtual epidemic of sexual abuse of female inmates by prison employees.  The article reported that “illegal conduct traces to 2002” and the state had during that time paid a total of $1.2 million in compensation to 17 inmates and former inmates.  More remarkably, these sums had been paid “without a word to the public.”  Brian Lathan, a Salem attorney who represented many of the victims, described the situation as “an epidemic.”  The pattern of suppressing information also involves placing victims in segregation, commonly known as “the hole, ” designed “to protect, not punish” the victims.  Further, Oregon State Police detectives rattled and intimidated the victims by reading them Miranda rights, as if it was their conduct which was at issue.

John Kroger, who was Oregon’s Attorney General at the time, “rejected repeated requests for an interview” by the Oregonian.

However, the problem stretches beyond Oregon. Prisons and jails across the country have had trouble with their employees in recent years. John Bernard Bland Jr., a former guard at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, engaged in oral sex with an inmate in exchange for preference in cell assignment. He pled guilty on one count of carnal knowledge of an inmate after two other counts were dropped. In Hernando County, Florida Dr. James A. Yelton, a psychologist employed by the Corrections Corporation of America, routinely abused four female inmates over the course of nearly a year. Yelton asked the women to expose themselves as well as give him a kiss or a lap dance. He also stated he was willing to exchange medication for sex. Once he even pinned a woman against a wall and molested her. When the women came forward about their abuse, Yelton only received a few restrictions on his medical license. Sadly, these are but a few examples of the abuses occurring throughout the nation.

The sexual abuse of an inmate has recently been upgraded to a felony by the Oregon state legislature.  The great evil of the abuse is the imbalance of power between the prison employees and the inmates.  Prison culture discourages “snitching,” even when the report is of official misconduct.  Prisoners are largely at the mercy of employees because employees can report any manner of misconduct against an inmate, and their word is routinely accepted over the word of an inmate.

Prison sex is also a security threat, because such elicit relations often lead to the smuggling of drugs or weapons by prison employees, whose conduct makes them vulnerable to blackmail.

 

Update (8/20/14): A second Washington County jail worker has been charged with committing sexual misconduct with an inmate. Brett Robinson, 32, turned herself in after a grand jury indicted her on 6 felony counts of first-degree sexual misconduct and 6 misdemeanor counts of first-degree official misconduct. The arrest comes just months after Jill Curry was arrested and similarly charged for having sex with an inmate. The two women are charged with having sexual relations with the same inmate.

I was Injured by Farm Equipment, Can I Bring a Claim Against the Equipment Manufacturer?

Posted in You Ought To Know

Zeferino Vasquez will never walk again. In 2010 he was working at OR/PAC Feed and Forage when suddenly he was pinned against a hay bale slicer after entering the machine to remove a jam. His mid-torso was crushed to within a couple of inches and he is now paralyzed from the waist down. Vasquez, working with attorney Lourdes Sánchez and our team at Kafoury & McDougal, filed a lawsuit against Double Press Inc., the manufacturer of the machine. Three years after the injury our firm brought the case to trial and a jury awarded him $6.2 million on an 11 to 1 decision.

However, Mr. Vasquez’s situation is hardly a new one. In fact around 120,000 farm workers are injured each year according to The Farm Injury Resource Center. No matter their economic or immigration status all workers have the right to a fair and safe work place in the United States and when they are injured by unreasonably dangerous and unsafe equipment they deserve to be compensated.

Oftentimes, injuries occur when agricultural equipment and vehicles are poorly designed. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to create a product that not only does its job, but, as obvious as it sounds, is also safe to use. However, many manufacturers create machines that are extremely dangerous and fail to adequately secure the safety of their operators. The slicer that paralyzed Vasquez is just such a machine. There was only an inch and a half of clearance for the crossbar the crushed him against the machine’s steel frame. During the trial, even Double Press’s own engineer agreed that the machine could have been designed to stop 18 inches from the crush point. Double Press knew that their slicer was injuring workers and yet, as we proved at trail, did nothing to change their machine’s design, despite numerous instances of serious injury. As Vasquez was to find out, the slicer was unsafe and Double Press was accountable. A study by the Ohio Commission on the Prevention of Injury showed that nearly a quarter of the more than 2,000 agricultural injuries in Ohio each year were machine-related. Do the math. Nationwide we’re talking hundreds of thousands of agricultural workers needlessly injured by poorly designed equipment.

