Oregon Trial Advocate

Personal Injury Law & Politics

Family Members Suing Family Members: The Triumph of Insurance Lobbying Efforts.

Posted in Political Corner, You Ought To Know

Every once in a while you will see a case in the news that talks about one family member suing another family member.  Recently, there was the case of the aunt who sued her nephew for accidentally injuring her when he exuberantly greeted her at his birthday party.  The internet reaction was extremely harsh on the aunt.  But there was something that most people wouldn’t consider.

Let’s suppose that the parents of the child feel responsible that the child acts out, they’ve told him over and over not to grab people, jerk people, or jump on people.  Further, the family feels terrible that their son has injured someone.  But wait, the family has homeowner’s insurance that should cover a visitor to their house getting injured.  Family members are among the people who you most want your insurance to cover.  Can the aunt get her medical bills paid?  Well, she should be able to.  But when you make a claim against the insurance company, they know that a jury is going to look askance at an aunt suing her nephew.  So, what do they do?  Deny the claim.

But wait.  The family that bought the insurance wants the insurer to pay for the aunt’s medical bills.  The family may well invite the aunt to sue the son because the insurance company denied coverage.  But shouldn’t there be a different way?  Yes.

In a world that was not dominated by big money insurance, one would actually file the lawsuit against the insurance company that denied the claim–not against the nephew that caused the injury.  For example, in Louisiana, if you get in a car wreck, you do not sue the other driver–you sue the other driver’s insurance company.  This is called a direct action.

However, in almost every other state, we have to sue individuals and not insurance companies.  Why?  Because the insurance company lobbies are so strong that they not only have passed laws that prohibit us from suing the insurance company directly, there are even laws that prohibit attorneys from mentioning during trial that a defendant has insurance.

So the next time you notice a family member suing a family member, realize it is likely because the insurance company has denied a valid claim.

Kafoury & McDougal Become Founders of the American Museum of Tort Law

Posted in You Ought To Know

Ralph Nader’s American Museum of Tort Law opened with dedication ceremonies in Winsted, Connecticut, on September 25 and 26, 2015. Mark McDougal and Greg Kafoury provided considerable financial support to the creation of the museum, and, along with their wives, Natalie McDougal and Judy Kafoury, have been designated as “founders.”

Mark had to miss the ceremonies because he was waiting for the verdict in Cleavenger v. McDermed, et al. so Jason Kafoury attended in his place.  (Mark’s sense of loss from having to miss out on the festivities was much alleviated by the marvelous verdict of $755,000 plus attorney fees delivered by the federal jury.  The settlement offer had been $20,000 inclusive of attorney fees the night before trial.)

The Museum is the first museum of law to be opened in the United States, and perhaps in the world.  The displays and narratives are in response to the insurance-funded effort of the last several decades to denigrate trial lawyers and the role of juries in holding wrongdoers, large corporations, and government agencies accountable for harms they have wrongfully inflicted on people.

At Mr. Nader’s invitation, Jason spoke to the founders and dignitaries at the Friday night dinner, and Greg spoke at the dedication ceremony the next day.

Below are photographs of the museum, Greg, Judy, Jason and Ralph Nader, a shot with rock singer Patti Smith, along with links to a couple articles describing the opening of the museum.

Click here for the NY Times article and here for a New Yorker article.


JK, GK, Judy and RN In Front JK, GK, Zawisky and Patti Smith Museum Full Front Shot


Sexual Abuse Charges Brought against Teachers at West Linn High School, Tualatin High School, and a Gresham Wrestling Coach.

Posted in Sexual Abuse, You Ought To Know

Predatory sexual criminal allegations have been brought against two male high school teachers, each accused of sexually abusing students.

At West Linn High School, Jonathan Michael Peachey, a teacher of English and Spanish, was arrested in Lake Oswego on September 29, 2015, on suspicion of third-degree sex abuse and furnishing alcohol to a minor.  In addition to his teaching duties, he was an adviser to the Ski Club and a Link Crew, a group of upper classmen interested in leadership.  Lake Oswego police said they were “aware of two victims, but it is possible that there could be more.”

The use of alcohol is frequently noted as an aspect of grooming when teachers are accused of sexual abuse of their students.  The classic routine is that the teachers befriend the students, eventually inviting them to come to their home and drink alcohol with them, and the abuse is the result.

