Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Port of Astoria Settles Malpractice Suit

The Port of Astoria has reportedly settled a malpractice lawsuit it had filed against one of its former attorneys.

A decision to settle the case was made Aug. 23 by the port, according to the Daily Astorian newspaper.

The litigation had been brought against attorney Heather Reynolds because of Reynolds’ failure to notify former port insurers about petroleum contamination on port property. The lack of disclosure was related to the port attempting to secure insurance.

Multiple former port tenants, including Exxon and Mobil Oil, stored petroleum on port property in the past. Contamination includes an area south of Slip 2, where an underground pipe ruptured, leaking petroleum into the ground.

The port is currently negotiating with the oil companies, insurers and the Department of Environmental Quality on how to clean up the contamination.

The Daily Astorian reports the commission accepted a lawsuit settlement of $50,000, but rather than Reynolds having to pay up, the money would come from the Oregon State Bar’s liability fund.

The port commission is continuing a malpractice case against another of its former attorneys, Mike Lilly, who had specialized in environmental cleanup issues.

“I think it was the prudent thing to do,” one of the port’s lawyers, Thane Tienson, told the newspaper. “We’ll go forward and concentrate our efforts against Mike Lilly. He is the person who was hired expressly for his expertise in environmental law, including environmental insurance.”