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Oregon Court reverses $100M penalty over jury error

June 30, 2010 --

Oregon Supreme Court takes away $100 million in punitive damages due to flawed jury instruction
Ater Wynne
Oregon Law Firm

When the US Supreme Court decided Williams v. Philip Morris in 2007, it created a challenge for judges instructing juries on punitive damages.  The Due Process Clause prevents a jury from imposing punitive damages to punish a defendant directly for harm it causes to non-parties.  But a jury can consider evidence of harm to others when assessing the reprehensibility of defendant’s conduct as part of  setting the amount of punitive damages.  How to instruct juries to avoid improper use of evidence of harm to others is where the problem lies.

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AOI Opposes Federal DISCLOSE Act

June 29, 2010 --

Business opposition appears to have derailed measure
Article by: J.L. Wilson
Associated Oregon Industries
Oregon’s largest business advocate

AOI sent a letter to the Oregon Congressional Delegation in opposition to HR 5175, the so-called DISCLOSE Act, which aims to limit the ability of business groups to spend on federal elections. AOI also joined with the United States Chamber of Commerce and hundreds of other business organizations across the country in signing an industry letter in opposition to the measure.

HR 5175 severely limits the ability of business groups to spend on federal elections while giving preferential treatment to unions.

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Text: Governor ‘s ground breaking reset speech

June 28, 2010 --

Governor Ted Kulongoski
Speech before City Club of Portland

This is my eighth – and final – address as Governor to the City Club of Portland.  In April I gave what was billed as my last state of the state speech.  If that speech had been a television drama, it would have ended with the tagline:  “To be continued…”  I say that because today I want to finish what I started in April.  I said at that time that a collaboration of public and private citizens would make recommendations in June for restructuring state government.  I called this the “reset” and promised any change would not be done with accounting gimmicks or by executive fiat.

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Card Check — 3 Years Later

June 27, 2010 --

by Glenn Spencer
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Tomorrow marks three years since the Card Check bill was defeated in the U.S. Senate, falling nine votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster. Though the bill has yet to come up for debate during this Congress, employers would be well advised to remain focused on this lingering threat.

In recent days, Senate HELP Committee Chair Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has ratcheted up the rhetoric on Card Check, hinting yesterday that the bill could come up in a “lame duck” session of Congress late in 2010. At a United Auto Workers rally days earlier, Sen. Harkin declared:

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BP new ad, Plus 1st news interview with BP boss

June 26, 2010 --

Two videos below
1. BP’s new television ad aims to be softer, more local appeal
2. First TV interview by a BP boss
(by NBC News)

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Forecast: Low interest rates through 2011

June 25, 2010 --

New Interest Rate Forecast: Staying Low through 2011
By Bill Conerly,
Conerly Consulting
, Businomics,
I now forecast that interest rates will continue to be at their current low levels through the end of 2011.

The economy has substantial slack.  The level of our GDP is still 1.1 percentage point beneath our pre-recession peak level of output.  In the nine quarters since the peak, we should have had about seven percentage points of growth due to normal population and productivity gains.  So we are roughly eight percentage points below our potential.  Some estimate the gap at only six percentage points, but it’s still significant.

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Oregon stimulus update

June 24, 2010 --

By Oregon Tax News,

Recovery.org has listed their update on where and how federal stimulus dollars are being spent.  When comparing dollars per person, Oregon ends up in the national state average. Oregon is above the average for teh speed at which funds are sent to contractors.

1. CA – 6,354 projects, $24.12 Billion
2. WA – 2,428 Projects, $11.76 Billion
3. NV – 717 projects, $3.08 billion
4. OR – 2,161 Projects, 3.2 Billion
5. ID – 838 projects, $2.04 Billion.

*** See below for Fox Business News interview about the stimulus.

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Oregon Court drops 1,900 employees from lawsuit

June 23, 2010 --

Oregon Court of Appeals affirms decertification of class action
Ater Wynne
Oregon Law Firm

Last week the Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s decision to decertify a class action against US Bank.  In Belknap v. US Bank, the plaintiffs claimed that defendant employer failed to timely pay a portion of their wages.  In 2004, the trial court certified a plaintiffs’ class estimated to include up to 1,900 former employees.  But after two years of discovery and motion practice, the court decertified the class and the case proceeded with just the two named plaintiffs — only one of whom ultimately won his wage claim at trial.

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San Fransisco homes rise 50%, is Portland next?

June 22, 2010 --

San Francisco Home Values Rise 50%, What About Portland?
By Oregon Small Business Association

In San Francisco, home and condominium sales jumped 50 percent in the first quarter of 2010 from last year. According to a multiple listings analysis by Terradatum, the median price rose 5.4 percent, to $685,000. The Bay Area home values increased 16 percent in March illustrating the biggest jump of any city in the S&P/Case-Shiller Home-Price Index. The 20-city composite measure climbed 2.3 percent. Experts believe San Francisco’s unique attributes help keep home prices high and that as the tech sector recovers, buyers will pay top dollar.

Despite Portland’s unique attributes, the metro area has not been as fortunate as San Francisco. Although Portland is not a particularly bad market in comparison to the rest of the nation, the city is likely to complete 2010 without too much appreciation or depreciation of home values.

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Court sides with employers in texting privacy case

June 21, 2010 --

Supreme Court issues Favorable Ruling for Employers in Texting/Privacy Case
by Jim Shore
Stoel Rives, Oregon law firm

The United States Supreme Court issued a long-anticipated decision in City of Ontario v. Quon, unanimously ruling that a search of sexually explicit personal text messages sent by a police officer using his department pager was reasonable and did not violate the individual officer’s privacy rights. At issue was the right of a government employer to monitor its workers private communications because it believed employer-owned equipment was being abused.

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