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Appealing federal trial court decisions

As many Oregon residents know, the outcome of a civil case brought in federal court may be appealed by asking an appellate court to reverse or modify the lower court's decision. Either side may file an appeal in a civil case. The appellate court may also be asked to review decisions made by administrative agencies such as the Social Security Administration and bankruptcy courts.

The appeal is made to the particular U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that has jurisdiction over the lower U.S. District Court. . The appellate court's conclusion is usually the final word unless the case is brought before the Supreme Court, where a writ of certiorari is filed asking the Supreme Court to hear the case.

Trade secrets and non-competition agreements

As many businesses may know, a venture's competitive edge may rely on information that is protected from competitors. Many of these policies and procedures are designated as trade secrets, and some businesses ask that employees sign non-compete agreements in order to provide these secrets with added protection.

Trade secrets are generally protected under law. This is because the dissemination of that information might hurt a business's viability and market share, allowing competitors to use another entity's techniques to increase profitability. Non-competition agreements are useful tools for protecting that information. These contracts restrict how an employee might be able to interact with a business's competitors. However, even with these protections in place, some employees may breach the terms of a non-competition agreement or might cause harm to a business by violating trade secrets.

Man files lawsuit after alleged attack by Costco security

An Oregon man filed a lawsuit against Costco in Multnomah County Circuit Court. In the lawsuit, the man claims that Costco store security detained him after he refused to show a receipt when leaving a store in Portland. The man alleges that store security hit him that resulted in a broken leg. Reports say that the leg was fractured in multiple places. The lawsuit seeks $500,000 for pain and suffering, $20,000 in lost wages and another $150,000 in medical bills incurred.

The man's attorney said that the lawsuit was about more than just the broken leg. The attorney suggested that while a store can have a policy of checking receipts at the door, it is unclear how a company is able to respond to a refusal to follow that policy. He suggested that instead of detaining the man, the store could have prohibited him from returning to the store if it suspected him of shoplifting. However, tje attorney said that forcing him to stay at the store was akin to unlawful holding.

Oregon and Oracle sue each other for breach of contract

The state of Oregon is suing software company Oracle after it claims that the company breached contracts and engaged in racketeering. Court documents show that the suit was filed in August in Marion County Circuit Court. Meanwhile, Oracle has sued the state of Oregon in federal court for breach of contract. The dispute arises from work done on Oregon's health care exchange website.

The enrollment site for Cover Oregon was never launched, which allegedly forced the state to hire workers to process paper applications. In its lawsuit against Oracle, the state is seeking $240 million in damages. Oracle, on the other hand, is seeking $23 million in payments that it claims it is owed for work it did. The company also claims that the lawsuit is a deflection strategy used to distract from what became a political liability.

Federal government sued over rail car oil spill risk

Oregon residents may have heard that the U.S. Department of Transportation is being sued by the environmental groups ForestEthics and the Sierra Club. The environmental litigation, filed on Sept. 11, follows a legal petition that the groups delivered in July 2014. According to the petition, the groups demanded that the U.S. DOT prohibit older railroad tank cars, called DOT-111s, from transporting crude oil. They claim that these older railroad cars pose a significant environmental hazard because they are vulnerable to ruptures or punctures in an accident.

Accident investigators have long been calling for the DOT-111s to be retired from service, and lawmakers proposed in July new rules that would gradually cease the use of these older rail cars, which tend to carry flammable liquids such as crude oil. However, the environmental groups are not satisfied with the proposed rules. They say that the government plan will take too long to implement, and they argue that populated areas near railway lines will be placed at risk for several years if the timetable is not amended.

How a federal court's decision can be appealed

Oregon residents might be interested to learn about the process of appealing a federal court's decision. If a party believes a federal court ruled in error, the case is almost always eligible to receive a second look during an appeal. Although an appeal and a trial are similar in some ways, there are key differences that are important to understand.

Unlike trials that are heard by only one judge, appeals are heard by a panel of judges. These judges will each consider the appellate briefs that are submitted by each party's attorney during the appeal. The written briefs will contain the arguments for each party's belief that the trial court's decision was either correct or incorrect. Attorneys may also be given time to present an oral argument, and the judges will question the attorneys about information contained in each brief.

Judge rules that oil spill is mostly BP's responsibility

Oregon residents may remember the 87-day oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. According to recent reports, a federal judge made a ruling on Sept. 4 that may expose BP to significant penalties in connection with the offshore oil disaster. Although the company has made agreements to pay significant criminal fines and to compensate both individuals and businesses affected by the 2010 incident, the federal ruling could multiply the amount owed by four times.

A 2013 trial was held to address the responsibility for the spill, which killed 11 workers in addition to destroying wildlife habitats. Three companies were involved in the incident, and in the recent ruling, BP was assigned 67 percent of the responsibility due to reckless conduct. A cement contractor, Halliburton Energy Service, was assigned 3 percent of the responsibility, and a Swiss company, Transocean Ltd., was deemed to be 30 percent responsible. BP has responded by indicating that it plans to appeal the decision, noting that the record does not support the conclusions of the district court judge.

What are civil trials and civil appeals?

Readers who have been following our blog have likely heard the terms trial and appeal in some of the posts. For readers who are browsing through posts and those who find themselves in facing circumstances similar to those they read, knowing how an appeal differs from a trial might make understanding what is going on a lot easier.

What happens during a trial?

Oregon Department of State Lands denies Ambre Energy plan

Protecting the interests of the environment is something that some conscionable citizens and government authorities take responsibility for. When these individuals take steps that corporations or other individuals don't particularly like, court battles can start. Civil cases and civil appeals for these environmental cases sometimes occur. One case regarding Ambre Energy seems like it might be heading toward an appeal.

The Oregon Department of State Lands has rejected an application from the company to place pilings in the Columbia River. Ambre Energy wants to build a terminal where coal would be placed on barges to be placed on vessels as part of shipping the coal to Asian buyers.

Oregon court does not have jurisdiction over natural gas appeal

A gas company in Oregon, known as Oregon LNG, has been attempting to get permission for the construction of a terminal and a pipeline for natural gas. It would be constructed out on the Skipanon Peninsula, which is located in Warrenton. This location would put the facility right near the end of the Columbia River.

Part of the company's goal is then to ship the liquid natural gas along the river. This has been a source of contention, as some groups in the area -- such as Columbia Riverkeeper -- are opposed to this action.

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