We have a diverse, multi-jurisdiction trial-focused practice in the areas of

  • Complex business litigation
  • Securities litigation
  • Intellectual property: patent (litigation), copyright, trademark, and trade secrets
  • Antitrust
  • Business and nonprofit corporations
  • Real estate litigation
  • Public utilities
  • Condemnation
  • Oppression of minority shareholders
  • Accounting malpractice
  • ERISA litigation

Our Lawyers

The Firm's partners have practiced together for more than 30 years, and have the highest rating attainable from Martindale-Hubbell (“AV Preeminent”). All three are Oregon “Super Lawyers” and “Best Lawyers”, and the Firm is rated a Tier 1 Best Law Firm. Mike and John are 2018 Benchmark “Litigation Stars” as well. The Firm's practice is sophisticated and varied, and based almost entirely on referrals from other clients and attorneys. The Firm has been involved in an unusual number of reported cases, which reflect its multi-faceted practice.

Esler, Stephens, Buckley & Hardiman

John, Gary, Kim and Mike, in court following hearing successfully concluding almost $18 million in settlements in a recent securities fraud case.

Recent News & Highlights

  • July 2018: Mike Esler is quoted in an article in The Oregonian on a recent successful settlement with our group of Aequitas investors with the Tonkon Torp law firm in Portland, which will contribute $18.5 million to investors who lost their money in the Aequitas Ponzi scheme. This money constitutes virtually all of that firm’s insurance policy proceeds. We continue to work on claims filed against other professionals who provided aid to the Aequitas Ponzi scheme. 
  • July 2018: ES&B concludes successful settlement of FINRA arbitration against a New York City brokerage involving churning. Churning is the excessive buying and selling of securities in a portfolio designed primarily to pad the pocket of the broker with commissions and not generate successful returns for the investor. If you think your broker is doing too much buying and selling or is not responding to your interest in understanding what is going on, you should talk to an experienced securities attorney to determine if you have a legal claim.
  • June 2018: ES&B successfully settles FINRA arbitration over sale of highly unsuitable L-share variable annuities by a major Northwest regional broker. Variable annuities are expensive investment products that include elements of life insurance and are difficult for most people to understand. L-Share variable annuities are usually even more unsuitable given their higher fees and short-term surrender periods. They are particularly unwise for high net worth individuals. If you have any doubts about your purchase of a variable annuity you should talk to an experienced securities attorney.
  • August 2017: ES&B co-counseled with trial attorneys Cody Hoesly and Bridget Donegan (from Larkins Vacura Kayser) and helped obtain $1,000,000 jury verdict for our business broker client after a company he helped sell failed to pay him.
  • January 2017: ES&B successfully wraps up settlements totaling almost $18,000,000 in the Berjac securities fraud case. As a part of that work, ES&B assisted the related bankruptcy trustee and its counsel in obtaining $7,000,000 in settlement funds for investors. This result meant that investors received back about half of what they lost, an unusually high amount in cases like these where the issuer files for bankruptcy. The judge on the case said that “all the legal work done on the case was extraordinary and helped contribute both to a just result as well as to a very fair and rational and efficient way of getting us there.”
  • April 2016: John Stephens and Mike Esler appointed Special Attorneys General by the Oregon DOJ to help prosecute Unlawful Trade Practices claims against General Nutrition Center and later, Vitamin Shoppe.
  • March 2016: ES&B obtains federal trademark registrations for award-winning chef David Machado’s celebrated restaurants NEL CENTRO and ALTABIRA. Gary Hardiman did much of the work for us and has helped register a number of restaurant names including Jeremiah Tower's famous STRS and Bradley Ogden's FUNKY CHICKEN.
  • February 2016: Mike Esler mentioned in front page article in The Oregonian “Investors fear their savings gone to pot,” about new case we are working on (with others) involving losses at Iris Capital.
  • Fall 2015: Mike, John and Gary obtained a seven figure settlement of a FINRA arbitration on behalf of a retired doctor whose broker repeatedly placed him in Pro Shares' “geared” and “leveraged and inverse funds.” These types of exchange traded funds (ETFs) are designed to deliver one, two, three, or four times the inverse of the daily result of a particular index like the Dow or S&P 500, and they must be bought and sold on an almost daily basis to have their intended effect. If the market index goes down, the investment goes up. If the market goes up, the investment goes down. They are widely misunderstood. As a significant part of any individual investor's holdings, especially older investors, we believe they are completely unsuitable. Be wary if your broker is pitching these funds.
  • November 2015: Mike Esler is key witness for Federal prosecutors at sentencing hearing of Sunwest’s former CEO Jon Harder. Harder’s plea bargain provided for a range of 5 to 15 years and he received the maximum—15 years. Read The Oregonian’s article. Read Mike’s testimony transcript.
  • July 2015: John Stephens was named Chair of the US District Court of Oregon Local Rules Advisory Committee. John has served on the Committee in various capacities for 15 years.
  • April 2015: John Stephens’ service as coach helps Grant High School's Constitution Team win first place in the 'We the People' national competition in Washington, D.C.
  • April 2015: Kim Buckley and (now Justice) Meagan Flynn (then of Preston, Bunnell & Flynn) successfully defended ES&B’s trial court victory in appeal and cross-appeal of judgment in favor of our client, a distinguished law firm, against a former partner. The issues concerned the terms of their partnership agreement and allocation of assets between the firm and its former partner. Read more about the case.
  • February 2015: Gary Hardiman’s Comment Letter was cited 4 times by the SEC in its Order Approving a Proposed Rule Change Relating to the Revisions to the Definitions of Non-Public Arbitrator and Public Arbitrator. Gary, a FINRA arbitrator, wrote in opposition to a rule change that would place professionals who spend 20% or more of their time advocating on behalf of investors in the “Non-Public” arbitrator category, urging that they remain “Public” arbitrators. Unfortunately, we think, for investors, the SEC approved the change.
  • Kim Buckley served as a judge in the National Black Law Students Association 2015 National Moot Court competition.

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