Representative Cases

Hawn & Coughlin, LLP, in Bend, has taken a leading role in many of the most significant personal injury cases in Oregon. This page highlights just a few of our most prominent cases that have been highly publicized.

Contact us to arrange a free consultation about your specific case today.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

  • Traumatic brain injury: While on his way to his job at a lumber mill in the early morning hours, GB slowed for a deer crossing on Highway 97. The driver behind GB did not see the deer, and attempted to pass GB. Upon seeing the deer, the driver attempted to swerve back behind GB but clipped GB's vehicle, sending GB off the road. GB's car rolled and hit a tree, causing a concussion and nearly cutting off his left ear. While the ear healed, the concussion symptoms have lingered and caused GB to be unable to work at his job at the mill. We obtained the bad driver's insurance policy limits of $500,000 to compensate GB for his loss.
  • Approaching statute of limitations: OZ visited our firm with only weeks left until his statute of limitations would expire. After that time he would never again be able to settle with the insurance company. That company had offered him about $3,000 for almost two years. We were able to work with OZ and his potential employer to obtain wage loss damages on his behalf, and the insurance company ultimately paid its policy limits of $25,000 a couple weeks after OZ retained our firm to represent him. No other firms would represent him because of the impending statute of limitations.
  • Bicyclist injured by a car: A woman was critically injured while riding her bicycle. She was hit in the bicycle lane by a vehicle traveling in the same direction as the bicyclist. The bicyclist unfortunately suffered multiple serious injuries and fractures. The driver who struck her had a motor vehicle insurance policy with limits of $2.25 million. Hawn & Coughlin was able to get the driver's insurance company to pay the entire $2.25 million to compensate the client for her injuries and her pain and suffering.

Medical Malpractice

  • Wrongful death: Client went into St. Charles Emergency Room for anxiety and was found to have low levels of her prescription drug, Dilantin. While still in the Emergency Room, a prescription for Dilantin was electronically messaged to the St. Charles Pharmacy. The pharmacy tech took five vials of the wrong drug off the shelf. Instead of Dilantin, she chose Rocuronium, which causes a patient to become paralyzed and also paralyzes their diaphragm, which means they can't breathe within a few minutes. Rocuronium is used when administering anesthesia and an anesthesiologist is present to give the drug and place a breathing tube down the patient's throat to keep them from dying. The pharmacy tech erroneously mixed the wrong vials together, and the pharmacist who was supposed to check the tech's work missed the fact that the prescription was for Dilantin, but in fact Rocuronium had been mixed. The IV bag with the wrong drug was sent up to the patient's room, where the nurse started the IV flow into the patient. The nurse then failed to visually monitor the patient as she was supposed to, and failed to hook the patient up to cardiac monitoring and pulse oximetry. The nurse left the room and shut the door for a pre-scheduled fire drill in the Emergency Room. Meanwhile, the patient was becoming paralyzed limb by limb. Finally her diaphragm was paralyzed and she could not breathe. She died shortly thereafter. We reached a confidential settlement in a private mediation against St. Charles.
  • Unnecessary brain surgery: Client underwent a craniotomy based upon the pathologist's review of brain tissue. Pathologist had misread the brain tissue and diagnosed it as cancer, when in fact it was not. Following the craniotomy, client suffered speech difficulties, loss of memory and many other neurological symptoms. Hawn & Coughlin recovered $950,000 for client's injuries, and was able to structure the settlement such that client would have ongoing monthly payments securing her for the rest of her life.
  • Nursing failure to supervise: Patient recovering from an aneurysm fell out of bed due to nursing staff negligence at major Bend hospital. Nursing staff failed to keep bed rails raised and failed to adequately oversee patient who was a known fall risk. Patient suffered a broken hip, surgery and therapeutic recovery. Hawn & Coughlin was able to reach a settlement of $100,000 with the hospital's insurance company to compensate her for her pain and suffering associated with this event.
  • Psychologist's improper treatment of a client: Client sought treatment from male psychologist for her PTSD. Psychologist attempted to form an improper relationship with client, sat next to her on the couch, touched her leg and attempted to hold her hand. He ultimately restrained her when she attempted to leave his office. We reached a settlement with psychologist's insurance carrier in the amount of $190,000 for the client for her physical injuries and her pain and suffering damages.
  • Misdiagnosis of temporal arteritis: An elderly gentleman presented to urgent care and the emergency room with severe and sudden onset headaches, visual disturbances and scalp pain over a period of four days. He was discharged each time with the diagnosis of migraine headaches, despite a lack of history of migraine headaches. Proper tests such as a temporal biopsy were not performed, and the patient lost his eyesight. Previously a very independent and strong man, he is now reliant on his wife as a caregiver and essentially confined to his home. This outcome could have been avoided if the proper tests had been performed, leading to the proper diagnosis. Treatment could have curtailed the visual loss by treating the patient with steroids, but this was not done.
  • Exposure to potential infection: Jane Doe received a colonoscopy at St. Charles Medical Center. Obviously, she was not awake during the procedure. She awoke appropriately, but had intense gastrointestinal, flu-like symptoms for a few days after the procedure. She had underlying Crohn's disease, to which she attributed her symptoms. Approximately a month later, however, she received a letter from the CEO of St. Charles that informed her that the colonoscope used during her colonoscopy had not been properly sanitized after its use on prior patients. The letter also informed her that she should obtain Hepatitis and HIV testing to see whether the colonoscope had infected her. For obvious reasons, this frightened and upset her.
    • Ms. Doe came to see Jennifer Coughlin to see what, if any, course of legal action she should be taking against St. Charles. Ms. Coughlin took on the case, realizing it would be a difficult fight because the law in Oregon, with very narrow exceptions, requires that a person be physically injured in order to make a claim. In other words, people in Oregon generally cannot sue simply because they have mental anguish. They must have a physical injury which, in the legislature's mind, validates their mental distress. After reviewing Oregon and other state's case law, Jennifer decided to fight this battle. She filed a lawsuit against St. Charles.
    • The attorneys who represented St. Charles immediately filed a Motion asking the court to throw out the lawsuit because Ms. Doe had not actually been physically injured. Through a series of Motions and Hearings, the court ruled that in fact Ms. Doe did have a claim despite the fact that she didn't have actual physical injuries. Because the court ruled in Ms. Doe's favor, the case was able to continue. St. Charles and the manufacturer of the colonoscope cleaning machine settled for a confidential sum before the jury trial.

