Case Histories


Valuable private land requires realistic payment from City.

When the City of Portland decided to “take” a portion Dick and Gayanne Courter’s property for a future water tower, they offered as “just compensation” a fraction of the value of the property — the last remaining large parcel of developable land in Portland’s West Hills. That’s when they called us. After a hotly contested lawsuit in which the City also sued Gayanne’s 95-year-old mother, Kelly Clark and the OCC trial team won a jury verdict that was nearly five times the settlement offer, along with a requirement that the City pay the Courter’s attorney fees.

Local marina fights land use laws for smooth sailing.

When Fred’s Marina on the Columbia River had its expansion construction slapped with a stop-work order by Multnomah County land use authorities — an order with no right to appeal and no right to a hearing — owners Cherie and Greg Sprando called longtime friend and lawyer Mark O’Donnell. A year later, thanks to a dogged lawsuit brought by Kelly Clark and the OCC team, a federal judge ruled that the county’s actions were unconstitutional. A settlement with the county required the county to expedite all future land use permits on the expansion, as well as to pay the marina’s legal fees.

Mixed-use project moves mountains — and mobile home park.

When putting together one of the largest land assemblages in U.S. history, developers of Clackamas Town Promenade and the surrounding residential and commercial development had one major obstacle: The Sunnyside Mobile Home park and its community of renters. Working with attorney Mark O’Donnell, residents were relocated rather than evicted. Community goodwill and significant funding from the Clackamas County Development Agency were a direct result, bringing this nearly $100 million project to fruition.

Blocking room tax keeps area hotels competitive.

With alarming frequency, cities and counties throughout Oregon have floated the idea of increasing hotel room taxes to support deteriorating economic conditions in their local communities. Increasing hotel room taxes in this manner is nearly always an attempt to balance a local budget on the backs of the lodging industry without any appreciation for the adverse impact such an increase can have on local tourism. Attorneys Mark O’Donnell and Matthew Lowe have been successful in thwarting these efforts in several jurisdictions by educating local officials both on the adverse impact that an increase has on the community, as well as the applicable law that in many instances would be violated through such an increase.

Beaverton says “Si” to Spanish immersion charter school.

The Beaverton School District is one of the largest school districts in the state of Oregon. Yet despite their size, they were one of the few districts without a single charter school. Working on behalf of the Arco Iris Spanish Immersion School, lawyer Matthew Lowe went through the long and complicated process to receive a charter. The result? Arco Iris Spanish Immersion School opened for classes in September of 2010.

Legal team gets an A+ for charter school.

When the South Lane School District in Cottage Grove, Oregon decided to terminate the charter of one of its charter schools, attorney Matthew Lowe did his homework. He represented the charter school before a hearings officer in the first charter school hearing of its type in the state. The finding? A final order that determined the school district had wrongfully terminated the charter. The termination was overturned by the Oregon Department of Education and school was back in session.

Small business owners chop down corporate giant Weyerhaeuser in antitrust lawsuit.

alder treeIn April of 2008, following a two week trial, Steve Crew, working with affiliated lawyers from Washington D.C., won an $84 million jury verdict against timber giant Weyerhaeuser for unlawfully monopolizing the market for finished alder lumber.

The class action lawsuit was brought on behalf of 400 to 500 businesses that use alder logs to produce finished products — all of whom had been unfairly targeted by Weyerhaeuser’s illegal activities.

To date, the verdict is the largest-ever antitrust verdict in Oregon or Washington.

Read more about Steve Crew here.

Beachfront boundaries shift with the tides.

When Robert Riley bought beachfront property in the 1940s, he knew his land stretched from where he stood “north to the Nehalem River.” For nearly 60 years, no one believed him — including the paper companies that tried to claim the properties for their own use. Fourteen days of trial included multiple expert witnesses whose testimony covered more than 150 years of deeds, surveys and significant geological events. In the end, lawyers Steve Crew and Matthew Lowe convinced the court that Mr. Riley, who had spent a lifetime fighting for what he knew was his, was the rightful owner of the land under the law of accretion.

Proper planning eases family business transition

When the owners of a small, family-owned business decided it was time to develop and implement an effective succession plan, they called attorney Mark O'Donnell. The goal was simple: A smooth transition from one generation to the next with the least estate tax impact. Following the sudden passing of the business' founder, the legal team at O'Donnell Clark & Crew probated the founder's estate, established a marital bypass trust to reduce the tax impact and addressed the various corporate, real property and other issues- easing the burden on the family to the greatest extent possible during an extremely difficult time. 

OCC takes on Boy Scouts — and wins.

Most child abuse cases settle before the trial begins, due to high emotions for the victims and the fear of public exposure for the perpetrators and the organizations that enabled the abuse. But every once in a while, a defendant refuses to recognize its role in the abuse and the case must be tried before a jury. Such was the situation in 2010 as a case against the Boy Scouts of America went to trial before a Portland jury. After six weeks of trial and intense national media coverage, attorneys Kelly Clark and Gilion Dumas — along with the entire OCC trial team and our sometime colleague Paul Mones — won a verdict, including punitive damages, of nearly $20 million, at the time the largest single plaintiff child abuse verdict in history.

Abuse case changes lives — and the law.

In 1994, a 33 year-old man walked into Kelly Clark’s office and told of his abuse as a boy at the hands of a Catholic priest. Seven years later, on the morning of the trial in 2001 — following litigation at the Multnomah County Circuit Court, the Oregon Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court — the Archdiocese of Portland finally paid the man a fair settlement. Along the way, Kelly and the entire OCC team changed the law governing child abuse cases through a 1999 win at the Supreme Court. This opened the door for hundreds of abuse survivors to seek justice in court from those who abused them, and the institutions that sheltered the abusers.