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Journalist Sues Baker City Police Chief for First Amendment Retaliation

October 29, 2015
Contact: Cliff Davidson
Partner, 503.243.1653

PENDLETON, Ore. – Today, Sussman Shank LLP filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court (Pendleton Division) on behalf of journalist Brian Addison.  Mr. Addison's lawsuit alleges that the Baker City Police Chief Wyn Lohner, and officers under his command and direction, retaliated against Addison after he wrote an editorial criticizing the Baker City police in 2008.

Addison's editorial criticized the Baker City police for their use of drug-sniffing dogs at a widely-attended high school basketball game.  In his editorial, Addison suggested that this police action violated the Fourth Amendment.  In his complaint, Addison alleges that since the publication of his editorial, the Baker City police have subjected him to a series of harassing and economically damaging retaliatory actions.

In 2014, years after Addison's editorial, the Baker City police unlawfully contacted his new employer and suggested that Addison had a criminal background that made him unsuitable for employment. Addison has no criminal background beyond traffic tickets. He was subsequently fired as a result of this statement and review of an inaccurate "Fact File" that the police advised Addison's employer to obtain.

The Baker City police's conduct has left Addison unemployed and fearful of further retaliation. He is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, injunctive relief, and attorney's fees through his lawsuit.

"The right of journalists to report freely on government activity is crucial to our democracy," said Cliff Davidson, one of Addison's attorneys. "The actions of the Baker City police send a disturbing message to Baker City residents: if you criticize police here, you will be punished."

Cliff Davidson and Kristen Hilton are representing Brian Addison and are commercial litigators with Sussman Shank LLP.   

About Sussman Shank LLP
Founded in 1960 in Portland, Oregon, Sussman Shank is a full-service business, litigation, and commercial bankruptcy law firm with over 30 lawyers.  Our clients include public and private companies, government entities, institutions, non-profit organizations, and individuals.  While we are based in the Pacific Northwest, we frequently represent clients in court proceedings and business transactions throughout the country.  In 2015, Oregon Business Magazine named Sussman Shank as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon."

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