In a separate incident, Tualatin High School teacher Johnathan R. Maggiano, 32, was indicted in early September, 2015, on accusations that he had sexually abused a student.  The investigation was initiated when one of the girl’s family members reported the suspect’s abuse.  The alleged abuse occurred on July 18 after Maggiano contacted the girl through a gambling website.  Police reported that he admitted in text messages to having sexual contact with the girl, while police were monitoring the conversation.

Gresham Police now report that wrestling coach Wyatt Ross DeRemer has been accused by eight boys of sexually abusing them.  DeRemer has worked with hundreds of boys as a wrestling coach in Multnomah and Clackamas counties over the years.  He has both been employed by and volunteered at various clubs and youth organizations, as well.  The investigation began on September 10, 2015, and police report that they expect more boys to contact them.

Our firm has a long and successful history of representing victims of sexual abuse.  In 2009, we took the case of Royshekka Herring v. AMR to trial.  Ms. Herring had been abused in the back of an ambulance, and her determination to bring her abuser to justice led to the man’s arrest and incarceration.  Her abuser, Lannie Haszard, had abused scores of women while transporting them.  In her civil trial against AMR, we obtained a judgment on her behalf of $3.85 million.  In the wake of the trial, we settled five other similar cases, and we have a number of other cases presently on appeal.

In October, 2013, our firm was lead counsel in a case against The Dalles Hospital, in which an anesthesiologist at the hospital had been molesting women during surgeries.  The jury awarded $2.4 million to the three women, and we also settled five similar cases against the hospital.

In 2015, we settled a number of cases against Legacy Emanuel.  A Legacy nurse, Jeffrey McAllister, had for years been molesting women in the emergency room.

We have also represented women on medical sex abuse claims in California and in Missouri.

Insurance Drones Now Come with Four Wings Instead of Khakis and a Cubicle

Posted in Uncategorized, You Ought To Know


WMCH Drone



Earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted clearance to several of the major American insurance agencies, such as Allstate Corp. and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., to develop unmanned aircraft for use in processing insurance claims. The drones have the potential to radically change the way insurance companies conduct investigations.

Instead of sending an agent who can only assess one property at a time and requires a significant amount of travel time, especially in dangerous conditions or during peak hours, the insurance agencies argue several drones could be operated at once, dramatically increasing response time in the wake of an accident or natural disaster. Additionally, the drones’ aerial coverage would potentially provide views of areas that are dangerous or cannot physically be reached by the claims adjuster.

However, several problems, particularly pertaining to privacy rights, remain unaddressed. It is still unclear just what the drone is allowed to capture with its camera. The FAA does state that the drone can only be flown on private property with the permission of the owner. Yet, the reasoning some of the insurance officials use, claiming, for instance, that privacy rights, to a large extent, have already been given away to small planes and helicopters, is somewhat concerning. The insurance companies undoubtedly want to spy on people who make claims. Insurance companies already secretly videotape claimants, spy on their social network sites, and call their friends to dig up dirt on them—even though it very rarely produces useful information. We believe regulations should be enacted prohibiting insurance companies from using drones to videotape the insurees and claimants on private property without their consent. The regulations should further require that insurance companies make any videos or data gathered available to any claimant. While it is unlikely that drones will replace humans anytime soon, don’t be surprised if you see them zipping around taking photos with a large State Farm or Geico logo on the side. And if you do, call your lawyer!

Is Your Loved One Safe? Elder Abuse is on the Rise

Posted in Sexual Abuse, Uncategorized, You Ought To Know

In November of 2013, Elmo and his wife, Meliitta, approached their neighbors, Sandra Bittler and her husband Michael Leland, about purchasing a 2 acre lot that bordered their two properties. Elmo, age 86, was delighted by the idea that the land his sons had made their wilderness playground could brighten the days of another set of children. However, he was not expecting to be swindled by his neighbors. Without an independent broker to ensure a fair price, the Marquettes sold the lot for a mere $22,000, a fraction of the actual value of the land. The couple’s plight became not only a headline, but also a clear case of one of the major dangers facing the elderly, financial abuse.*

Elder abuse is an all too real problem for many. As a recent Reuters article, plainly entitled “Elder abuse may be more common than people think,” describes, today’s aging population is increasingly in danger. The Reuters report indicates that 1 in 10 lucid older adults have experienced abuse in North and South America, with the numbers rising to over 50% for those with dementia.

