Steven Olson

Steven Olson

Attorney

503.802.2159
steven.olson@tonkon.com

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Services & Industries

Education

J.D., magna cum laude, University of Minnesota Law School

M.P.H., with honors, Tulane University, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

B.S., Dean’s List, United States Coast Guard Academy

Bar & Court Admissions

Oregon State Bar
Washington State Bar Association
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
U.S. Bankruptcy Court – Western District of Washington

Steve is the past Co-Chair of Tonkon Torp’s Litigation Department. He has a broad range of commercial litigation experience representing companies, shareholders, and business professionals in cases involving contract disputes, business torts, shareholders disputes, unlawful trade practices, environmental matters, injunctions, product defects, and real estate transactions.

Steve’s experience includes litigation and trial work in federal and state courts, as well as in private arbitration and mediation. Steve has served a broad client base including, among others, The Greenbrier Companies, Nike, the City of Lake Oswego, and Costco in disputes in Oregon and across the country.

Before becoming a lawyer, Steve served six years as an officer in the United States Coast Guard. He spent time at sea, and then managing the Port of New Orleans. In his leisure time, Steve enjoys playing and coaching sports, cooking, travelling, and most importantly, spending time with his wife and daughters.

Representative Matters

Hazardous Waste (RCRA) Violation Defense

Defended a large manufacturing client against multiple hazardous waste violation claims by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, resulting in a reduction of almost $200,000 in assessed violations.

Land Use

Represented a large industrial landowner in a series of appeals successfully challenging the City of Portland's North Reach River Plan ordinance as failing to comply with Oregon's statewide land use planning goals and the City's own comprehensive plan. (Land Use Board of Appeals, Oregon Court of Appeals, Oregon Supreme Court)

Lumber Mill Redevelopment

Counseled clients in the decommissioning of old lumber mills in Oregon, Idaho and Montana and preparing them for different land use.

Offsetting Civil Penalties Through Supplemental Environmental Projects

Successfully negotiated reductions and settlements of environmental enforcement actions, including offsetting penalties by supplemental environmental projects.

Confidential

(Multnomah County Circuit Court) – Successfully assert claims for breach of judicial dissolution, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of shareholder agreement seeking damages of $6.0 million.  

McLean v. Saltchuk, King County Superior Court

Represents three brothers who sold their family trucking business in several proceedings in both court and arbitration. The claims involve indemnity and other issues under a Stock Purchase Agreement, real estate matters, professional malpractice and taxation.

Stimson Lumber Co. v. International Paper Co.

In Montana, assisted Stimson in the negotiation and implementation of an administrative order for the $6 million cleanup and removal of a PCB-contaminated cooling pond formerly owned by Stimson. Successfully asserted claims against prior owners of the cooling pond under CERCLA, recovering past and future cleanup costs.

Kramer v. City of Lake Oswego

Tonkon Torp represents the City of Lake Oswego, Oregon in a lawsuit concerning ownership of and access to Oswego Lake. After Tonkon's lawyers were successful in moving to have the case dismissed in federal court, the lawsuit is now pending in Oregon state court.

Port of Arlington v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Tonkon Torp represents the Port of Arlington, Oregon in ongoing federal court litigation arising out of the Corps' revocation of the Port's permit to build a dock facility in the Columbia River.

City of Portland v. Severn Trent Systems

Successfully asserted claims of nearly $50 million on behalf of the City of Portland arising out of defects in the new utilities software billing system.

Eagle Industries v. Hangsterfer Labs

Asserted product defect claims against industrial coolant manufacturer seeking damages of nearly $2 million. Obtained favorable settlement.

McGeady v. Kolbe-Kolbe Manufacturing

Obtained a jury verdict following a two week trial on defective product and failure to warn claims.

Crandall v. Rajaratnam

Obtained a favorable award following a week-long arbitration on claims of recession and damages relating to the purchase and sale of real estate.

Hawkins v. Stimson Lumber

Successfully defend against statutory and common law claims arising from serious workplace injury.

Greenbrier Leasing v. Albany & Eastern RR

Successfully asserting claims for breach of contract and promissory estoppel seeking damages of $1.5 million arising from failure to honor lease obligations.

Thomas Whiteman, et al. v. David Evans & Associates, Inc.

(Clackamas County Circuit Court) – Successfully defend breach of contract claims and assert breach of fiduciary duty claims against past officers and shareholders.

