July 24, 2013

Earthrise Clients Win SLAPP Suit in Federal Court

7/24/13 - In an opinion released Monday, a federal judge in Portland ruled in favor of the defendants in a case that had all the earmarks of a classic SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation).

For over two years, Earthrise Law Center has represented a Mt. Hood area Community Planning Organization (the rural equivalent of a neighborhood association) as well as individuals associated with the CPO. They were sued in federal court by a developer upset by their comments opposing his development proposal’s adverse impacts on the Sandy River and its important salmon habitat. It was a classic SLAPP—a strategic lawsuit against public participation.

On Monday, Judge Michael Simon issued an order granting our clients’ motion for summary judgment and dismissing all claims against all defendants. Third-year Earthrise clinic student Laura Hagen did excellent work during the discovery phase of the case fall semester 2012, and third-year student Nick Lawton wrote much of the summary judgment briefs—as well as argued the summary judgment motion before the court earlier this month. Nick drew praise from Judge Simon for both his written and oral advocacy in the case.

Lead attorney, Professor Dan Rohlf, said of the case, “All in all, it is a result that makes me proud to work with Earthrise and teach at a law school with such dedicated and talented students.”

Read the press statement and Judge Simon’s opinion, linked below.