Besides hay bale slicers, there are endless ways to be seriously injured doing farm work. Tractors in particular are incredibly dangerous, causing nearly 250 deaths, or more than one third of all farm fatalities, each year, according to the National Tractor Safety Initiative. Grain augers, and skid steer loaders along with corn pickers, combines and brush hog mowers are also responsible for severe injuries and deaths on many farms across the country. Farmers and their workers should always strive for a safe work environment, but if you are injured it is important to know that the machine manufacturers may be responsible. If you or someone you know has been injured in a farm accident give us a call at (503) 224-2647, we’d love to hear your story. Regardless of your financial status, if you are an injured farm worker you deserve justice.

Teacher at Liberty High School in Hillsboro Faces Sex Crime Charges

Posted in Sexual Abuse

Gregg Martin Jensen, a teacher at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, Oregon, was charged on May 5, 2014, with using a child in display of sexually explicit conduct, and second degree sex abuse.  Jensen was already facing charges of sexual abuse and encouraging child sex abuse.

The question of civil liability arises whenever a predator emerges from an institution which has been entrusted with the welfare and responsibility of others.  Here, the responsibility of the school district and school officials will depend upon the specific circumstances.

We have seen horrific sex abuse scandals involving such trusted institutions as the Boy Scouts of America, the Catholic Church, and Penn State University.  In all these cases, high officials were shown to have concealed evidence of the sexual abuse of children.  In such cases, the liability of the institutions is clear.

In Oregon, the appeals courts have created a second source of potential liability for victims.  If the criminal conduct of the predator arises out of acts which are within the scope of the predator’s employment, or if acts within the scope of employment result in the sexual abuse, then the institution may be found liable even in the absence of institutional negligence.  So, for instance, in Royshekka Herring v. AMR, a case that our firm, Kafoury & McDougal, of Portland, Oregon,  handled, two judges ruled that liability could be based on the fact that an ambulance attendant, Lannie Haszard, relied upon trust that those suffering from accident or injury extended to him because of his status, and that his role also allowed him the opportunity to place his hands on female patients in a manner that would not be extended to a stranger.  Because of the position of trust that he held and the intimacy of the contact he was expected to have with female patients, the judges ruled that a jury could properly find that his conduct was within the scope of his employment, so as to subject AMR to liability for his actions.

In Ms. Herring’s case, the evidence of negligence against AMR was so strong that our firm chose not to submit the scope of employment issue to the jury, and the jury found negligence, resulting in an award of $3.25 million.

In Gmeinder and Vance v. MCMC, jurors found liability against the hospital for the conduct of an anesthesiologist, Dr. Frederick Field, who sexually abused women during surgery.  Again, the court ruled that the access to the women allowed by the anesthesiologist’s role supported submitting the case to the jury, which found the hospital liable not only for negligence, but also found the doctor’s conduct to be sufficiently linked to his status that liability of the hospital was supported independent of the negligence claim.

Our firm presently represents six women who claim they were sexually abused at Emanuel Hospital by nurse Jeffrey McAllister.  As in earlier cases, there is considerable evidence of negligence on the part of hospital officials, and we have claimed an additional basis of liability, arguing that the nurse’s sexually abusive conduct arose out of acts that were within the scope of his employment.

New lawsuits filed against Legacy Emanuel Hospital

Posted in K&M in the News, Sexual Abuse

Kafoury & McDougal has filed a joint lawsuit for 5 more women who have come forward to allege that Legacy Emanuel Hospital neglected to properly investigate claims of sexual abuse by fired Emergency Room nurse Jeffrey McAllister from 2006 until McAllister was fired in April of 2013. McAllister pled not guilty to criminal charges and awaits trial September 15th. Legacy Emanuel’s Emergency Room manager Edward Yoder and Legacy Emanuel’s parent company, legacy Health, were listed as defendants in the suit filed this week in Multnomah County.