Valentine Walker Properties v. Tri-Way Industries

Representing Tri-Way Industries in the defense of statutory and common law claims for environmental contamination seeking damages of over $5 million for damages allegedly caused by Tri-Way's business operations.

Feltsan v. Cleanpak International

Successfully defend claims for negligence and premise liability brought by injured work seeking damages of $1.5 million.

Parker v. Seaswirl Boats

Successfully defending claims of warranty and defective product involving the purchase and sale of a yacht.

Trotter v. Union Pacific

Successfully defend third-party claims seeking indemnity and contribution for damages arising from a serious workplace injury involving the loss of limb.

Alien Tort Claim Act

Successfully asserted Alien Tort Claim Act and human trafficking claims brought by an Ethiopian woman against her captor.

Beal v. Kerr-Cruickshank Inc.

Obtained a multi-million dollar jury verdict in a state court trial arising out of the client's losses in an investment fund (Beal v. Kerr-Cruickshank Inc., Case No. 1106-07241). "Jury says it matters what investment firms say to clients when an adviser leaves," Oregonian, August 4, 2012.

City of Lake Oswego

Successfully defended the City of Lake Oswego in federal and state court lawsuits involving disputes about the ownership of Oswego Lake.

City of Portland

Successfully asserted claims on behalf of the City of Portland arising out of defects in a new utilities software billing system.

Damages Of Over $3M

Successfully asserted claims for breach of fiduciary duty, dissolution, and minority shareholder oppression seeking damages of over $3M.

Defective Professional Services

Successfully asserted claims for breach of contract and warranty seeking damages of $4.2M caused by defective professional services.

Fiduciary Duty & Contract Claims

Successfully asserted breach of fiduciary duty and contract claims brought against a corporate director and public utilities company.

Injunction Claims

Successfully asserted and defended against injunction claims involving non-competition, non-solicitation, and confidentiality agreements.

Judgment Against Dissenters’ Rights

Won summary judgment against dissenters’ rights and breach of fiduciary duty claims seeking nearly $3M.

National Sporting Goods

Won summary judgment against disability discrimination claims brought against a national sporting goods and apparel company.

Nebraska Train Derailment

Won summary judgment against a nearly $15M claim arising out of a train derailment in Nebraska.

Oregon Manufacturer

Successfully defended a large Oregon manufacturer in several lawsuits brought in courts across the country involving train derailments allegedly caused by defective products.

Oregon Timber Company

On behalf of a large Oregon timber company, recovered millions of dollars in costs arising from the cleanup of a Montana mill that was contaminated by a prior owner.

Ponzi Scheme

Successfully asserted claims against a brokerage house and investment firm brought by a group of investors who lost millions of dollars in connection with a Ponzi scheme.

Portland City Ordinance

On behalf of a large manufacturer, successfully challenged a controversial Portland city ordinance, Riverplan, which would have significantly hampered development in Portland’s industrial sanctuary.

Real Estate Transaction

Obtained a favorable arbitration award against rescission and damages claims arising out of a real estate transaction.

Timber Company

Obtained a defense verdict against wrongful discharge and retaliation claims brought against a large timber company.

Burlington Northern & Santa Fe RR v. Gunderson, Inc.

Prevailed on summary judgment against a nearly $15 million claim filed in Texas arising out of a train derailment in Nebraska.

Confidential

Successfully defend contract rescission claims and successfully assert breach of fiduciary duty claims seeking damages of $3 million.

Products Liability

Successfully defended a large manufacturing company against products liability and breach of warranty claims filed in the U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska by establishing that plaintiff's alleged losses were caused by a component part manufacturer and by plaintiff's own negligence.

Union Pacific RR v. Greenbrier Rail Services

Representing a railcar manufacturer in a series of related lawsuits arising from train derailments in Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming. Plaintiff alleges that products manufactured by Greenbrier failed, causing damages in excess of $10 million.

Confidential

(United States District Court, District of Oregon) – Prevailed on summary judgment against dissenters' rights and breach of fiduciary duty claims seeking nearly $3,000,000. 

Symbol Technologies v. Continuum Technology

(USDC, E. NY) – Successfully assert claims for breach of contract and preliminary and permanent injunction arising from unauthorized use of bar code technologies.

Entitlement to Insurance Coverage

Upheld grant of judgment establishing entitlement to insurance coverage for a multi-car train derailment. (Texas Appellate Court)

Union Pacific RR v. Greenbrier Rail Services

Representing a railcar manufacturer in a series of related lawsuits arising from train derailments in Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming. Plaintiff alleges that products manufactured by Greenbrier failed, causing damages in excess of $10 million.

