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Oregon starts appeals of $1 billion timber verdict

by OPB 12/26/19

The Oregon Department of Justice wants a new trial in the landmark $1 billion Linn County timber case.

In November, a jury in Linn County ruled that the state breached its contract with 13 rural counties by failing to generate enough revenue through logging on state-owned forests. Jurors awarded more than $1 billion in damages.

But on Friday, state lawyers filed paperwork asking a judge to either reverse the juryís decision or order a new trial. Attorneys with the Oregon Department of Justice pointed to what they say are dozens of errors made before, during and after the trial.

They questioned the courtís decision to allow the case to go to trial in the first place, arguing that the 1941 Forest Acquisition Act did not establish a formal contract between Oregon and its counties. They also contend that Oregon counties cannot sue the state for money.

State leaders had indicted their plans to appeal if they lost even before the verdict. Itís not clear where Oregon lawmakers will find the money to cover what is owed counties if state appeals fail.


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