The Oregonian’s Maxine Bernstein’s article can be found here

Information on the first lawsuit filed by Kafoury & McDougal can be found here

PlayDate PDX Doctors Expose Small Children and Their Parents to Injuries

Posted in You Ought To Know

If you have toddlers or young kids, you may well have heard of PlayDate PDX.  A couple of doctors started PlayDate PDX and actively market this play place for kids as being a healthy alternative to other indoor play areas in town.  They point out that their menu is not like the other play places that have greasy and gluttonous menu options.  They did quite a good job at marketing themselves.  They even offer coffee, beer and wine for the parents as they are watching their kids from outside the play area.

Natalie and I have toddlers who love to go to PlayDate PDX.  Unfortunately, we are now very concerned about the safety of this establishment.  In recent months, PlayDate PDX and their insurer have been informed of at least three accidents that resulted in mothers of children getting injured on the slide.  PlayDate PDX has done nothing to fix the slide.

Another mother of twins who was recently at PlayDate PDX witnessed at least four different children crying when they became airborne on the slide and bumped against the slide on the way down.  Each of these four children had to be carried out by their mothers after crying.  These four incidents happened within one hour.

Here’s a picture of the warning that PlayDatePDX posted.

The sign is ridiculous.  The employees and owners of PlayDatePDX know that the slide is way too steep and that toddlers and adults cannot defeat gravity.  These slides are even more dangerous for adults, as they do not possess the resiliency that small children do and one good slam to the tailbone, for example, can be devastating.  We are currently investigating several claims against PlayDatePDX.  If you were injured by one of their slides, please contact us.

As an aside, it should be noted that almost every other place that we take our toddlers to has someone stationed at the door to make sure that toddlers cannot get outside without being with their parents.  At PlayDate PDX, there is nobody by the door.  A small child could walk out, or be absconded with.  You might say, “Well, at a place like that, shouldn’t you keep an eye on your child?”  Remember, the place is designed for the parents to sit outside of the play area and the play area is designed so the children will quite often not be visible to the parents.

Here’s a link to a Youtube video containing yet another person complaining about the slide, along with a link to a KATU news story investigating the safety of the slides at PlayDate PDX.

News story:  http://www.katu.com/news/local/Kiddie-slide-fail-203696751.html

Individual’s YouTube Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwBs2kjyi5Q

UPDATE:

Kafoury & McDougal filed a lawsuit on behalf of more than a dozen women and children who were hurt at the bottom of the PlayDate PDX slide, click here to see the recent news coverage.

Update on Nurse McAllister: Kafoury & McDougal Files First Lawsuit against Legacy Emanuel Hospital

Posted in Sexual Abuse

Greg Kafoury, Jason Kafoury, and Mark McDougal have filed the first of what may be many lawsuits against Legacy Emanuel Hospital for allowing nurse Jeffrey McAllister to sexually abuse and even rape emergency room patients.  We have now learned in addition to the four women whose accusations have led to indictments of McAllister, a new wave of indictments is likely in the next few weeks.  It was apparently McAllister’s practice to target women who had prior drug problems, especially if they were poor or even homeless.  He would give them powerful narcotics under the guise of providing treatment, then molest them when they were too helpless to resist.

A central question in this litigation will be how McAllister was somehow able to prey on helpless women for years without being detected.  His employment file at Emanuel shows that an accusation of sexual abuse was made against him in 2006.  We now know of accusations against McAllister made by patients in September, 2012; October, 2012; January, 2013; and February, 2013.  Nonetheless, McAllister somehow stayed on the job where he had access to narcotics and vulnerable women until April of this year.

Portland Police also have much to account for, since they were told details of McAllister’s conduct on January 17, 2013, but failed to make any serious effort to investigate the claims until April.

The pattern we see with Emanuel Hospital is all to reminiscent of the horrific cover-ups of sexual predators by the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, and Penn State University.  Locally, we have seen the same pattern in cases that our law firm has handled against the ambulance company American Medical Response and against The Dalles Hospital, Mid-Columbia Medical Center.  We took one case to trial against AMR, which resulted in a total award of $3.85 million.  That award was just upheld when the Oregon Supreme Court refused to review the Court of Appeals opinion upholding our verdict.  We settled five AMR cases, and presently represent nine other women in cases awaiting trial or on appeal.

In The Dalles, we are set for trial on October 1 of this year with three women who were molested by anesthesiologist Frederick Field while the women were having surgery at MCMC.