Elder abuse can range from psychological, sexual and physical abuse to financial abuse. Such abuse towards the elderly can cause them to suffer psychological disorders as well as physical illness and premature mortality. The increased medical costs, caused by the elder abuse places a heavy burden on our healthcare system. The gradual aging of the baby boom population in this country exacerbates this problem. According to the Oregonian, as of 2013 about half a million Oregonians are over 65 or disabled, contributing to the rise of financial abuse in Oregon by 33% between 2009 and 2012, however, records concerning physical abuse are not readily available. Unfortunately, a lot of elder abuse goes unreported as many of the elderly fear retaliation. In the case of financial abuse elderly people are often unaware of theft or embezzlement of their money and property.

Fortunately, increased education and knowledge of elder abuse has led to a rise in reporting rates. Additionally, many professions, such as doctors, police officers and the clergy, are required by Oregon law to report elder abuse if they see it. Several new occupations, including attorneys, were added last January when House Bill 2205 took effect, further increasing the chance that abuse will be reported. Some Oregon banks are also distributing kits to its workers in the hope of increasing detection of financial abuse.

What is the best way to prevent such abuse? First, planning ahead while elderly family or friends are lucid, particularly in terms of finances, can help prevent abuse. It is almost impossible to predict if or when you or a loved one may be subject to abuse, but you can limit the damage. However, as most elder abuse is perpetrated by a family member or close friend, maintaining contact with a wide support network of friends and family is important in limiting abuse. These simple steps can offer some security as old age approaches, even if they cannot prevent abuse or rectify the damage after the fact.

With support from their family, friends, a lawyer and a slew of headlines at the Oregonian, in 2014, Elmo and Meliitta got their land back. But the Marquettes were lucky. Without these support networks, they could have very easily succumbed to shame or gotten bogged down in legal and bureaucratic processes, leaving the land in their neighbors’ hands and themselves victims. “How old is too old?” the exasperated Leland asked the Oregonian. The answer is unclear, but as the population ages it is increasingly a question that must be asked.

*Story featured in a series of articles in the Oregonian by Steve Duin

K&M Stands with Judge Charles Zennaché in Terry Bean Case

Posted in Sexual Abuse, Uncategorized

The Oregonian reported Thursday that Judge Charles Zennaché of the Lane County Circuit Court rejected a civil compromise offer proposed by prominent activist Terry Bean who is accused of child sex abuse. Bean and Kiah Loy Lawson face criminal charges after allegedly having sex with an underage boy in 2013. The boy was 15 at the time. By refusing the civil compromise, Judge Zennaché ensured that the criminal charges against Bean will continue to stand.  Accepting the civil solution would have been “bad public policy,” said Judge Zennaché, “… (and bad) from a public safety perspective.”*


Terry Bean was a major contributor to President Barack Obama and is one of the founders of the Human Rights Campaign.


Kafoury & McDougal support the decision by Judge Zennaché. Sex abusers are usually predators, and they routinely leave a vast number of victims in their wake. Our firm has vindicated the rights of numerous victims of sex abuse and has exposed the concealment of predators by such institutions as the ambulance service AMR, Legacy Emanuel and the Dalles Hospital.


Terry Bean should face public accountability and judgment.  Terry Bean should not be allowed to use a civil compromise to cover up for any alleged crimes.




*As quoted in The Oregonian


You Paid for UIM Coverage, Under a New Oregon Law You’re More Likely to Get It

Posted in K&M in the News, You Ought To Know

Did you know you have been paying for underinsured motorist coverage as part of your auto policy? The purpose of underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is to protect you if you are injured by a driver without enough insurance. For example, the minimum auto insurance liability limit required by Oregon law is $25,000. So what if you got hit by someone within minimum liability limits of $25,000? You would think that is exactly when underinsured motorist coverage would protect you.

Currently that is not the case. Let’s say, for instance, you are hit head on by a car going the wrong way down a one way street. Not only is your car badly damaged, but your leg is also broken and you have had to miss a lot of work. You have medical expenses and lost wages. The bad driver’s insurance gives you $25,000, well short of your total damages. Luckily, you have a $25,000 UIM policy.

But guess what? Insurance companies in Oregon have been subtracting the amount of the bad driver’s insurance from the amount of UIM coverage you paid for. The driver’s $25,000 minus your $25,000 leaves you with no underinsurance coverage.

