Four Decades of Oregon Trial Experience
Representing seriously injured and aggrieved people.

Areas of Practice

  • Wrongful Death
  • Auto Collisions; Serious Personal Injury; Head Injury
  • Pedestrian, Motorcycle and Bike Injuries
  • Legal Malpractice
  • Class Actions
  • Wrongful Employee Termination; Discrimination and Sex Abuse
  • Insurance Claims

Personal Biography

Jim is a 3rd generation Oregonian, raised on a farm north of Salem, Oregon. He attended North Salem High School and graduated with honors from Harvard College in 1967. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree, he spent two and a half years working in the Peace Corps with small farmers in central Africa. Returning to his native Oregon, Jim worked his way through law school in Portland at Northwestern School of Law (Lewis & Clark) and began his legal career in 1975 as a staff attorney with Legal Aid. After a six month bicycle trip in Europe and northern Africa, he served as staff co-counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee in Salem. He then spent two years with the Metro Public Defender's office in Portland gaining valuable and extensive jury trial experience. Jim started his own firm in 1981, and joined forces with Mark Griffin in 1988.

Nature of his Practice

The scope, breadth and significance of cases tried by McCandlish is instructive. No challenge is too daunting. The common theme running throughout is devotion to the principles of justice and equality, giving the little guy a voice previously unheard. In 2006, the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association awarded McCandlish the Arthur H. Bryant Public Justice Award for representing dozens of workers at the Umatilla Chemical Weapons Depot who fell ill during a horrific incident.

"Mr. McCandlish came to our aid when we all felt it would be impossible to find anyone that could surmount the incredible complexity of the case. He taught us by example that through integrity and willingness, one person can accomplish exceptional things to make a difference for humanity. Mr. McCandlish certainly is an inspiration to all that have the privilege of knowing him."
Umatilla Client Spokesperson, John Tucker

The Oregon Trial Lawyers described McCandlish as "an attorney who has dedicated his career to representing the disadvantaged." Jim's work is carefully limited to a relatively small number of cases. By restricting the number of cases, he is able to provide personal and thorough representation to selected clients. He represents those who have been seriously injured, families who have lost a loved one or people who have been outrageously victimized by persons or organizations abusing a position of power. Pursuing justice is the principal reason he remains so enthusiastic about his work. Jim is one of a limited number of attorneys known to vigorously pursue legal malpractice cases. McCandlish has also successfully handled numerous insurance claims, product defect injuries, egregious employee abuse and firing based on illegal discrimination. No opponent is too powerful, including judges, to ignore the need for justice. And...he has always had trouble resisting new challenges.

Below is a sampling of cases McCandlish has handled to illustrate how the law can be used to champion civil justice and make our society a better place for all people to achieve their potential.

Wrongful Death/Serious Personal Injury.

  • Car/Pedestrian Death.

    A 70 year old retiree was standing by the side of a winding country road at the foot of his driveway, waiting for traffic to clear so that he could cross and retrieve his mail. An off duty equipment rental company employee lost control of his pickup, jumped onto the side of the road and killed him instantly. The jury returned a verdict against the equipment rental company for $450,000 for the family's loss of society and companionship, most of it for the 71 year old widow missing out on sharing the golden years with her husband.

  • Fire Safety Agriculture Housing Deaths.

    Three agriculture workers were killed in a migrant housing fire started by one of the victims falling asleep with a lit cigarette. All three had been admittedly drinking. Jim filed a federal lawsuit alleging violations of federal and state smoke and fire alarm requirements that resulted in substantial compensation in a confidential amount for the families of the victims.

  • Fire Safety Apartment Housing Deaths.

    Nine people perished in a suburban Portland apartment complex as a result of a 10 year old boy playing with matches. The state took custody of the boy in a much publicized prosecution, and Jim as lead counsel sued the owner and managers of the apartments for failing to comply with fire safety laws and the Landlord-Tenant Act, collecting millions from the landlord's insurer.

  • Vehicle Accident/Tavern Liability.

    A freeway restaurant/bar over-served a group of customers, who left the bar in their vehicles at closing and began racing on the main highway in Albany. One of the vehicles hit a car stopped at a traffic light, killing two people and injuring two others. The insurance company paid the policy limit on behalf of the careless, drunken driver. The insurer for the owner of the stopped car paid its limit for underinsured motorist coverage. The insurer for the bar paid its maximum policy amount of $1 million because it continued to serve a visibly intoxicated customer. Significantly, the owner of the bar was forced to pay nearly $150,000 from his own pocket. Additionally, the Oregon Liquor Commission has taken action against the bar owners.

  • Intersection Vehicle Accident/Head Injury.

    The newly elected high school student body president in a rural Eastern Oregon community hit her head on the windshield in a low speed intersection accident. Even though she was able to complete high school and college, her mental acuity had gone from exceptional to average. Jim settled her case under the Family Purpose doctrine against the father of the teenager who caused the injury for a half million dollars.

  • Workplace Injury.

    An electrician had to crawl over a newly installed sheet metal ceiling at Freightliner's paint shop to rewire the lighting. Unbeknownst to him, the panels adjacent to a ceiling air duct were not yet properly fastened or supported by the sheet metal contractor, causing him to fall through the ceiling onto the concrete floor eight feet below, busting his knee and both elbows. Jim sued the sheet metal company for failure to warn and violation of work place safety laws, resulting in a $450,000 settlement for the electrician. "Jim's hard work and understanding of the law was very impressive. He's honest and straightforward. We were lucky to find him." Ivan Thorud.

  • Vehicle-Livestock Accident/Head Injury.