We encourage any victims of McAllister, or any persons who have knowledge of his conduct, or of the hospital’s response to allegations against McAllister to call us at 503-224-2647, or learn more about our Portland sexual abuse attorneys and reach through our website.

UPDATE: New victim comes forward in the case, click here to read more

The Oregonian’s Maxine Bernstein’s article on the civil suit can be found here

 

Oregon Supreme Court Denies Ambulance Company’s Attempt to Escape Liability for Abuse of a Vulnerable Person

Posted in Judicial Decisions & Your Rights, Jury Verdicts, Sexual Abuse

 

On July 25, 2013, the Oregon Supreme Court denied review of the Court of Appeals decision in Royshekka Herring v. American Medical Response Northwest, Inc., a case handled at the trial and appellate level by our firm, Kafoury & McDougal.

On December 8, 2007, Royshekka Herring was transported by an AMR Northwest ambulance.  She awakened to find EMT Lannie Haszard’s hand in her pants.  She was semi-conscious, unable to move or call for help.  Once at the hospital, Royshekka Herring regained her strength.  She yelled that she did not want the EMT to come back into her room because he had sexually assaulted her.  Her allegation was met by a nurse at Emanuel hospital telling her to calm down, and threatening to call security.  Royshekka nevertheless jumped up on her bed and began screaming until the EMT left the room.

Haszard was ultimately arrested due to Royshekka Herring’s complaint to the police.  Although AMR Northwest knew of other allegations of sexual misconduct against female patients of Lannie Haszard, AMR Northwest kept that information from the police when the police were investigating Royshekka Herring’s complaint.  After Lannie Haszard was arrested, a number of women came forward.  Lannie Haszard was eventually convicted of sexually assaulting seven women.

During litigation, our firm requested AMR Northwest to provide the names of all women that Lannie Haszard had transported in the prior five years.  The trial court ordered AMR Northwest to produce the names.  AMR Northwest fought against the disclosure, but lost before the Oregon Supreme Court.  Once our firm got the names, we learned that of the 120 women we were able to reach[1], one out of six complained that Lannie Haszard had engaged in inappropriate sexual misconduct.

A Multnomah County jury heard Herring’s evidence and was asked to decide whether or not AMR Northwest had violated the Vulnerable Person Abuse Act.  The jury was given two specific questions on its verdict form:

Was plaintiff incapacitated at the time of the sexual contact?

Did AMR Northwest, Inc. permit Lannie Haszard to engage in vulnerable person abuse by knowingly acting or failing to act under circumstances in which a reasonable person should have known of the sexual (physical) abuse?

The jury answered yes to both questions.

AMR Northwest appealed the jury’s verdict[2] to the Oregon Court of Appeals, arguing that even though Royshekka Herring was semi-conscious, she was not incapacitated because the term “incapacitated” requires a long-term physical or mental impairment.  AMR Northwest went so far as to argue that one had to be incapacitated long enough that a court would be able to declare that a guardianship or conservatorship was required.  The Oregon Court of Appeals held that one only has to be incapacitated at the time they are being subjected to the sexual abuse to be protected under Oregon’s Vulnerable Person Abuse Act.  AMR Northwest filed for the Oregon Supreme Court to review and overturn the Oregon Court of Appeals decision.  The Oregon Supreme Court has now denied AMR Northwest’s petition.


[1] There were a variety of reasons why we could not reach all 500 women whose names we received.  On average, people move one time every seven years.  Additionally, some of the people would have been elderly or minors, and we did not have access to their Social Security information.

[2] The total judgment including amounts awarded on a negligence claim and statutory attorney fees awarded on the vulnerable person abuse claim was:  negligence, $1.75 million; vulnerable person abuse, $500,000 trebled to $1.5 million by statute; and attorney fees of $600,000; altogether totaling $3.85 million.

Nurse Jeffrey Neyle McAllister’s Arrest Raises Serious Questions

Posted in Sexual Abuse

At a time when Mid-Columbia Medical Center is already under intense scrutiny due to The Dalles City Police Department testifying that hospital officials provided false and misleading information to them in the investigation of anesthesiologist Frederick Field, yet another potential embarrassment for Mid-Columbia Medical Center has arisen (Field recently pleaded guilty to sexually abusing 12 women).  Jeffrey Neyle McAllister was arrested Wednesday, July 10, 2013, and charged with rape, sodomy, and sexual abuse of at least 3 women who were at the emergency room where he was employed as a registered nurse.  The police have not yet revealed any locations other than Legacy Emanuel Hospital ER, where such sexual abuse took place.

