Jim Chaney: career history and highlights

Mr. Chaney began his career as a trial lawyer in California in the 1980’s; he moved to Eugene with his family in 1991, going to work for the longtime Eugene firm of Jaqua & Wheatley, P.C. as an associate. He became a shareholder in the firm on January 1, 1994, where he remained until organizing The Chaney Firm LLC on January 1, 2003.

Since coming to Oregon, Mr. Chaney has tried a variety of matters to jury verdict, ranging from straightforward automobile collisions involving claims of soft tissue injury, to complex multiple-death accident cases. He has developed a particular emphasis in construction defect matters, most notably those involving claims of water intrusion, mold infestation and so-called “sick building syndrome”, and in defense of accident claims involving tractor/trailers.

Chaney has continued the Lane County tradition of involvement in statewide bar matters, having served on the Oregon Bench/Bar Professionalism Commission, chairing that body in 1999, and presently serving as an elected delegate to the OSB House of Delegates. A more formal resume is available on this site.

His recent or otherwise notable Oregon trial results include the following:

Cook Farms v. Kropf, et. al. — In this 2013 weeklong insurance subrogation jury trial, plaintiffs’ insurer sought to recoup over $800,000 in damages, which represented payments to its insured as a result of the total loss of a hay barn in a fire; the defense successfully limited recovery to approximately $430,000.

Johnson v. Miller — Two-week 2007 jury trial in Curry County involving allegations that a family living in rental housing had developed a complex of symptoms related to exposure to mold, seeking millions of dollars in damages. Most of plaintiffs’ medical experts were excluded from testifying by pretrial motion. Judgment upheld without opinion by the Oregon Court of Appeals.

Corvallis Country Club v. American Golf Corporation — 2004 arbitration, in which the board of a local country club sought to have a newly-negotiated 25-year management agreement invalidated; the agreement was upheld by the unanimous vote of a three-arbitrator panel after a three day arbitration.

Berger v. Vila – In this 2002 federal case tried before the Honorable Thomas Coffin which drew national press coverage, a gentleman was accused of battery by another passenger in the first class cabin of a United Airlines flight to Eugene. The jury returned its unanimous defense verdict on May 23, 2002; costs of several thousand dollars were collected in full.
Elliot-Head v. Shinn – Plaintiff claimed that this rear-end accident caused ruptured two cervical disks. In spite of fairly clear liability, development on behalf of the defense of inconsistencies in plaintiff’s story about her injuries led to an outright, and unanimous, defense verdict (April 26, 2001) in the Lane County courtroom of the Honorable Maurice Merten.
Veillaux v. Wright – Unanimous defense verdict in a highway pullout claim; the defense developed expert testimony proving that plaintiff’s claims regarding distances and lines of sight were impossible. (February 23, 2001)
US/LTA, et. al. v. British Aviation Insurance Group – William Wheatley and James Chaney tried this case together in Lane County on behalf of the successful plaintiffs; we proved that an airship, which suffered an inflight crash in New York City, was a total loss within the meaning of defendant’s hull policy. The result was the entry of a judgment in excess of $4 million on our clients’ behalf.
Lara v. M&C, Inc. – Black ice trucking case involving two deaths and numerous injuries, arising in Klamath County, but tried in the Lane County courtroom of the Honorable Lyle Velure. Chaney developed and presented expert testimony regarding the formation of black ice and its effect on control inputs, resulting in a defense verdict on a finding that his client driver was not negligent in his loss of control.

While effective trial work is the heart of any civil litigation practice, the development and use of  innovative settlement strategy is crucial in the right case. Mr. Chaney’s settled matters over the past few years include the following:

Beardsley v. Pioneer Resources, et. al. – Wheeler County forest fire case involving claims by over two dozen plaintiffs aggregating over $20 million.  Case settled within policy limits on behalf of the defendant logger, after a multiple-session mediation before the Honorable Lyle Velure of the Lane County Circuit Court, which was arranged at Mr. Chaney’s request.

Lovelace v. Mt. Hood Beverage Company, et. al.– High profile hit and run death case involving a 12-year-old girl, and pronounced community interest and concern. In this state court case, Mr. Chaney arranged a multiple-session mediation before the Honorable Ann Aiken of the United States District Court, which ultimately resulted in a global seven-figure settlement.

Pearl Lofts Homeowners Association v. Western Partitions, et. al. – Aggressive motion practice in this Multnomah County condominium defect case (water intrusion through EIFS) led to settlement on behalf of the EIFS applicator for significantly less than $100,000, out of a total settlement in excess of $1.5 million.

Finally, these reported opinions have come from the appellate side of Mr. Chaney’s practice:

Gaspar v. Village Missions, 154 Or. App. 286 (1998) (successful limitations defense on claim of psychological injury against minister); Fields v. Jantec, 317 Or. 432 (1993) (seminal opinion regarding extension of worker’s compensation exclusivity remedy to prior business owner);Marriage and Family Center v. Superior Court, 228 Cal. App. 3d 1647 (1991) (successful limitations defense, answering questions of when claim against psychotherapist accrued).