Services & Industries
J.D., University of Oregon School of Law, Order of the Coif
B.A., with distinction in major, Colorado College
Bar and Court Admissions
Oregon State Bar
Washington State Bar Association
U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit
U.S. Supreme Court
Chris is a partner in Tonkon Torp’s Litigation Department and co-chairs the firm’s Financial Services & Investment Management Practice Group. As a trial lawyer, Chris has tried eight- and nine-figure cases to verdict with juries and judges in federal and state court. Chris has a wide-ranging practice that centers on finding solutions and offering strategic guidance for complex business disputes. In addition to trying cases, Chris represents businesses in enforcing and defending their trade secrets and trade dress, responding to regulatory investigations (at the federal, state, and agency levels), and helping to minimize risks while maximizing returns in a pragmatic manner.
Chris is a past president of the Oregon Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. He joined Tonkon Torp after a clerkship with U.S. District Judge Edward C. Reed, Jr., in Nevada. Prior to practicing law, Chris worked as a staff analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank and as a financial analyst at a regional credit union with over $1 billion in assets.
Chris has tried a variety of trade secret cases to federal juries, ranging from software companies to bread bakeries. Recently, Chris successfully first-chaired the trial of a nine-figure dispute over claimed trade secrets in software platforms. Chris also second-chaired a trial defending a client from accusations of trade secret misappropriation, ultimately obtaining a complete victory for the client on appeal. Short of trial, he also helped to defend a local manufacturer against a competitor’s claims for misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of a license agreement, knocking out a substantial portion of the competitor’s claims on summary judgment, and enabling the case to settle.
Sale of Form Factory, Inc.
Tonkon Torp represented its client, Form Factory, Inc., a retail cannabis processor, in all aspects of its sale to Acreage Holdings, Inc., a publicly traded company in Canada, in an all-stock merger transaction valued at $160 million. The transaction was extremely complicated and included Oregon Liquor Control Commission licensing and other regulatory issues, complicated Delaware statutory structures, Canadian securities law considerations, complex subsidiary ownership and joint ventures, and numerous third parties.
Breach of Commercial Lease
Chris assisted in representing the landlord when a commercial tenant sought to terminate its lease, helping the client to settle favorably with its lender and obtaining a substantial payment from its tenant.
Breach of Contract
When a Los Angeles-based finance company sued a client for a business venture that fell through, Chris helped navigate a procedural morass, ultimately obtaining a preliminary injunction against the LA-company and later second-chairing the trial of the matter, which resulted in both the dismissal of a $50 million claim against the client and a judgment of almost $2 million in favor of the client.
Breach of Contract
When a national chain sued a family-owned company for breach of a service contract, Chris represented the family-owned company, eventually helping to settle the case favorably for the client.
Chris has helped clients respond to requests and investigations from various governmental divisions and regulatory agencies. This includes representing a retailer in defense of an unfair trade practices claim brought by a State, directors of a bank from a complaint by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and principals of an investment company from SEC inquiries and investigations.
In a construction defect case of a proposed high-end condominium project, Chris helped represent the owner, which recovered a substantial settlement through mediation.
After an employee voluntarily quit a company, the employee had difficulty obtaining a new job. Believing that his former employer was spreading rumors about him, the employee sued for defamation. Chris mounted a vigorous defense of the claim and succeeded in getting the case dismissed at summary judgment.
When a former employee sued a client for age discrimination under Washington and Federal law, Chris led the defense of the case, drafting and arguing a motion for summary judgment in federal court that led to a decision in the client’s favor.
In an action where an out-of-state client was sued in Oregon for a joint venture gone awry, Chris took the lead in defending the case, which was ultimately dismissed.
When a large regional accounting firm was sued for malpractice, Chris defended the firm in arbitration, obtaining a complete defense verdict.
When a beneficiary of a family trust challenged the provisions of that trust, Chris represented the professional trustee and co-chaired a four-day bench trial, which resulted in a judgment upholding the trust.
Condominium Project Representation
Represented the purchaser of a troubled green condominium project in North Portland. This Multnomah County Circuit Court case involved over 20 parties, including the architect, general contractor, subcontractors and suppliers. The building, although brand new, experienced significant construction defects, including a prematurely failed roof and acoustic separation issues. The case was ultimately settled following a series of joint expert investigations and a comprehensive mediation process.
In re Lumber Products, Inc.
(Bankr. D. Or.) – Lumber Products was a manufacturer and distributor of building products. Tonkon represented the company in its Chapter 11 case. The company was sold through a 363 sale and a plan was confirmed within six months of the petition date.
When a local company expanded into a new market, a competitor accused the client of infringing on the competitor’s trade dress. Chris helped defend the client’s packaging, prevailing on summary judgment, and then helping to defend the decision successfully on appeal.
A recent dispute between a Tonkon Torp client and a Los Angeles-based finance company was the very definition of “complex commercial litigation.” The case involved a structured finance transaction documented through multiple agreements among multiple parties. Untangling the deal gave Tonkon Torp’s litigators an opportunity to demonstrate their value.
