Case Study

Practice Areas

Who Decides Question of Lake Access?

Representing the City of Lake Oswego, Tonkon Torp trial lawyers Paul Conable and Steve Olson successfully obtained dismissal of a federal district court lawsuit challenging a City ordinance prohibiting access to Oswego Lake from city property. Oswego Lake has been maintained for decades by a nonprofit corporation of homeowners.
At the heart of the matter is the question of whether the City may, based on concerns for public health and safety, reasonably prohibit access to the lake from its public parks. Because the parks were not designed to provide safe access to the lake, the City is concerned about safety risks and potential liability that would arise with access. Plaintiffs disregard these concerns and risks, and demand unfettered access to the lake from the City's property. 
The City moved to dismiss the federal lawsuit on arguments that the case could not proceed without a necessary party—the State of Oregon—who could not be sued in federal court. Judge Ancer Haggerty agreed, and dismissed the case.
Plaintiffs subsequently filed suit in Clackamas County Circuit Court, naming the State of Oregon as a defendant. The Lake Oswego Corporation joined the case. This high-profile, politically-charged case is set for trial in early 2014.

Photo courtesy of Lake Oswego Library.

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