With a network of offices throughout the West, it is Buchalter’s Portland office which enjoys the reputation as the full-service business firm’s primary seat of power. Among the numerous specialisms within which the firm’s litigators deal, Buchalter’s most notable involvements are those arising in the white-collar and appellate practice areas.
A new face both at the firm and among Benchmark’s litigation stars, Sanjay Bhandari of San Diego settles comfortably into the role of co-chair of Buchalter’s white-collar and investigations practice. He is currently active as counsel to DiversyFund as the company and its founders face an investigation under the oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division. Also involved on the matter is Bhandari’s fellow white-collar co-chair, Joshua Robbins. Maintaining practices both at the firm’s Orange County and Los Angeles offices, Robbins also serves as counsel to the Center for COVID Control – which previously boasted the distinction of being among the nation’s largest independent providers of COVID testing – simultaneously representing the company in a federal criminal investigation, civil matters brought by the Attorney Generals of Washington and Minnesota, and numerous state investigations which all arise in connection with certain operations exercised by the company at the pandemic’s height.
Finally, and hailing from the firm’s Portland office, Michael “Sam” Sandmire’s practice emphasizes complex commercial litigation and corresponding appellate matters.
Portland litigation boutique Stoll Berne has amassed a steadily growing fan base among peers in the legal community throughout Oregon and beyond. One prominent figure in the New York litigation market testifies, “I have worked with Stoll Berne on a couple of matters and found them to be a complete pleasure. Refreshingly laid-back but still very tenacious and persuasive. They feel like real partners, not just local counsel.” The firm has also amassed a loyal client following. “They provide great insight and knowledge of the process of litigation and settlement,” testifies one peer. “They work very well with D&O insurance, and they provide outstanding legal research.” Another confirms, “They assessed my case, perceived the downside and suggested a couple of strategies. They gave me prompt response, and I appreciated their friendliness and calmness.” The firm’s model affords it the flexibility of pursuing cases entrepreneurially, on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants.
Stoll Berne boasts a multi-year streak of wins as “Oregon Firm of the Year” at the Benchmark award ceremony, including the most recent one in April 2022, on the strength of the gravity of its work and the growing recognition the firm is eliciting for it. This honor is all the more remarkable in light of the fact that, according to a peer observer, “Portland has an impressive crew of trial lawyers who know how to deliver Oregon-style justice to bigger outsiders who arrogantly try to elbow past them.” In one example of a headline-level case, a team composed of Keith Ketterling, Steve Larson and Jen Wagner took on chemical juggernaut Monsanto on behalf of the State of Oregon and, in a separate case, the City of Seattle, in environmental cases stemming from Monsanto’s alleged PCB-related contamination of various land and water locales, affecting local ecosystems and wildlife. The team triumphed in the former case when, with a trial scheduled for May 2022, the case settled after jury selection and before opening statements. In another, a team including Ketterling, Tim DeJong and Cody Berne lead a proposed class action arising from the 2020 Labor Day fires in Oregon, which destroyed thousands of homes and burned over a million acres. Plaintiffs allege that PacifiCorp, a massive electric utility, caused or contributed to the destruction by leaving power lines and other equipment energized during extremely critical fire conditions, re-energizing damaged power lines without inspecting them for damage, and not adequately keeping vegetation away from power lines. This case was the first filed lawsuit arising from the fires and remains the only filed class action. Along with seeking $1.6 billion in damages for the proposed class, this case also seeks injunctive relief to mitigate the threat of power line fires. Motions to dismiss and to transfer venue were denied by the Multnomah County Circuit Court. The Stoll Berne team’s motion for issues class certification is fully briefed, and the parties are awaiting a decision before the trial court. Berne, a new future star making his debut in this edition, is championed by a peer as “hard-scrambling and hard-working,” and someone who is “definitely carrying on the family name. Gary [Berne] was one of the pioneering plaintiff lawyers, and Cody is going to make his Dad really proud.” DeJong leads a case, in the defense capacity, for a major law firm in a securities class action in which plaintiffs allege that the seller operated a Ponzi scheme and that the client firm participated or aided sales of the securities by drafting the securities offering documents. DeJong co-leads another securities class action, representing a class of investor plaintiffs in Texas, in a $1 billion Ponzi scheme against the perpetrators of the scheme and those who aided and abetted the scheme. All motions to dismiss were defeated. DeJong is also said to be doing “a surprisingly high amount of IP work. Keith Dubanevich represents the plaintiffs and a class of customers of virtual reception services Ruby Receptionists. The case alleges that the defendant breached its contract with its customers when it rounded up the time billing in 30-second increments and when it billed for time a call was on hold. The case settled on the eve of the January 2021 trial date. Dubanevich was also appointed liaison counsel to the plaintiffs and putative class of people who were impacted by a data breach at Premera Blue Cross, Blue Shield. A class-action case was filed seeking damages and injunctive relief. After years of litigation, the case settled for more than $32 million and the court granted final approval of the settlement.