The process to acquire, complete and sell the Mississippi Avenue Lofts involved a broad range of legal transactions from Tonkon Torp, including a funding round, multi-party loan and purchasing agreements, litigation and a final sale. Find the details and more featured cases here.
In April 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down non-unanimous jury convictions in criminal cases in Ramos v. Louisiana. A shameful carryover from the Jim Crow era, Louisiana and Oregon were the last two states that allowed non-unanimous criminal convictions when as many as two jurors believed a defendant was innocent. Overnight, more than 260 cases in Oregon became eligible to seek post-conviction relief for unconstitutional non-unanimous convictions. Housed in the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic (CJRC) at Lewis & Clark Law School, the Ramos Project is a statewide pro-bono initiative providing legal assistance to those seeking redress.
Community Involvement & Activities
Federal Bar Association, Oregon Chapter
2016-2017, Vice President
Portland Business Alliance
Leadership Portland Class of 2015
American Bar Association
Federal Bar Association
Multnomah Bar Association
Fifty-three Tonkon Torp lawyers representing 39 practice areas have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2022
Twenty-six Tonkon Torp attorneys in nine practice areas have been included in the 2021 Oregon Super Lawyers or Rising Stars lists.
Tonkon Torp hosted a virtual informational session for the Greater Portland Compliance Association (GPCA). Attorneys from Tonkon Torp’s Financial Services & Investment Management and Information Privacy & Security groups provided a comprehensive briefing for chief compliance officers for investment advisers and broker dealers.
Forty-nine Tonkon Torp lawyers representing 36 practice areas have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2021. A majority of attorneys have been named to the peer-review list in past years, and most have been recognized for more than five years.
Twenty-six Tonkon Torp attorneys in nine practice areas have been included in the 2020 Oregon Super Lawyers or Rising Stars lists. Tonkon Torp partner and bankruptcy authority Albert N. Kennedy has been once again recognized on the Top 50 list of lawyers rated most highly by their peers statewide.
By Chris Pallanch and Jessica Morgan – On March 30, 2022, the Security and Exchange Commission’s Division of Examinations announced its fiscal year 2022 examination priorities. This year’s theme is empowering compliance officers. Once again, the Division’s priorities fit into several broad categories.
On March 3, 2021, the Security and Exchange Commission’s Division of Examinations (formerly the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, now either “the Division” or “EXAMS”) announced its fiscal year 2021 examination priorities.
It seems as though products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are everywhere – in supermarkets, health food stores, gyms, even the corner convenience store. And CBD can come in almost every product, regardless of the shape or size: oil, toothpicks, dog treats, beverages, lotions, creams, bath bombs, gummies, and coffee, to name but a few.
So, can you ship hemp across state lines now? Not without risk. The 2018 Farm Bill makes it possible to produce hemp in some states without violating federal law. Nevertheless, uncertainty remains for the hemp industry, as shown by recent efforts to ship hemp from one state to another.
On June 21, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States invalidated the process that the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) had been using to appoint administrative law judges. Staff from the SEC had selected administrative law judges as “employees” of the Commission through a hiring process. Last Thursday, the Supreme Court held that SEC administrative law judges were “officers of the United States” and therefore subject to appointment only by the president, courts, or agency heads.
Publications & Presentations
“SEC Division of Examinations Announces 2021 Priorities,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, March 2021
“Compliance and Enforcement Update,” Greater Portland Compliance Association, October 2020
“Managing Investment Adviser Compliance in the Global Pandemic,” May 2020
Podcast, “CBD’s ‘Patchwork’ Regulatory Scheme is Causing Confusion. What are the Facts?” Portland Business Journal, October 2019
“What You Need to Know About Buying and Selling Products Containing Cannabidiol (CBD),” Portland Business Journal, September 2019
“CBD Business and Regulation Focus – The 2018 Farm Bill,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, February 2019
“Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations Priorities,” Greater Portland Compliance Association, September 2018
“Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, April 2018
“Vulnerable Person Abuse Protections Coming to FINRA in 2018,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, February 2018
“SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations Priorities for 2018,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, February 2018
“New ‘Financial Abuse’ Mandatory Reporting Requirements for Oregon Investment Adviser Representatives,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, January 2018
“DOL Fiduciary Rule Delayed for 60 Days,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, April 2017
“Compliance and Enforcement Update,” Greater Portland Compliance Association, October 2017
“Social Media and GPS Location Information,” Oregon Association of Defense Counsel, June 2017
“Temporary Guidance for Fiduciary Rule Compliance,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, March 2017
“Fiduciary Rule’s Status Uncertain,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, February 2017
“Important Developments in e-Discovery,” Oregon Association of Defense Counsel, June 2016
“The PAGA Problem: The Unsettled State of PAGA Law Isn’t Good for Anyone,” Bender’s California Labor & Employment Bulletin, July 2013