Pixelvision v. Voxtel

(Multnomah County Circuit Court) – Successfully assert claims of breaches of contract and fiduciary duties seeking damages of nearly $4 million arising from failure to deliver securities.  

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.

Oregon Jury Says Investors’ Interests Must Come First

When a registered investment advisor leaves an investment firm, the two parties often negotiate who retains the advisor’s clients and management of the associated investment assets. While such horse trading is a common industry practice, it clouds the issue of fiduciary duty owed to the investor. Who is responsible for acting in the client’s best interests? What information must the investment firm share with the investor?

Compelling Arguments About River Plan Produce Positive Results for Business

Thanks to the work of Tonkon Torp lawyers and others, industrial businesses affected by the City of Portland’s River Plan/North Reach saw their concerns validated by a January 21 ruling of the state Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). LUBA sent the River Plan, which would significantly restrict development in the “industrial sanctuary” along a 12-mile stretch of the Willamette River, back to the Portland City Council for additional work.

Tonkon Torp Harvests Victory for Oregon Radish Seed Farmers

Tonkon Torp represented 45 Northwest farmers in a dispute with an East Coast commercial bank over who should receive the proceeds from the sale of the farmers’ radish seed crop. Find details and more featured cases here.

Tonkon Torp Litigators Win Judgment on Lake Oswego Access Question

A prolonged, high-profile dispute about public access to Oswego Lake was resolved recently when Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Henry Breithaupt issued an opinion upholding the City of Lake Oswego’s right to control access to the lake from the City’s public park.

Tonkon Torp Wins Appellate Victory in Lake Oswego Access Dispute

Tonkon Torp litigators won a remarkable victory at the Oregon Court of Appeals in the ongoing high-profile dispute regarding public access to Oswego Lake. Here are the details.

Tonkon Torp Wins Appellate Victory in Auto Insurer Case

Tonkon Torp recently achieved a complete appellate win on behalf of its client, Leif Hansen, in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2018, Tonkon Torp attorneys Steve Olson, Paul Conable, and Meg Houlihan represented Hansen individually and in a proposed class action against his auto insurer, GEICO, for refusing to pay for digital scans of his truck as part of the truck’s repair following a collision. Hansen sued for breach of contract under his insurance policy and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The federal district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. That dismissal prompted an appeal to the Ninth Circuit, which was led by Bob Koch and Meg Houlihan.

Community Involvement & Activities

Oregon State Bar
Practice and Procedure Committee
Executive Committee
Business Litigation Section
Executive Committee
Products Liability Section
Executive Committee

Jesuit High School
Volunteer and Fundraising

Catholic Charities
Immigration Legal Services

Southeast Legal Clinic
Pro Bono Volunteer

All Saints School
Volunteer and Fundraising

Portland Business Alliance
Leadership Portland


Professional Memberships

American Association for Justice
Federal Bar Association
Multnomah Bar Association
Owen M. Panner Inn of Court

The Best Lawyers in America

2013-2023, Commercial Litigation

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Super Lawyers

2009, Oregon Rising Star – Business Litigation

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Best Lawyers in America® Includes 53 Tonkon Torp Attorneys on 2023 List

Fifty-three Tonkon Torp lawyers representing 37 practice areas have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2023. Nearly all the attorneys have been previously named to the peer-review list, and most have been listed for more than 10 years.

Tonkon Torp Unveils Shareholder Disputes & Governance Practice Group

Tonkon Torp has launched a new practice group, Shareholder Disputes & Governance.

Best Lawyers in America® Includes 53 Tonkon Torp Attorneys on 2022 List

Fifty-three Tonkon Torp lawyers representing 39 practice areas have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2022

Best Lawyers in America® Includes 49 Tonkon Torp Attorneys on 2021 List

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.

2020 List for Best Lawyers in America® Includes 48 Tonkon Torp Attorneys

Forty-eight Tonkon Torp lawyers representing 39 practice areas have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2020. A majority of attorneys have been named to the list in past years, and most have been recognized for more than five years.

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Publications & Presentations

“Litigation 101: When Solid Business Plans Go Awry,” Daily Journal of Commerce, May 2013

“Venue,” Oregon Civil Pleading and Practice, 6th edition. Oregon State Bar, April 2012