Archive for the ‘Legislation-Oregon’ Category

Oregon National Guard medical monitoring bill passes Oregon Legislature

This is a belated follow-up on pending legislation to provide relief to Oregon National Guard members who were exposed to sodium dichromate in Iraq in 2003. By way of full disclosure, I’m part of a legal team representing Oregon Guard members who were exposed to sodium dichromate at the Qarmat Ali facility. We are pursuing claims for injured soldiers against KBR.

Background on the legislation is here.  The short version is that it creates a fund that will help exposed Oregon National Guard members who develop cancer in the future.  According to the legislative history, Sen. Carter carried the bill in the Senate after it passed the House, and it passed by an overwhelming majority.

It’s generally good news for our soldiers, with one hitch.  Unfortunately, the state of Oregon’s finances left the effort underfunded. But I’m guessing that Rep. Shields and others who worked tirelessly on this bill will see to supplementing the funding in the future.

Many thanks are owed to Rep.  Chip Shields and to Larry Roberta and Scott Ashby for their testimony.

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Governor Palin discovers the need for an open civil justice system

I was taken by this 4th of July missive from Governor Palin’s attorneys relating to a claim for defamation. I know nothing of the statements or claims, but apparently Gov. Palin’s legal team takes issue with those who claim that Gov. Palin resigned because of a pending corruption investigation.

Like I say, I don’t know a thing about it and have no opinion about any of it. But what catches my eye is that Gov. Palin and her legal team are not bashful about resorting to the courts to assert claims for defamation.

I suppose that this is as it should be, but I can’t help but chuckle. I know that Gov. Palin has complained about too many lawsuits, frivolous lawsuits and the like many times over. Even so, she does not hesitate to threaten litigation when her ox is being gored.

I have no quarrel with her upset or the prospect that she might choose to sue. But let’s be clear that those who resort to the courts should have no basis to question others who do exactly the same thing.

In the case of Gov. Palin, defamation is a tricky claim. It requires proof of false statements. It also requires proof that the false statement caused injury to reputation. I have a hard time seeing how Gov. Palin could prove injury to reputation, even if the statements are false. But that, of course, is a question for a jury.

At bottom, I will forever more say, “Oink!” anytime Gov. Palin or her supporters criticize others who might seek relief through the civil justice system. After all, if it’s acceptable for Gov. Palin to use the civil justice system with what might be a questionable claim, the rest of us should not be hit with a higher standard.

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Bill to fund medical treatment for poisoned Oregon National Guard members still moving forward

In the waning days of the Oregon Legislature, word comes from Rep. Chip Shields that legislative help for poisoned Oregon National Guard veterans is still moving forward. HB 3480 creates a fund to provide future medical care for Oregon Guard soldiers who were exposed to hexavalent chromium while serving in Iraq in 2003. Here is a link to the current version of the bill. A minor disclaimer: this is only the version current as of the time I write this post. I imagine it will change before things are done.

Unfortunately, the state of Oregon’s economy and budget leaves little to fund the problem. Those of us familiar with the Oregon legislature know that things happen in steps and cycles. As a result, the first step of setting up the fund is the most critical. Finding more funding will have to come in the next cycle. It’s a longterm and on-going problem, so it’s best viewed as major progress.

I got a voice mail from Rep. Chip Shields late last night updating me on the bill’s progress. He remains optimistic that it will pass. A few things worth noting. Rep. Shields has been a terrific advocate for our soldiers.  As one of the lawyers representing sick soldiers, I can only offer my thanks. Thanks are due, also, to co-sponsors of the bill, Reps.  Barton, Matthews, Barker, Gelser, Kahl, Stiegler, and Vanorman.

Rep. Shields and his colleagues’ diligence and hard work merits comment. Moving any revenue bill in this environment is a minor  miracle. While it’s not done yet, simply taking it on has tremendous benefits. Rep. Shields has pushed the issue to the forefront and given needed assurance to our vets that they don’t walk alone.

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