Kroger pushes to keep 2,000 Daimler jobs from leaving Portland

Chris Rizo Apr. 3, 2009, 1:47pm

John Kroger (D)

SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline)-About 2,000 jobs will have a better chance of remaining in Portland, Ore., under a settlement reached between state Attorney General John Kroger and Daimler Trucks North America LLC.

Kroger, a Democrat, hailed the settlement as good for Daimler's employees, Oregon's economy and for crime victims in the Beaver State.

Under the settlement terms, the attorney general's office agreed to drop a lawsuit seeking a portion of a 2006 punitive damage judgment against Daimler, formerly known as Freightliner.

In exchange, the company has agreed to pay up to $300,000 to the state if it moves its corporate headquarters from Oregon in the next three years. Daimler Trucks also agreed to contribute $150,000 to the Oregon Crime Victims' Compensation Fund in 2010.

The Daimler Trucks North America headquarters on Portland's Swan Island employs about 2,000 people.

In a statement, Oregon Business Association President Ryan Deckert hailed the agreement, which ended a lawsuit filed in 2007.

"At a time when Oregon's unemployment rate is at its highest level in 25 years, this is just the news we needed to hear for an important company in Oregon," said Deckert, a former Democratic state senator.

In 2006, a Multnomah County jury ordered Freightliner to pay $850 million, including $350 million in punitive damages, in a case brought by German truck manufacturer MAN AG.

Jurors found that the company illegally transferred assets to evade a $488 million judgment MAN won against Freightliner in Britain.

The two companies settled their dispute in 2007 for $500 million. The state sued, seeking to recover the 60 percent of the punitive damage award that Oregon law requires goes into the state's crime victims' assistance fund.

Then-Attorney General Hardy Myers said Daimler owed Oregon $210 million because the state did not OK the deal. In 2007, the Democrat filed suit in Marion County Circuit Court seeking that amount.

Daimler executives had said publicly that resolution of this case would affect their decision on whether to keep the company's headquarters in Oregon.

"We view this action by Oregon's new attorney general as a significant and welcome gesture of support in our home state, and a positive step forward," Chris Patterson, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, said in a statement.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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