News, Highlights & Reported Cases

Esler, Stephens & Buckley's lawyers have the highest rating attainable from Martindale-Hubbell (A-V). All three of our Firm’s partners – Michael Esler, John Stephens, and Kim Buckley (recently retired partner emeritus) – have been named by Super Lawyers magazine as top attorneys in Oregon. Only five percent of the lawyers in the state are named by Super Lawyers. Mike Esler was selected for inclusion in the 2011 edition of “The Best Lawyers in America” in “Bet the Company Litigation” and Commercial Litigation. Mike won Best Lawyers' “Lawyer of the Year” award for 2012 for securities litigation in the Portland area. Mike, John and Kim have been listed in “Best Lawyers” for years, including 2015. The firm won Benchmark's “Highly Recommended” rating for 2013 and has held it since. The firm is also rated a Tier 1 Best Law Firm by the US News & World Report. Most recently, Mike was honored by an invitation to join the elite International Society of Barristers as a Fellow of the Society.

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News & Highlights



Ainslie v. Spolyar, 144 Or App 134, 983 P.2d 533 (1996) (securities case decided in favor of our plaintiff-clients).

Ainslie v. First Interstate Bank of Oregon, 148 Or App 162, 939 P.2d 125 (1997) (securities case in which our plaintiff-clients received a jury verdict, including ORICO treble damages and punitive damages, of more than $10.8 million, all affirmed on appeal except for ORICO damages).

Anderson v. Carden, 146 Or App 675, 934 P.2d 562 (1997) (another successful securities fraud prosecution).

AT&T v BNSF Railway Co.; TriMet, 323 Fed Appx 487 (9th Cir 2009) (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed favorable interpretation of easement and related documents for our client TriMet over claims by telecommunications companies that TriMet should pay for relocating fiber optic lines. Case written up in 11/30/06 issue of Mass Transit Lawyer).

Burns Bros., Inc. v. Pewag, Inc., 53 Fed Appx 77 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (affirming judgment of noninfringement for our defendant-clients).

Citizen’s Utility Board v. Public Utility Commission of Oregon, 154 Or App 702, 962 P.2d 744 (1998) (obtained reversal of a PUC decision that would have allowed PGE to charge ratepayers for lost profits on the Trojan nuclear plant; estimated to save PGE customers $21 million per year).

City of Bend v. Juniper, 242 Or App 9 (2011) (following three months of trial in late 2005, the condemnee was awarded about 25% of what it sought from our client, the City of Bend. The trial judge commented that the case presented the best lawyering he had ever seen. The award was reduced by another $1 million on appeal and the parties settled).

Employers’ Fire Ins. v. Love It Ice Cream, 64 Or App 784, 670 P.2d 160 (1983) (insurance carrier to our client found liable based on bad faith refusal to settle).

FTC v. Francis Ford, Inc., 673 F2d 1008, cert denied, 459 US 999 (1982) (abusive use of adjudicatory hearing to create an industry rule).

Freeman v. Duffy, 328 Or564, 983 P.2d 533 (1999) (personal jurisdiction issue decided in favor of our plaintiff-client).

Hallco Mfg. Co. v. Foster, 256 F.3d 129 (Fed. Cir. 2001) (patent infringement; one of several before the Federal Circuit on behalf of Hallco).

Harris v. Dyer, 292 Or 233, 637 P2d 918 (1981)(client’s right to attorney fees incurred in arbitration successfully defended).

Harris v. Warren Family Properties, LLC, 207 Or App 732, 143 P.3d 548 (2006) (won reversal for our plaintiff-client of judgment for landlord in lease interpretation case).

Hayden v. Shin-Etsu Handotai America, 80 F. Supp.2d 1119 (D. Or 1999) (successful personal jurisdiction and patent infringement prosecution).

Hayes v. Olmsted, 173 Or App 259, 21 P.3d 178 (2001) (minority shareholder squeeze-out/freeze-out case in which client shareholder recovered about three times the highest offer of the company).

Landye Bennett Blumstein, LLP v. Jeffrey S. Mutnick, PC, 274 Or App 158 (2015) (Won appeal on behalf of our distinguished law firm client in a dispute with a former partner. The Court of Appeals agreed with our interpretation of the partnership agreement at issue and affirmed the trial court’s allocation of assets in our client’s favor. Meagan Flynn, then of Preston, Bunnell & Flynn had the lead on writing the briefs and argued the case before the Oregon Court of Appeals. Meagan is now Judge Meagan Flynn of the Oregon Court of Appeals, a well-deserved appointment).

Mainland Industries, Inc. v. Timberland Machine and Engineering Corp., 58 Or App 585, 649 P.2d 613 (1982) (fiduciary duties of a corporate officer and ownership of patent, trade secrets, and unfair competition).

Mackey v. TKCC, Inc., 134 Or App 121, 894 P2d 1200 (1995)(client’s right to proceed against contractor and landlord successfully defended).