    Chinese nationals working in the high tech industry were northbound late at night on I-5. Without warning, the vehicle hit two large dark cattle at 65 mph, killing the cattle and causing severe head injuries to the driver. After filing the case, the insurer for the farmer controlling the pasture from which the animals escaped and wandered onto the freeway agreed to pay its policy limit, with an additional contribution from the farmer's pocket. "I was badly injured. Jim put my recovery as the first priority. He worked diligently and achieved a result quickly and to our great satisfaction. He is warm-hearted, sincere and honest, You can trust his word." Jason Ge.

Legal Negligence (malpractice)

  • Jim sued a young woman's former attorney in a car accident case for failing to protect a minor's settlement funds, which had been drained by her guardians prior to her turning 18. As a result of the lawsuit, the attorney's insurer:

    • Returned the entire fee previously taken by the former attorney;
    • Paid back all of the monies plus interest that the guardians had misappropriated; and
    • Paid an additional confidential amount, which was five times the original settlement and reputed at the time to be the largest single payout made by the insurer for Oregon attorneys. Jim obtained this result because of his thorough approach. He went to the original accident scene, re-interviewed witnesses and found additional defendants who were responsible for the accident, all of which should have been done by the original attorney.

  • A southern Oregon lawyer, the brother of one of the most powerful judges in the state mishandled a lawsuit, resulting in clients having no viable access to harvest timber on their lands, a problem that would be inherited by successor generations if not corrected.. McCandlish sued the attorney, and after nearly 5 years of work, the clients now have full access to their timber without any conditions on harvesting or limitations on inheritance. "Jim kept at it diligently until we found the solution we needed. His honesty and integrity helped restore our faith in the legal system" Gary and Kathy Larson.

  • McCandlish was lead counsel prosecuting a local attorney who neglected to file an accident claim in timely fashion, the principle issue for the jury to decide being what damages were caused by the less than 5 mph parking lot fender -bender. The attorney argued that client's damages were limited to a few months of pain and suffering for soft tissue damages. The jury disagreed, finding that her neck fusion surgery, performed over two years after the accident, was caused by the accident and awarded nearly $190,000 in damages against the attorney. "When we began the process to find an attorney it did not go well at first. But when we finally met Jim it seemed to just fit. His candor and honesty about our case made us trust him right away. Thankfully we can say that we have no regrets! Win or lose we knew that he had put all he had into it. Receiving his emails early in the morning and late into the evening we knew that he was putting in long days, not just working for a check. Without his positive attitude and leadership we would have surely crumbled under the pressure. Sometimes you wonder if that is not part of a big law firm strategy. Win by attrition. Simply outlast the little guy." Angela Schacher

Worker Protection

  • Sex Harassment by a Judge.

    Griffin & McCandlish filed a lawsuit on behalf of a court clerk against her boss, a sitting judge in Hood River, whose harassing sexual remarks and conduct eventually caused her to resign because of extreme emotional upset. At trial after the jury had been picked, the judge settled, reassigning our client to a new position with the state, allowing worker compensation benefits and paying her substantial monetary damages.

  • Sex Harassment by a Medical Doctor.

    A rural doctor had been attempting during work hours to grope his nurse with his office manager/wife literally in the next office. The nurse quit in frustration, and Jim was able to obtain a confidential but just amount of compensation for the abuse.

  • Wrongful Termination for Injury on the Job.

    Jim was lead attorney prosecuting a Southern Oregon employer that terminated its restaurant duct cleaning employee for trumped up reasons a week after he fell and broke his wrist at work. The employer agreed to pay ten times its offer going into trial after opening statements were made to the jury.

  • Wage and Hour Violations/Class Actions.

    McCandlish was lead counsel in a lawsuit against Del Monte Fresh. The company employed hundreds of minimum wage workers, mostly Hispanic with little proficiency in English, to cut fresh fruit and vegetables. The sanitary working environment was cold and wet, requiring that protective gear be put on and removed whenever entering or leaving the production facility. The time needed to "don and doff" is work time and must be paid for by the employer. Del Monte and its labor contractor denied that workers were donning and doffing off the clock. After three weeks of trial, the jury found for the workers. 330 employees have been awarded damages. Del Monte's appeal of the verdict and the award of $1.3 million in attorney fees did not suceed. Over 300 workers received checks. A subsequent case alleging the same labor law violations was settled, resulting in significant checks to 511 workers.

Unique Challenges

  • Neighbor Overspray of 2,4-D.

    Clients had a flower nursery, and the neighbor's overspray ruined their lilac bushes. On the second day set for trial, with the jury waiting in the wings, the parties negotiated a confidential settlement. "We were really pleased with the result. Jim's integrity and caring concern for us being made whole and getting justice was very apparent. He's out there to help the little guy." Barbara and Chris Billman

  • Defamation.

    The chief executive of a large education district negotiated a buyout of his contract. Months later in response to public criticism, the press quoted a top Board official suggesting the client had committed financial improprieties, besmirching his reputation. Suit was brought for defamation and constitutional violations, and was settled for payment of $500,000 and retraction of any suggestion of wrongful use of public monies. "As co-counsel on my case, Jim McCandlish helped me through an emotionally challenging and very complex legal dispute involving harassment, slander and public defamation. It was reassuring to have a compassionate person like Jim representing me. His expertise, dedication and overall professionalism were key in bringing my case to a successful conclusion, even though we were up against a very powerful and well financed opposition. It’s also important to note that Jim is a man of honesty, integrity and ethics. He kept the presentation of my case on a path of hard facts, real evidence and telling the truth." Todd Herberg

James E. McCandlish

1000 SW Broadway, Ste. 2400
Portland, OR 97205
Tel: 503.206.8437
Fax: 503.224.9201

Disclaimer: The results described in these cases do not necessarily
indicate that similar results can be obtained for other or new clients.