Dog Bite

  • Bitten in a public school: A girl in a public elementary school was bitten in the face by her teacher's German Shepherd, which the teacher was permitted to keep in her classroom during the school day. The young girl suffered permanent facial scarring as well as emotional scarring when she was bitten after trying to hug the dog goodbye. Pursuant to a state law that prohibits lawsuits against public employees personally, a lawsuit was filed against the school district. A favorable settlement was reached that has been put aside in a college fund for the girl.

Construction Site Accidents

  • Flagger hit by passing car: In November 2009, B.A. was working as a flagger on South Century Drive near Sunriver. The scene of the crash was a two-lane road with one lane in each direction. It was snowing and the road was icy and wet, and B.A. was standing on the north shoulder of South Century Drive. She had stopped westbound traffic and two vehicles were at a standstill in response to B.A.'s handheld stop sign. A driver approached the stopped vehicles, but failed to stop, and entered the right hand shoulder where her vehicle then hit B.A. B.A. suffered injuries to her neck and back and an injury to her right knee including a proximal medial fibular fracture, fractures of the lateral tibial plateau, and a medial meniscus tear.
    • Hawn & Coughlin recovered $30,000 for B.A. from the at-fault driver's insurance company, which was the maximum amount possible to recover under the at-fault driver's insurance policy.
    • B.A. had also purchased underinsured motorist coverage from her own insurance company. After months of negotiations by attorney Bruce Brothers, B.A.'s insurance company offered an inadequate amount to settle the claim. Mr. Brothers then represented B.A. in an arbitration against her own insurance company before a panel of three arbitrators, and was able to recover an additional $146,000 on B.A.'s behalf, plus his own attorney fees.

Civil Rights Litigation

  • Eddie Mays Jr. was booked into the Deschutes County jail while high on methamphetamine. Unfortunately this has become an epidemic and a majority Over the course of the next five hours his health declined. Video surveillance showed Mr. Mays writhing, jumping, laying down, and generally suffering in the holding cell while sheriff deputies looked on, laughed at him, mocked him and made fun of him. No request for medical evaluation or treatment was made. the nurse who was scheduled for that particular shift was on a pre-planned vacation and her shift did not get filled, as per policy. Mr. Mays internal organs shut down, and he died on the floor of the holding cell. After over a year of litigation, many depositions and a great deal of discovery being exchanged, the case was mediated and settled for $1,025,000. Now, the jail has instigated changes to hopefully avoid this in the future, such as having a nurse present at all times. Mr. Mays family has felt relief and vindication that hopefully another person who happens to be high, or is suffering from mental illness or is in need of medical help, will now receive it based upon them bringing to light to this young man's suffering and death.

