Kristin L. Olson
Recognized in:Commercial Litigation
Law School:University of Oregon
Location:1020 Southwest Taylor Street, Suite 400Portland, OR 97205
- University of Oregon , JD, graduated 2002
- Gonzaga University, BA, graduated 1999
- Oregon, 2003
- Washington, 2014
- U.S. District Court, District of Oregon
- Oregon Chapter, Federal Bar Association - Board of Directors
Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America for work in:
- Commercial Litigation
- Listed in Best Lawyers in America© for commercial litigation. No more than 5% of private practice lawyers nationwide are selected for this honor, which is based purely on peer review. (2019-present)
- Oregon Super Lawyers, Rising Star. No more than 2.5% of the lawyers in Oregon are selected for this honor. (2009-2013)
- Named as one of 25 "Up and Coming Lawyers" in the Daily Journal of Commerce. (2010)
- Recognized as one of the best litigation attorneys in Portland by Expertise, which selects just 20 litigation firms each year and evaluates attorneys based on reputation, credibility, experience, responsiveness to clients, and professionalism.
- Oregon - Court of Appeals
Kristin is a trial lawyer who practices business and commercial litigation. Kristin also represents injured individuals in the following kinds of cases:
Wrongful death and catastrophic injury
Product liability and defective products
Sexual abuse, including civil claims brought by victims of sex trafficking
Civil claims brought by crime victims
Assault and battery
Elder abuse and nursing home negligence
Trucking accidents; and
Tell us a little bit about your practice and what makes it unique.
- My practice is unique because I bring lawsuits on behalf of injured persons, and I also defend lawsuits on behalf of individuals and companies. Because I have experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants, I have developed a broad perspective that has sharpened my ability to anticipate the other side's arguments. Additionally, in an era of dwindling jury trials, I have first-chaired jury trials all over the state of Oregon. I don't just "litigate" cases--I actually try them. I started my career at a large insurance defense and commercial litigation firm, trying multiple cases to verdict every year by myself, starting in my first year of practice.
What common questions are you asked by clients, and what are your answers?
- Q: "How long will the case last?" A: "It's best to assume that we will go to trial and that the case will last between 12-18 months."
Q: "Why is litigation so expensive?" A: "Due to technology advances, there are more and more documents related to each case because of the way we live (we communicate electronically, etc.). If there are large amounts of documents, those must be stored, analyzed, and 'hosted' in expensive databases in order to comply with court discovery rules. Court reporters, who are necessary for depositions, get more expensive every year. Sometimes it is necessary to videotape the deposition of the opposing party. A deposition like that can cost $3,000 or more. And the cost of experts, which are almost always necessary to avoid an outright dismissal of your case, can be absolutely crippling. As a rule, doctors dislike testifying at trial. In order to avoid this, they charge exorbiant fees, sometimes $1,000 an hour to consult with me and to testify. Some doctors, engineering ,and other scientific experts require extremely high ($15,000 or more) retainers just for the privilege of using their name during settlement discussions. Some of the best experts are located in other areas of the country. In order to attend trial, they require payment for their flight, hotel, and meals (that's on top of their enormous hourly rate to testify and work with me to prepare for trial). Finally, jurors expect a technologically advanced presentation--they expect professional, electronic exhibits, well-produced, tightly edited video clips, and "documentary"-style trials. Technology consultants who run all the video and exhibits behind the scenes so that the lawyer can focus on questioning and legal argument are extremely expensive and can cost tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the length of the trial. This list does not come close to capturing all of the expenses of litigation and trial, but it highlights some of the reasons that it costs so much to litigate and try a case."
Describe one of your most interesting or memorable cases in the past year.
- I represented a woman who fell on a set of stairs at a restaurant, and was seriously injured. She left the restaurant in an ambulance, had two orthopedic surgeries, and was in a skilled nursing facility for a month. I requested documents regarding other falls. I was told that the restaurant had "no documents." About six months later, and the day before I was scheduled to depose the owner of the restaurant, I received a set of emails that showed the following: (1) a different patron fell on the same set of stairs, was injured, and had to go to the emergency room a mere six days before my client fell; (2) when the manager of the restaurant learned of the first woman's fall, the manager attempted to implement safety measures on the stairs; (3) the owner of the restaurant ordered, in writing, that the manager remove the safety measures ASAP and stated that the restaurant accepts no responsibility for people who slip. I was able to argue that my client's catastrophic fall could have been prevented, but for the willful and wanton conduct of the owner. I brought, and won, a motion to add a claim for $1 million in punitive damages to the case and a motion for sanctions in the form of thousands of dollars of attorney fees due to the late production of the emails. I also added the owner of the restaurant as a party to the lawsuit. Finally, I won a motion to add a claim for $1 million in punitive damages against the owner of the restaurant. The case settled very favorably for my client soon thereafter.
