by: Matthew Kirkpatrick
On July 16, 2019, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum hosted Consumer Law Section members for a lunch and discussion of consumer law issues. Many Section members joined Department of Justice attorneys and law clerks to share their areas of practice and DOJ’s consumer protection activities. Attorney General Rosenblum and Kelly Harpster—Attorney in Charge of DOJ’s Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection Section (and a former Chair of the Consumer Law Section)— highlighted some of the DOJ’s efforts over the past year to stop fraudulent business activities in Oregon and recover consumer losses. DOJ activities include litigation and settlements or judgments in cases against predatory and deceptive student lenders, violators of data privacy laws, an auto manufacturer that violated environmental regulations, a deceptive car dealership, and consumer finance and health care litigation. It also has ongoing litigation against Purdue Pharma for deceptively promoting OxyContin. Several of the DOJ’s recent cases are highlighted in an August 11, 2019 website post, available at https://consumerlaw.osbar.org/2019/08/11/oregon-doj-consumer-protection-section-settlement-and-litigation-highlights/. Additional information about the DOJ’s consumer protection activities, including the Consumer Hotline and the searchable consumer Complaints Database, can be found on the DOJ’s website at https://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer-protection.
During the lunch, Attorney General Rosenblum presented Section member David Sugerman with the inaugural Consumer Law Section Award of Merit. The Award of Merit recognizes Sugerman’s more than three decades working to help low-income consumers in Oregon. Sugerman was lead counsel in prosecuting and winning a $409 million consumer fraud class action case against BP for illegal debit card charges to consumers, an $85 million federal court win for Oregon veterans poisoned in Iraq by defense contractor KBR, and a multi-million-dollar settlement against Comcast for illegally charging cable TV late fees, among many other high-impact cases. The cy pres provisions of the BP settlement will provide $33 million to Legal Aid Services of Oregon and an additional $33 million to establish a new non-profit dedicated to furthering consumer protection in Oregon. Sugerman also serves on the Board of Directors of Public Justice, and is active with the ACLU and National Association of Consumer Advocates. He received the Oregon State Bar President’s Award in 2008 and was admitted to the American Board of Trial Advocates in 2011.
Fittingly, after more than seven and a half years of litigation, trial, and appeals in the Scharfstein v. BP case, settlement funds were received and the cy pres trusts funded on July 16, 2019, the same day Sugerman received the Section’s Award of Merit. Congratulations David and thank you for all of your efforts on behalf of Oregon consumers.
The Oregon State Bar Consumer Law Section also would once again like to thank the Attorney General and Department of Justice for hosting this year’s lunch and for their ongoing work to promote justice for consumers in Oregon.