Tel: 208.235.1145 ext 101
AREAS OF PRACTICE
- Complex Commercial Litigation
- Product Liability Litigation
- Auto Accident Litigation
- Catastrophic Injury Litigation
- Wrongful Death Litigation
- Employment Litigation (including non-compete clauses, proprietary information, etc.)
Graduated from the University of Idaho Law School in 1975 and was admitted to practice before all State and Federal Courts in Idaho also in 1975.
ary has practiced law in Pocatello since 1975.As I enter my 65th year and 40th year in practice, I am still excited about the practice of law and improving my performance as a trial lawyer. I consider myself a trial lawyer. As of April 1, 2015, I have tried 72 jury trials, only a handful of which ended early in a mistrial or settlement. I have argued thirty eight (38) appeals before the Idaho Supreme Court, the Idaho Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. I like lawyers and generally get along well with my peers. I have been honored by the Idaho State Bar with a professionalism award and a service award. Although I am generally considered a defense lawyer, in only the second year it did so, the Idaho Trial Lawyers honored me by roasting me in 2014 in the Ying and Yang Affair after its annual meeting. In 2010 I was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL) and shortly thereafter into the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). One cannot apply for membership in those organizations. Those organizations accept members by invitation only and only after a stringent vetting process with lawyers who were on the other side and the judges who sat on the cases to make sure those invited into membership have the requisite experience and ethics to be called trial lawyers. Membership in the ACTL is limited to 1% of the licensed lawyers in the State. There were only 38 ACTL inducted members from Idaho in 2015, and only three new members were invited.
I used to try primarily auto accident cases as a defense lawyer, but no longer. Most insurance companies have taken that work in-house or refer such cases to firms who have negotiated special contracts to handle such cases. I am grateful for the experience because those are the cases where l learned the trial lawyer craft. The same principles I learned there still serve me today. However, the cases I handle today are much more complex. Products liability, construction defects, professional liability, insurance bad faith, commercial litigation, wrongful death, catastrophic injuries, intellectual property, employment contracts and non-competition/non-solicitation agreements are more often than not the subject matter. More and more I practice against lawyers who have rarely tried a jury trial. Motion practice and mediation are quickly replacing the jury trial. However, for anybody who needs a lawyer who can try a jury trial if it is not resolved by motion or mediation, you need to know that there are only a few of us old trial lawyers still trying cases to juries. I am writing this in June of 2015 and I have already tried three jury trials this year and I expect to try two or three more. I am not slowing down or looking to retire.
Although 75% of my cases are defending people and companies who have been sued, I also represent those that have been injured. I was one of the lead trial lawyers in a crop loss case involving thousands of acres of potatoes which were damaged by a herbicide used to control wild oats. The trial lasted more than five months and I learned more about evidence in that five months than I ever learned in law school. We represented the farmer and recovered a verdict in excess of a million dollars plus attorney fees and costs. I recovered a verdict in excess of a million dollars for a man who slipped and fell in the local Wal-Mart, causing a severe spinal injury which cut his career as a paving foreman short by many years. I have settled a lawyer malpractice case for an insurance company for $900,000, a wrongful death case for a young mother whose husband was killed in a motorcycle accident for $950,000, a wrongful death case for a father and husband killed in a motorcycle accident for $800,000, and a brain injury case for a father of young children crushed to the point of near suffocation for $2.6 Million, to name a few. I do not only take million dollar cases. I have also settled more cases than I can remember for less than $100,000 for those who were less catastrophically injured in a variety of ways by the negligence of others. I have always enjoyed trying to help those that have been injured by assuming some of the pressure of making a claim and letting them concentrate on healing and getting back to their lives.
Victories in defense cases are more difficult to measure. I have had my share of defense verdicts, but more often than not the measure of victory is how much was saved. With my experience and the knowledge of my opponents that I will take the case to trial, I have been able to negotiate reasonable settlements. In a product liability case four years ago I got a defense verdict which led to a favorable settlement for the same company in another product liability case involving substantially better liability and greater verdict potential. In another situation an insurance company paid substantial policy limits to the driver of a vehicle but asked me to defend the case brought by the passenger who was seriously injured. By taking a different approach on liability, I was able to establish through qualified experts that the accident did not occur as the investigating police officer had reported and we were able to settle the passenger’s claim for about 60% of the policy limit. In a recent jury trial, the plaintiff employer was adamant that my clients had breached their employment contracts, which included non-compete agreements, and as a result claimed damages of $1.2M. After an eleven day jury trial the jury found liability but awarded less than $200,000 in damages. Although generally an employer would recover attorney fees with such a verdict, the Court determined that nobody prevailed and denied attorney fees to the plaintiff employer because I had been successful in obtaining dismissal of so many of the originally plead claims on pre-trial motions. In another recent product liability case we were able to settle the Idaho cases for far less than the negotiated settlements in neighboring states because of our knowledge of Idaho law and experience in jury trials in this area.
Many may question whether I am over the hill at 65. I am not looking to become a mediator. I have known many great trial lawyers who tried some of their best cases after the age of 65 and I believe that I will also. I also understand that I will need help and an exit strategy at this age. I have hired an associate who is extremely talented. I am excited to mentor him and help him learn the craft of being a trial lawyer. If you retain us for your case you will meet and come to know J.D. Oborn. He is the future and I am confident he will meet the challenge.