- Employment discrimination and wrongful termination
- Wage theft
- Civil Rights
- Small business and consumer fraud
- Class actions
Areas of Practice
Mark graduated with honors from St. Louis University in 1971. He then spent two years in Portland as a Jesuit Volunteer, working for a public interest law firm. After spending time travelling in Mexico and Guatemala, Mark returned to the Northwest, graduating from Northwestern School of Law (Lewis & Clark College) in 1976. He began his law practice as a assistant Public Defender in Guam, returned to Portland as deputy Federal Defender for Oregon, and went back to Guam as Director of Guam Legal Services Corporation from 1982-1985. Mark entered private practice in Oregon in 1985 as an associate at the Law Offices of Henry Carey and later with Jerome LaBarre. In 1988, he and Jim McCandlish formed Griffin & McCandlish. Mark has been married since 1973 to Sandi Cour Griffin and has four children and six grandchildren. He is an avid tennis player, and enjoys travelling, skiing, the mountains, and spending time with his grandchildren.
Mark has served on the Board of Directors of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, NW; Holy Redeemer Parochial School (Portland); and the Irvington Tennis Club. He currently is counsel for the Camp Starlight Commission. Camp Starlight operates a summer camp for children whose lives are affected by HIV/AIDS.
Nature of Practice
The scope of Marks’s over 30 years of trial practice is best described as eclectic, but there has been a common theme: he has tirelessly and vigorously represented the victims of discrimination, institutional fraud, wage theft, and civil rights violations. His dedication and work in the areas of public justice earned him the Arthur H. Bryant Public Justice Award for 2008:
For Mark Griffin, being a trial lawyer is about bringing down the institutional structure of fraud on consumers and disrespect for workers being spewed by today's big corporations. Whether he's taking on mortgage lenders who prey on the vulnerable, gaining fair wages for dairy workers or sticking up for civil service custodians when the Portland Public Schools tried to force them out, Mark has always been a champion of the poor and disrespected.
Below is a sampling of cases that represents Marks’s commitment to the principles of justice and equality for those whose voices are not heard.
Wage Theft/Class Action
Liborio v. Del Monte Fresh
Mark and Jim co- counseled this case, teaming with Art Schmidt and Julie Samples of the Oregon Law Center, representing production workers at the Del Monte Fresh processing plant in North Portland. Del Monte employed hundreds of workers, mostly Latino and many with little proficiency in English, to cut fresh fruit and vegetables. The working environment was cold and wet and sanitation standards required that that protective gear be put on (“donned”) and removed (“doffed”) whenever a worker entered or left the facility. The time needed to don and doff is work time and must be paid for by the employer. Del Monte and its shill labor contractor denied that workers were donning and doffing off the clock. After a three week trial, the jury condemned Del Monte for its custom and practice of denying these wages. Over 350 workers each received an award for wages and penalty wages in excess of $1800. Del Monte’s appeal of the verdict and the award of over $1.5 million is pending.
Ramirez v. RDO Bos Farms
Plaintiffs were workers at an industrial dairy in Central Oregon whose job was to process waste into commercial grade compost that was sold by defendant. The plantiffs, many of whom worked double time and some of whom regularly worked over 100 hours per week, were not paid overtime. Mark brought a claim for violation of the overtime provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Oregon Minimum Wage Act. The case was settled with all workers receiving overtime wages.
McWilliams v. Portland Public School District No. 1J
Mark and co-counsel William Brandt of Salem, Oregon, represented Portland Public School custodians who were illegally terminated from employment. The class action civil rights case on behalf of these civil service employees was settled for back pay and job reinstatement.
Three Mile Canyon Dairy Cases
This series of cases resulted in successful settlements for workers who had been victims of employment discrimination at an industrial dairy in Boardman, Oregon. The first group of plaintiffs brought claims that the dairy’s refusal to hire women other than as administrative staff was sex discrimination. A group of male employees who complained about this policy also settled their claims for sex discrimination. The dairy also settled the claim of a worker who had been subjected to harsh working conditions, segregation from other dairy workers and dismissal because of his attempts to organize a union at the dairy. Ultimately, the dairy workers became members of the United Farm Workers and now are protected by a collective bargaining agreement.
Hobbs v. Care Ambulance
Jill Hobbs was a paramedic who was fired after she testified in a deposition in the case of another paramedic who was the victim of sexual discrimination. The jury awarded lost wages and punitive damages to Ms. Hobbs. Her co-worker, also represented by Mark, settled her case for sexual discrimination, as did another co-worker who had stood up against these unlawful practices.
Miller v. Garrabrant
Plaintiff was a judicial assistant who was sexually harassed by a state court trial court judge. After selection of the jury, the case settled. The judge later resigned after an investigation by the Oregon Judicial Fitness Commission.
Fraud and Consumer Protection
Vasquez v. Beneficial Finance
Mark was lead trial counsel in this predatory lending case. Mark and co-counsel Phil Goldsmith and Hope DelCarlo, successfully prosecuted this fraud case agains this lending giant. Plaintiffs were a married couple, recent immigrants who did not speak English. The jury awarded significant compensatory and punitive damages, finding that Beneficial had defrauded the couple in making an unnecessary high interest re-finance loan.
Read the Court of Appeals decision by clicking here.
Sanders v. Farmers Insurance Company
As a result of the denial of coverage by Farmers after a house fire, plaintiff’s house became contaminated with toxic mold. Mark established the law of efficient proximate cause as it related to mold contamination. Because the fire was the efficient proximate cause of the mold (the mold was the result of water that was used in fire suppression) and fire loss was a covered event under the policy, the mold contamination was a covered event under the policy as well.
Gleaves v. Mac Tools
Along with his colleague William Brandt of Salem, Oregon, Mark prosecuted this franchise fraud case in 1990 on behalf of a Mac Tools distributor. The jury awarded the distributor significant economic damages and punitive damages of over $2 million. As a result of that case, Mac Tools settled hundreds of other cases brought by other distributors across the country.
Singh v. Invictus
This arbitration case in 2004 resulted in rescission of franchise agreements between the seven plaintiffs and a subfranchisor of Jani-King, and national janitorial franchise. The arbitrator held that Invictus had breached its duties to these workers by underbidding cleaning contracts. Invictus was ordered to repay the franchise fees, royalties and related fees that had been taken from the plaintiffs, most of whom were recent immigrants who had invested their life savings in the venture.
McNicholas v. Maring
In this case, a minority shareholder in a closely held corporation successfully sued the officers and majority shareholder for breach of fiduciary duty. The jury returned a substantial verdict for plaintiff for compensatory and punitive damages.