However, in mid-March, the 78th Oregon Legislative Assembly passed Senate Bill 411 (SB 411), designed to protect consumers by prohibiting insurance companies from subtracting the liability limits of the bad drive that hit you. Starting January 1, 2016, SB 411 makes it illegal for your insurance company to subtract the amount of the bad driver’s insurance policy from your UIM coverage. Using the above example, now you can recover the $25,000 from the bad driver and get the $25,000 of UIM coverage you paid, totaling $50,000. Should you and the bad driver’s policies both be $100,000 or $250,000, the available insurance would be $200,000 and $500,000 respectively. Finally, you get the full benefit of the UIM coverage you paid for.

At Kafoury and McDougal, we have routinely secured the owed UM/UIM benefits for those who, unfortunately, find themselves in accidents, such as D.T. While crossing the intersection of Highway 30 and E. Colombia Avenue, D.T. was struck by an uninsured driver who sped around another car to run illegally through the light. Our firm brought a suit against her insurer after they failed to offer even a cent of her UM benefits. In spite of the insurer’s claims that D.T. should have seen the oncoming car and not entered the crosswalk, we received a unanimous decision from a three-member panel of arbitrators against the insurance company. As a result, D.T. was rewarded the full amount of her rather substantial uninsured motorist policy.

Under the new Oregon legislation UM/UIM policies are more useful than ever. However, SB 411 only benefits coverage acquired, or renewed, as of the first of January 2016. We urge Oregon drivers to take advantage of this new legislation and increase their UIM insurance. The State of Oregon has protected consumers by requiring insurance companies to provide the fullest coverage possible under UIM insurance, now it is up to you to take advantage of it.

Latino Construction Worker Fatality Rates Rise While Others Decline

Posted in You Ought To Know

The number of Latino construction workers, as a percentage of the construction work force, has been on the rise over the last 4 years. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in 2010 the number of construction workers that identified themselves as Latino or Hispanic was 24% of the independent construction workforce. By 2014, that number was roughly 27%. Concurrent with this rise in the construction workforce has been a rise in fatality rates for Latino workers, from 23% of construction fatalities in 2010, to 29% in 2013 (2014 statistics are not yet available). What is troubling is that inversely to the rise of Latino worker’s fatality rates, the percentage of non-Latino worker’s fatality rates has dropped significantly. This means that as a percentage of the workforce, the fatality rates have doubled for Latino workers in comparison to the rise of the Latino worker’s population.



According to Jorge Perez, the director of the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association, (HACIA) there are numerous reasons for the increase in Latino workers construction fatalities. The primary reason that Perez points to is a lack of safety awareness by workers and contractors. Lack of safety training, coupled with a lack of available training for construction workers in their native Spanish language, are important factors that can lead to fatal accidents in the workplace, according to Perez.

Who regulates the safety and training standards for construction sites? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). But OSHA appears to be severely undermanned to monitor every construction site. A report from the American Federation or Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) found that OSHA employs nearly 2,000 inspectors who are responsible for 8 million work sites under their jurisdiction. This means that each inspector is responsible for the health and safety standards of about 4,000 worksites.

Furthermore, the penalties that OSHA issues to contractors who fall below the industry standard for safety and training are miniscule. The AFL-CIO report detailed that the average penalty for workplace fatality cases was $6,100 by state OSHA inspectors, and $5,600 by federal OSHA inspectors. In criminal cases, where the penalties rendered include fines and possible prison time for “willful violations” that resulted in worker death, only 84 cases have been prosecuted since 1970, and defendants served only 89 total months in prison.

Our firm, Kafoury and McDougal, with the assistance of co-counsel Lourdes Sanchez, won $6.2 million for an Hispanic agricultural worker, Zeferino Vasquez, for a workplace accident that left him paralyzed. The 21-year-old Vasques was hurt during his shift for OR/PAC Feed and Storage where he made $9.15 an hour. The injury occurred while Vasquez was in operation of a hay bale slicer that was manufactured by Double Press Inc. who was the defendant in the lawsuit.

The jury found that the manufacturer was 60% responsible for Vasquez’s injuries. A lack of safety standards and training, including lack of safety training in Spanish for the mostly Hispanic workforce, was used as evidence against Double Press Inc. Double Press did not keep records of the injuries caused by their equipment and had not even reviewed OSHA regulations concerning their equipment.