Northwest Climate Conditioning Assn. v. Lobdell, 77 Or. App. 325, 713 P.2d 612, on reconsideration, 79 Or. App. 560, 720 P.2d 1281 (1986) (public utility and trade regulation).

Oil Heat Institute of Oregon v. Northwest Natural Gas, 123 FRD 640 (D. Or 1988) (successful false advertising prosecution for our client Oil Heat Institute).

Pac Equities, Inc. (US v. Rich) (represented numerous investors and the Receiver in securities fraud claims against attorneys who assisted Pac Equities in the formation and sale of fraudulent securities. Case settled for policy limits (over $6,000,000) after opening arguments of what would have been a six-week trial. Won affirmance of judgment approving settlement and claims bar). 317 Fed. Appx. 63D, 2008 WL 4946310 (CA9) (unpublished).

In Re Portland General Electric Co., 86 PUR 4th 463 (Or. PUC 1987) (ratemaking proceeding in which the Commission said this of our work on behalf of Citizen’s Utility Board:  “The Commission wishes to compliment the parties on the quality of the advocacy before the Commission.  This proceeding has been extremely controversial.  However, the quality of counsel and the presentations by the witnesses have been exceptional. **** The Citizens’ Utility Board’s efforts in this proceeding require special mention.  Although limited by lack of funds, CUB presented thought-provoking and incisive testimony.  In addition, CUB’s opening brief is remarkable in its historical scope and authoritativeness.  The Commission looks forward to CUB’s participation in the future proceedings.”)

QSIndustries, Inc. v. Mike’s Train House, Inc., 230 F. Supp.2d 1240 (D.Or. 2002) (patent litigation on behalf of model train electronics company).

Rosekrans v. Class Harbor Association, 228 Or App 621, 209 P3d 411 (2009)(client’s rights successfully defended against action by majority of members of non-profit association).

SEC v. Capital Consultants, Inc., 185 Fed Appx 705, 2006 WL 1932 989 (9th Cir 2006) (won reversal of denial of clients’ ability to elect tracing option to recover from receiver of failed investment company).  The collapse of Capital Consultants has been described as “the biggest fraud by a pension fund manager in US history.”  The Firm was lauded for its overall contribution to the case by all plaintiffs.

Topinka v. ITC Corp. [1987-88 Transfer Binder] Blue Sky L. Rep. 72, 615 (D. Or. 1987) (securities).

Widmer Brewing Co. v. Rolph, 128 Or App 666, 877 P.2d 112 (1994) (unfair competition/bid-rigging judgment affirmed in favor of client).


Grifphon/Sasquatch Hedge Fund Class Action (Adams et al. v. Perkins & Co. et al.) We filed Oregon securities law claims on behalf of investors in so-called black box hedge funds. The case converted to a class action and resulted in a successful settlement in 2015 well in excess of the average result in a securities fraud case–upwards of 30% (0.30 on the dollar) returned to investors. This was a complex case which focused on aiders and abettors of the issuers of the securities whose insurance (virtually all the available assets of the defendants) funded the bulk of the settlements (as is often the case, the issuers themselves had no assets). The head of the hedge fund was sentenced to six years in prison.

Whaley et al. v. Pacific Seafood Group et al. We defended Pacific Seafood Group in an antitrust class action filed by fishermen alleging that our client unlawfully created and maintained monopoly control over four West Coast seafood commodity input markets for the purpose of suppressing prices paid to fishermen. We achieved a settlement in 2012 that involved no payment of monetary damages and a client that remained structurally intact (no divestment). Local media described it as a “big win” for our client and a “momentous dual legal victory.”

Sunwest Management, Inc. Represented 300 investors in largest securities fraud of its kind on West Coast. The Court described the results as “nothing short of astonishing and border on the miraculous.” Awarded enhanced fee in September 2012 for “invaluable assistance” in providing services to Receiver and Court.

Akerman et al. v. Bean et al. Represented investors in a Las Vegas real estate project on securities fraud and other claims. Case settled favorably in third week of trial.

Gross v. Eckankar. Successful defense of religion against claims by its former leader to enforce a “lifetime” contract and seeking to invalidate trademarks.

Trademarks. Obtained registration of mark for the famous San Francisco restaurant, STARS, in what we believe was the first time the USPTO recognized a distinction between fast food and gourmet restaurants in a likelihood of confusion analysis. Obtained registration of Eckankar’s Ziggurat temple headquarters in what we believe was the first registration in the U.S. of a religious building design.

The Firm steps outside its business practice on occasion to take on cases that interest its lawyers or have compelling circumstances, e.g., the Firm represented an African-American cab driver beaten by security guards and falsely accused of trespass. The case resulted in a significant settlement for our client. The Firm was counsel to a Willamette Valley landowner/farmer and helped in qualifying a 580 acre parcel for the Wetlands Restoration Program sponsored by USDA and obtaining support and grants from several agencies and organizations. It was the largest private land wetlands restoration to date in the Willamette Valley.

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