I was the lead liability lawyer on multiple wrongful death and personal injury actions arising out of a deadly debris torrent in the Oregon Coast Range mountains. Clearcut logging operations on a state-identified high risk site above family homes led to a predictable result: during a storm, an entire hillside gave way. The torrent of mud, rock, water, and debris wiped away everything in its path, completely destroying one house, killing several persons, and injuring others. The site had been identified as “high risk” before the storm precisely because of this risk. After confidential settlements, these cases became the catalyst for improved forest management rules.
This case involved a Central Oregon man who worked at a mill in Deschutes County. The man was working on a green dryer that malfunctioned, resulting in an explosion which caused his death. Prosecution of the case included working with industrial and computer engineers to discover the cause of the control system defect that allowed the pressure to build to explosive levels. The case settled after the key engineer for the defendant company admitted in his deposition that the system was not designed in accordance with correct engineering principles.