After the verdict was rendered, Vasquez’s attorney Greg Kafoury pointed out that many of these types of agricultural accidents against Hispanic workers go undocumented or are not reported.

“These guys don’t have unions,” Kafoury said. “They are incredibly vulnerable. A lot of them have immigration issues, so they really are at the mercy of the machine makers and the employers… If you had this kind of injury pattern with white college kids working summer jobs, this industry would have been cleaned up in a heartbeat.”

UPDATE: Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore touched on the above statistics during the telecast on Tuesday, May 5th 2014. Check out the video of the segment from Comdey Central’s website here

Information for this blog was obtained using www.hispanictrending.net

Read Aimee Green’s article on the Vasquez verdict here



medicalsexabuse.com website launches

Posted in Sexual Abuse, You Ought To Know

Kafoury and McDougal is pleased to announce the launch of our new website medicalsexabuse.com. Our firm has successfully litigated some of the highest profile cases involving sexual abuse within the medical field. During these cases, we have found it can be extremely difficult for victims to come forward and challenge their sexual abusers. We offer this site as a resource for those who have been victimized, and to show that medical sex abuse is a serious, nationwide problem.

In our experience handling these types of cases, sexual predators have abused patients under the guise of a “necessary” medical exam in completely unnecessary situations. Many patients that feel they have been victimized by medical professionals either do not know their rights, are too afraid to come forward, or do not think that they will be believed. Medicalsexabuse.com offers local and national resources for patients in all 50 states who feel they have been victimized, but are unsure how to move forward. Our website lists helplines, trauma centers and counseling options for victims and those close to victims of sexual abuse.

Another resource of our website is a catalogue of doctors and medical professionals who have been charged, prosecuted or had their license suspended or revoked. We intend to give victims hope that coming forward will lead to criminal prosecutions and protect future patients.

Upon researching this topic over the last few years, we have found over a hundred sexual predators who were operating out of medical offices that have been arrested and charged with serious crimes. We hope this website will lead to more victims standing up to their abusers, which will greatly assist law enforcement officers in building their cases against sexual predators in the medical field.

Our site also offers an FAQ and Legal Rights section for people who seek answers to legal questions. We also offer a Contact Us form for people who would like to speak confidentially to any of our lawyers about any incident that happened to themselves, a friend or family member, or to report other instances of abuse that we should add to our online database.

Challenging one’s abuser is the first step towards recovery, and we want people to know that help is not far away.

The Oregon Clinic refuses to order staff to cooperate with sex abuse detectives

Posted in K&M in the News, Sexual Abuse

On March 10, 2015, our firm, Kafoury & McDougal, filed a sex abuse lawsuit against The Oregon Clinic.

In May last year, The Oregon Clinic, one of Oregon’s largest medical providers, was notified by police detectives that there was evidence than an unconscious patient had been sexually abused while sedated for a colonoscopy. Top officials at the clinic were aware that the patient was desperately anxious to learn what had been done to her, and who might have done it. A medical examination days after her procedure showed vaginal bruising and abrasions, both internal and external.

The detectives wanted to interview the members of the medical staff who had been in attendance during and after the procedure. But rather than insisting that their employees assist the police in this investigation, the clinic provided criminal lawyers to all those involved.

The attending physician was Jeffrey Weprin, who initially answered the questions of the investigating detective, primarily centered on the general procedures of the clinic. Attempts by the police to arrange a subsequent interview through his attorney were unsuccessful. Dr. Weprin’s medical staff, Scott Joliffe, Paul Still, and Norah Jensen, refused to be interviewed by the police.

The conduct of The Oregon Clinic in this case is virtually unheard of. Our firm, Kafoury & McDougal, has represented patients who have suffered abuse at the hands of medical providers against doctors, psychologists, medical clinics, ambulance companies, and hospitals throughout Oregon. We have represented medical sex abuse plaintiffs in California, and as far away as Missouri. We have never encountered a situation–nor have we even heard of a situation–where a professional medical organization arranged for its employees to remain silent in the face of an official investigation of predatory sexual abuse.


Aimee Green’s article on the pending lawsuit against The Oregon Clinic

Kafoury & McDougal victorious against AMR ambulance company 

Kafoury & McDougal victorious against Mid-Columbia Medical Center in the Dalles, OR