The Portland Town Attorney’s Workplace signed a $50,000 deal this week with Bullard Legislation, a Portland-based company, to defend the metropolis in opposition to lawful promises produced by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.
On Dec. 13, Hardesty submitted a lawsuit from the town, Portland’s law enforcement union and its former president, and a Portland Police Bureau officer for their alleged roles in the leak of information and facts that falsely implicated the commissioner in a strike-and-operate crash.
Hardesty is searching for $5 million in monetary damages: $3 million from the union, the Portland Police Association, and $1 million each from the officers. She is also looking for $1 in monetary damages from the town, as effectively as a declaration stating the metropolis violated her rights “to be free from race-centered discrimination and retaliation” beneath Oregon’s public accommodations legal guidelines.
Previous summer months, Hardesty first notified the city of her intention to sue when she filed a tort declare recognize in August.
The agreement, acquired by WW as a result of a general public documents ask for, addresses the tort declare recognize relatively than the lawsuit. It describes the contract’s scope as “all issues associated to the tort declare notice submitted by [attorney] Matthew C. Ellis on behalf of Jo Ann Hardesty, dated Aug. 2, 2021.”
While the contract refers to the previously submitting, the signatures are new. Liani Reeves, president of Bullard Regulation, signed the contract Dec. 6. Then on Dec. 13, the day Hardesty filed the lawsuit, chief deputy metropolis attorney Linda Legislation signed off on the agreement.
The agreement claims the town employed outdoors counsel because of to “an precise or likely conflict of interest”—most likely Hardesty’s posture as a city commissioner.
Hardesty’s lawsuit names two PPB officers as defendants: Kerri Ottoman and Brian Hunzeker, who is also the previous PPA president. Hunzeker has been on administrative leave from the Police Bureau considering the fact that Could. Ottoman has not been placed on administrative depart, in accordance to a bureau spokesman.
The deal does not specify no matter whether Bullard Regulation will also represent any involved officers, so it is unclear no matter if Hunzeker and Ottoman will be represented by the town or a town contractor—or if the officers will be represented by a lawful team totally impartial of the city, these kinds of as one employed by the PPA.
That distinction is difficult by the lawsuit’s claims, which allege that both of those Hunzeker and Ottoman had been acting exterior of the class and scope of their town obligations at the time of their alleged conduct. Conversely, it alleges that Hunzeker was performing within just the class and scope of his obligations with the PPA at the time of the leak.
In some circumstances, the Town Attorney’s Business has hired outside counsel to defend PPB officers owing to conflicts.
As WW described previous month, the town signed seven contracts this yr totaling $140,000 with the law organization Hart Wagner LLP to defend a few officers, all former members of the now-dissolved riot squad, the Quick Response Staff, owing to genuine or potential conflicts of desire.
Hardesty’s lawsuit more accuses the metropolis of violating Oregon’s public accommodations law by “engaging in an overreactive, extreme and unreasonable investigation” of the hit-and-operate itself. The criticism alleges that several unnamed Portland law enforcement officers confirmed up at Hardesty’s residence in several hours of the preliminary report, at all over 1 am, and “banged loudly on the doorway, waking her neighbors.”
“This perform by PPB officers was a discriminatory, retaliatory and unwarranted overreaction,” the lawsuit says. “Similar nonviolent, misdemeanor criminal complaints made to the [Bureau of Emergency Communications] non-emergency variety were rarely investigated either in person or in a well timed manner throughout the March 2021 time body since of both equally PPB staffing shortages and COVID-19 limits.”