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Portland Environmental and Business Law Blog

What are common errors in federal appeals filings?

In a review of briefs filed through the federal Court of Appeals, it was found that a bit over 16 percent featured common errors. Working with a lawyer who is well-versed in appeals processes helps reduce the chance that your case will suffer from some of these common errors.

Documents that are filed through the court's electronic process have to be in a PDF format so they are text searchable. This means they have to start out as word processing files and be converted to PDFs using conversion software, which may or may not be included in the word processing program. Firms cannot simply scan a document as a PDF, because that does not create searchable text.

Court sides with defendants in liability case

The Oregon Court of Appeals recently reviewed a case regarding whether the provider of electrical requirements for a facility that produced semiconductors was liable for damages occurring in relation to an outage in 2007. The plaintiffs in the case contended that the defendants were responsible. The defendants filed a cross-motion in the original case, asking for summary judgement based on the fact that the entities had signed a contract releasing defendants from such liability.

The trial court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgement, agreeing that the contract released the defendant from liability in a power outage situation. The plaintiffs appealed the case, arguing that the trial court had not interpreted the contract clause correctly. The plaintiffs argued that liability was not as limited as the defendant alleged.

Are you taking all laws into account for your shooting range?

Guns are a hot topic politically and with regard to the law, but shooting ranges who offer legal options for firearms practice shouldn't have any problems. The issue is that it can be difficult to know whether you are following the law as a shooting range, because so many laws can come into play regarding your business.

Did you know that environmental laws might impact how you can run your business, for example? You have to operate within the law when it comes to handling customers, setting up a shooting range and cleaning up after customers. Other regulations that are important include zoning laws, liability requirements, land use regulations and licensing requirements. That last one is especially important if you also sell firearms.

Court decides arbitrator must hear motion

It's a growing trend among companies to have employees and customers sign contracts that include arbitration agreements. In an arbitration agreement, a person usually agrees that any legal matter will be heard by a third-party arbitrator and not a court. One case recent in the Oregon Court of Appeals dealt with an issue involving such an agreement.

According to reports, approximately 2,500 plaintiffs filed a class action suit against a trade school specializing in culinary arts. The suit claimed that the defendant engaged in unfair trade practices and fraud. At the trial court level, the defendants filed a motion to compel arbitration.

How do cases get to the Supreme Court?

Obviously, the trail to the Supreme Court of the United States is slightly different for each case that makes it there, but SCOTUS has provided a theoretical example on its blog to illustrate how the procedure works. The example begins with a man suing his employer, claiming that his rights under the Constitution and the federal Civil Rights Act were violated.

The lawsuit would begin in a federal district court. These are the lower courts responsible for hearing issues and conducting trials on federal matters. If the man were not happy with the decision made by the federal district court, he could appeal the case. The appeal would be reviewed by one of 13 appellate courts in the country.

Understanding objections in a courtroom

If you've watched any amount of television or movies, then you've probably seen some courtroom drama play out on the screen. While the manner in which court is depicted in fictional stories is often more dramatic than real life, some elements are consistent. For example, lawyers do make objections during court proceedings, and judges do rule on those objections.

Objections and how they are handled can be critical to the final legitimacy of a case and might become an issue included in any appeals documents. Understanding objections is important for anyone who is involved in civil litigation, especially if the case is being appealed. Objections and the judge's decisions regarding objections can become complex, which is why it's a good idea to consult with an attorney if you have any questions regarding your case.

Appeals court decides partially in favor of plaintiff

A recent case heard by the Oregon Court of Appeals involved a family of four. The family originally brought a civil complaint to the lower court, and the court dismissed the claims. The appeal alleged that the lower court erred in the dismissal of the claims.

The defendants in the case brought information that cross-assigned error on the part of the trial court. Multiple defendants in the case filed multiple motions to dismiss; the trial court filed to dismiss under all the reasons filed, and this is what the defendants took issue with.

Understand stormwater runoff to avoid environmental litigation

Whether you're managing a construction site or dealing with protected land, stormwater runoff might be a concern. Oregon provides some regulations and policies for managing stormwater runoff, and failing to do so correctly can result in litigation, appeals and lawsuits that can delay critical projects or raise costs for your organization.

Just two years ago, a county across the river from Portland felt the financial blow related to mismanaged stormwater runoff. The county had been accused of failures to deal with dirty or polluted stormwater, and the lawsuit ended with a settlement. In the settlement, the county was forced to pay a $3 million penalty. It also had to comply with requirements of the Clean Water Act in the future.

Oregon's complex evidence code

The information that you and your attorney present at trial matters in the eventual outcome of a case, but so does the way that information is presented. The rules of evidence matter during both the trial itself and during any appeals processes. Understanding how to manage and present evidence in keeping with the rules is essential, and seeing where the other party didn't do so can help you win an appeal.

Oregon's evidence rules cover physical evidence, notices and requirements, general witnesses and expert opinions and witnesses. For example, a witness can't testify in a case unless he or she is shown to have personal knowledge of whatever he or she will be testifying about. Expert witnesses have to qualify as such, meaning they must present with the right background, education, skills or training to be considered an expert on the matter.

The purpose of Oregon's forest protection laws

One of the state of Oregon's natural resources is its forests. Tourists come to visit the beautiful forests, and companies log the forests in keeping with laws. Numerous activities in the forest generate resources and money for the state, so maintaining the forests is important from both a financial and a conservation perspective.

The laws in Oregon ensure that people and businesses who own land in the forest areas plan accordingly to keep actions from having too many adverse effects on the forests. Paperwork regarding various types of activities and business must be filed with local forestry departments, and there are regulations on how forest land can be used for business and other purposes.

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