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Oregon State University agrees to $101,000 payout to end lawsuit

The right to free speech that is protected by the First Amendment is something that many people are willing to fight to preserve. Oregon State University recently agreed to pay out $101,000 to end a lawsuit over newspapers and distribution boxes the university trashed.

A former student brought the lawsuit against the university after it trashed the newspapers and distribution boxes of "The Liberty," a conservative newspaper, in 2009. University officials acknowledged removing those boxes and dumping them at the edge of campus. The boxes of a larger student newspaper, "The Daily Barometer," remained untouched.

Personal injury suit filed in wreck with two drunk drivers

It's a tale of two DUIs, but the lawsuit filed in this drunk driving dispute may surprise you. One Oregon woman is seeking financial compensation after she was struck by a drunk driver in May 2013. The catch: The woman who filed the civil litigation was also apparently drunk at the time of the wreck. That woman's blood alcohol content measured at about 0.11 percent when she collided with the other driver in Southeast Portland. The defendant in the case had a blood alcohol content of 0.19 percent; both values are higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

In addition, the woman's lawsuit also includes a sober driver that was reportedly chasing after the alleged drunk driver that struck her vehicle. The defendant, a 26-year-old man, first struck a vehicle driven by a sober motorist. That driver chose to chase the defendant, causing him to reach speeds of up to 50 mph in a 25 mph zone. The at-fault driver claims that he would not have sped if he had not been chased; an emergency operator even advised the sober driver to leave the matter to police.

Some Portland residents could lose their disability benefits

Disadvantaged people can often use social service agencies to get the help they need. For many Portland residents, help with paying bills and managing their money is vital for their very survival. However, some of these people could be at risk of losing the help they so desperately need.

The federal government is investigating an organization called Safety Net. The agency works as a social security benefits payee. They receive benefit checks for people who are mentally disabled, homeless or have other issues. Safety Net then pays its client's bills and gives the clients the remaining funds. According to the federal government, the agency is being investigated for mismanagement of funds.

Negative reviews can get you sued in Oregon

A business lives and dies by the number of satisfied customers who use their products and services. In pre-Internet days, if a patron loved or hated their shopping experience, they could offer their opinions to their friends, family and neighbors. However, now that online venues such as Yelp and Angie's List exist, a business' reputation can be seen by people from all over the world.

Obviously, this is a good thing if the reviews are positive, but negative reviews can be a death knell for a business. It is no surprise that businesses are keeping a watchful eye on their online reviews. What Portland, Oregon, readers might be surprised to learn is that a company can sue a commenter on an online review forum if the company believes the review is unfair or untrue.

Gaps on offender registry could lead to tragedy

Sexual predators are an obvious danger to society and should be tracked as closely as possible. Most cities and states, such as Portland, Oregon track sexual predators who live in the area. However, not all states are vigilant in maintaining the list or have the same guidelines regarding who must be included on the list. When these discrepancies happen, it can lead to a tragic result. A mother in Douglas County is living this nightmare and wants something to be done to prevent it from happening to another family.

In 2011, a 2-year-old boy was violently assaulted by his mother's companion. The boy died from his injures days later. Unbeknownst to the mother, her boyfriend had been designated a sexual predator; he had been convicted of sex crimes against children previously. The mother had been aware that the man had spent time in jail for a sex-related crime, but believe the man when he stated it revolved around consensual sex with an underage female.

Where one group's rights end and another's begins

America had been dubbed the "Great American Melting Pot" for ages. One of our greatest strengths is the diversity of cultures that exists throughout the country, including here in Portland. However, it would be untruthful not to admit that this diversity can also be used as a wedge.

When conflicts exist, it can sometimes elevate to dangerous levels. But it is important that all cultures be allowed to celebrate their uniqueness without threats of violence since it is our combined diversity that makes us the nation we are.

Attorneys General won't defend same-sex marriage civil litigation

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the Defense of Marriage Act, more states have found themselves in court trying to defend established same-sex marriage bans. For most of these states, the rule is that marriage is between one man and one woman. However, as Portland readers might already know, these rules are being challenged on what seems like a daily basis.

Oregon is in the middle of such a challenge. When the state is required to defend its laws, the Attorney General's office is tapped to go to court on behalf of the state. It is the AG's responsibility to ensure that the state's case is made. However, if an AG does not feel that the case can be made, they have the right to refuse to represent the state.

Gun control ban struck down, federal appeal most likely to follow

The argument for and against the right to bear arms is ongoing and will most likely remain that way for some to come. Both sides are determined to have their way; proponents of gun safety laws want to restrict gun ownership and opponents of gun laws cite the 2nd Amendment as their guide regarding who can or cannot own a gun.

The debate is especially contentious when it concerns concealed carry laws. Oregon readers have undoubtedly heard about cases around the country of persons armed with concealed weapons using them to allegedly defend against attackers. For those who want tougher gun laws, these people are an example for why; more weapons will lead to more violence. However, a California court did not align with that argument and recently struck down a ban that restricts the carrying of concealed weapons.

City of Portland agrees to pay possibly record-setting lawsuit

Citizens have the right to expect their law enforcement officials to keep their promise to serve and protect. However, when this does not happen, when dangerous individuals are allowed to move freely through society, the outcome can be tragic. For a young woman and her child, the system failed and now the city of Portland and Clackamas County have taken financial responsibility.

The city and county have agreed to pay a 23-year-old mother and her 3-year-old daughter $9.3 million in damages. The settlement offer comes on the heels of closing arguments of a lawsuit brought by the woman and child's family. In the lawsuit, the family argued that a 2010 car accident involving the woman and a mentally ill and drug addicted man could have been prevented had the man's probation officer or a police officer who encountered him twice on the day of the accident acted appropriately.

Tigard woman claims Olive Garden caused norovirus, C-Section

When most people venture to restaurants, they do so with the intention of enjoying a delicious meal without the muss and fuss of cooking and cleaning up. However, sometimes a diner might leave a restaurant with more than a satisfied appetite and a doggie bag. If a restaurant lacks proper sanitary practices or has employees working sick, this can be a recipe for disaster.

A woman from Tigard, Oregon, can attest to this. She and her husband has filed a suit against Olive Garden, accusing the restaurant of unsanitary practices that led to the woman becoming ill. The woman, who was pregnant, dined at the restaurant with her husband and other family members. Within 36 hours, six of the dining party became ill.

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