What is most challenging about your area(s) of expertise?
- There are no guarantees in litigation. I will always keep my client fully informed regarding the risks and benefits of various options. However, the ultimate decisions are always up to the client. Most of my clients want me to tell them what to do. I can advise them, but I can't make the critical decisions for them.
Were there any particular inspirations (people or events) that spurred your interest in your practice area(s)?
- I had a debate scholarship in college, and I was in quarterfinals of the National Debate Tournament. The only career I could think of that came closest to debate, which I loved and knew that I was good at, was being a trial lawyer.
What other interests do you have?
- My two daughters and my husband have first dibs on all my time outside of the courtroom.
Lawyer Practice Areas
Lawyer Case History
Dave's Killer Bread, Inc. v. Mont. Merch., Inc., Case No. 3:17-cv-0237-YY (D. Or. Jul. 12, 2017)
Johnpoll v. Brix Tavern, LLC, et al., Multnomah County Case No. 17CV33824 (2018)
While representing a woman who was severely injured by falling down stairs at a restaurant, Kristin won the following motions:
- Motion for Sanctions. Kristin requested documents regarding other falls at the restaurant, but the restaurant claimed that there were no documents. Months later, with no explanation, the restaurant produced documents that showed, among other things, that the restaurant knew that a different patron fell down the same stairs and necessitated a trip to the emergency room just days before Kristin's client fell. They also showed that, days before Kristin's client fell, a manager of the restaurant drew lines on the stairs to make them more visible, but the owner ordered that the markings be removed. As a result of the failure to produce the documents for over six months after they were requested, Kristin won a motion for sanctions and an award of $3,290 in attorney fees to be paid by the restaurant and its attorneys to Kristin's client.
- Motion to amend to allow allegations of punitive damages of $1 million against Brix Tavern, the restaurant where Kristin's client was severely injured. To win her Motion to add allegations of punitive damages, Kristin had to show that there was evidence that Brix Tavern acted with malice or have "shown a reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and has acted with a conscious indifference to the health, safety and welfare of others.” Oregon Revised Statute 31.730.
- Motion to amend the lawsuit to add Mark Byrum, the man who owned Brix Tavern where Kristin's client was severely injured, as a defendant.
- Motion to amend to allow allegations of punitive damages of $1 million against Defendant Mr. Byrum, the owner of Brix Tavern. To win her Motion to add allegations of punitive damages, Kristin had to show that there was evidence that Mr. Byrum acted with malice or have "shown a reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and has acted with a conscious indifference to the health, safety and welfare of others.” Oregon Revised Statute 31.730.
Freifeld v. Leisure Sports, Inc., et al., Washington County Case No. 18CV12178 (2018)
Kristin represented a victim who was sexually assaulted during a massage in a case against a fitness club. Kristin successfully defeated a motion to strike allegations in the lawsuit regarding a previous sexual assault victim at the same club location. She also won motions to:
- Obtain documentation regarding the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists' investigation into the assault on her client.
- Amend to allege $1 million in punitive damages against SMG Properties Oregon LLC, doing business as ClubSport Oregon ("ClubSport Oregon") and its managing company, Leisure Sports, Inc. To win her Motion to add allegations of punitive damages, Kristin had to show that there was evidence that ClubSport Oregon and Leisure Sports acted with malice or have "shown a reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and has acted with a conscious indifference to the health, safety and welfare of others.” Oregon Revised Statute 31.730.
- Amend to allege additional claims against ClubSport Oregon and Leisure Sports, including claims for negligence per se, negligent training and supervision, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. To win this Motion, Kristin had to show that there was evidence to support these claims. Kristin was allowed leave to file a Second Amended Complaint to add these claims, as well as her claims for punitive damages.