Wrongful Death

  • Auto accident: The firm represented the widow of a man killed when a semi-truck struck a cow in the road. The truck lost control and crossed the center line. A lawsuit was brought against the trucking company for failing to keep a proper lookout, and against the owner of the cow. A successful settlement was reached after discovery had been taken.
  • Electrocution: A man was killed when he came into contact with a high voltage power line that was running through a tree in a campground. The man had climbed the tree in an attempt to retrieve a neighboring camper's cat. In violation of legal requirements, the high voltage power line ran in between the branches of the tree and next to the trunk. Despite many years of inspections, the power company never moved the wire or cut down the tree.
    • The widow hired our firm for herself and her children. A lawsuit was filed against, among others, the large multi-state power company. After complex discovery, the case settled favorably during a mediation conducted by a retired judge.

Wrongful Collections

  • Eileen V. contacted this office following receipt of a request for entry of default in a lawsuit that had been filed against her by a collections agency on behalf of St. Charles Medical Center. She had called other attorneys but could find no one willing to take her case because she had no money to pay an attorney. Our investigation revealed that her creditor, St. Charles, had billed her medical insurer for procedures she received and had been paid by that insurance company. The insurance company then requested a refund of the money it had paid to St. Charles, and St. Charles refunded the money but turned Eileen V.'s account over to the collection agency, which then filed a lawsuit.
    • The matter was subject to mandatory arbitration, wherein a number of issues, including payment of medical bills and the statute of limitations, were disputed. The arbitrator found in favor of our client, and awarded in excess of $27,000 to her for payment of attorney fees and costs.

Wrongful Denial Of Insurance Benefits

  • The firm was hired by a single mother who was being told that her own insurance company was refusing to pay for her medical bill. While the amount of the bill was relatively small, it was potentially devastating to the client. The firm sued the insurance company and obtained a judgment. The decision-maker found that the insurance company should have paid the bill, and required it not only to pay for the medical treatment, but also to pay for our client's attorney fees and the costs of bringing the case.
  • In the matter of Grijalva v. Safeco Insurance, the insurance carrier contended that the underinsured motorist coverage available to its insured was reduced by amounts paid to the driver of the vehicle in which she was a passenger. That had long been the way in which insurance carriers and the courts interpreted the law in Oregon. Bruce J. Brothers filed suit on behalf of Grijalva against her insurer, Safeco. The trial court entered judgment on behalf of Safeco. That award was upheld in the Court of Appeals. Brothers filed an appeal in the Oregon Supreme Court, where he was successful in convincing the court that a correct interpretation of the statutes and insurance policy allowed a reduction in benefits only for amounts paid directly to the injured party. As a consequence of this decision, injured parties throughout the state of Oregon are now entitled to recover the full amount of their underinsured motorist benefits without reduction for amounts paid to other injured parties.
  • In the case of North Pacific v. Hamilton, plaintiff Donald Hamilton was injured while a passenger in his own motor vehicle, which was being driven by his wife. Although there was a liability policy in effect that provided $60,000 in coverage, the policy also contained an exclusion limiting liability to a family member to the sum of $25,000. The trial court upheld the position of North Pacific Insurance, that it had no obligation to Hamilton beyond the $25,000 already paid. The Court of Appeals agreed. Brothers appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court, where the court agreed with Brothers that the policy exclusion was ambiguous and could not be enforced, thereby awarding Hamilton the full amount of the policy limits available.
  • In the matter of Country Mutual Insurance v. White, the insurance carrier contended that its liability limit of $100,000 was the total amount available to White. Brothers, on behalf of White, contended that limits of $1 million were available and filed a counterclaim against the insurance company. The trial court agreed with Brothers, and the insurance carrier appealed. The Court of Appeals agreed with Brothers and found that both the $100,000 policy, and an additional $1 million policy was available to White, resulting in a recovery of $1 million more than the insurance company contended was owing.
  • In the matter of D.B. v. Federated Rural Insurance Exchange, the underinsured motorist carrier insuring the truck that plaintiff's husband was driving when fatally injured contended that his estate was entitled to recover, at most, the $1 million in underinsured motorist limits purchased by husband's employer. Brothers contended that under Oregon law, underinsured limits must be equal to the liability limits purchased by the employer. The trial court agreed and ruled that $2 million in coverage was available, not $1 million as argued by the insurance carrier.
  • In the matter of Sheptow v. Geico, the insurance carrier contended that Sheptow, who was injured while driving his mother's car, was not entitled to PIP medical benefits because he was a family member and was not living in his mother's home, so was excluded from coverage. The trial court agreed with Brothers and awarded PIP benefits. Geico appealed the trial court's decision, and the Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed that Brothers' interpretation of Oregon law is correct.

These are just a few of the many hundreds of a cases handled over the years for the residents of the state of Oregon.

From offices in Bend, our attorneys represent clients in personal injury and insurance law matters in communities throughout Oregon. Contact us to arrange a free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer at our firm: 541-241-6991.