However, the press release from law enforcement authorities states that “McAllister also has work history as a nurse at St. Vincent Hospital in Portland and the Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles, Oregon.  McAllister has been placed on administrative leave by those employers.”

Over the next few days, answers to some interesting questions may be forthcoming.  Was he placed on administrative leave by Mid-Columbia Medical Center or St. Vincent Hospital due to allegations of sexual misconduct against him?  What background check on Mr. McAllister did MCMC, Legacy, and Providence do before they hired him? According to Max Bernstein of the Oregonian, Jeffrey McAllister was fired over allegations of sex abuse back in April of this year but he continued to work at MCMC and Providence. Why wasn’t Mr. McAllister suspended from all facilities after he was terminated at Legacy?

This firm currently has seven cases pending against Mid-Columbia Medical Center for its deliberate failure to investigate complaints against Dr. Field while continuing to allow him to administer anesthesia to female patients.  We just learned that Jeffrey Neyle McAllister is the older brother of Dr. Marc McAllister, who is on staff as a urologist at Mid-Columbia Medical Center.  It must be remembered that Dr. Marc McAllister was one of the doctors at the Mid-Columbia Medical Center who failed to adequately document or investigate his patient’s complaint back in February, 2011 that Dr. Field had placed her hand on Field’s penis during a surgery.  Questions will need to be addressed about what Marc knew of his brother’s actions and when Marc knew it.

If you have any information regarding this ongoing investigation of Jeffrey Neyle McAllister please contact our firm by calling 503-224-2647.

UPDATE: In today’s Oregonian, Max Bernstein reports that Legacy learned back in September of 2012 that Jeffrey McAllister had sexually abused a patient and the nursing staff and a supervisor “blew off the complaints” and “basically called ‘the woman’ a liar.” It will be interesting to see what documentation exists of this complaint and what steps, if any, Legacy took to investigate the complaint. Stay tuned for more updates.

Oregon Court of Appeals Upholds $1.5 Million Verdict in Herring v. AMR

Posted in Jury Verdicts, K&M in the News, Sexual Abuse

See The Oregonian’s coverage of the trial at the following links:

http://www.kafourymcdougal.com/headline-victories/sex-abuse/

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/09/jury_awards_victim_of_amr_para.html

On September 9, 2009, a Multnomah County jury rendered the following verdict:

(Excerpt of actual verdict form.)

 

AMR Northwest challenged the jury’s finding on appeal, arguing that Royshekka Herring, who was being transported by AMR Northwest, was not a vulnerable person because she was only temporarily incapacitated.  AMR Northwest argued that you had to be incapacitated for days in order to be entitled to a remedy under the Vulnerable Person Abuse Act.

The Court of Appeals upheld the jury’s verdict, finding that nothing in the Vulnerable Person Abuse Act requires the duration of incapacitation to exceed the period during which the abuse occurs.

AMR Northwest also challenged the tripling of the jury’s verdict from $500,000 to $1,500,000 on the vulnerable person abuse claim as provided by statute.  AMR Northwest argued that tripling the jury’s verdict as required by statute violated the Constitution.  The Court of Appeals held that AMR Northwest had notice that abusing vulnerable persons would result in a tripled award.  The Court of Appeals further restated the trial court’s finding:

The trial court found:  “It was reasonable for this jury to conclude that [defendant] ‘permitted’ Lannie Haszard to abuse plaintiff by negligently failing to prevent the abuse.  Clearly, there was a great deal of evidence at trial that [defendant] knew of other instances of alleged abuse committed by Mr. Haszard.”

The Court of Appeals also pointed out that AMR Northwest had “stipulated to the fact that, of the 108 women who had been transported by Haszard, 18 had been subjected to sexually inappropriate conduct.”

Full text of the Court of Appeals opinion available here: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A144168.pdf.

UPDATE: To read Kimberly Atkins story on the case for LawyersUSA on our website,  click here