La Grande, Oregon

Situated in the Grande Ronde Valley between the landmark peaks of Mt. Emily and Mt. Harris, La Grande, the seat of Union County, is a city with its roots deep in Oregon’s history. The fact that it was incorporated – not just settled – in 1865 is an indicator of its place in the state’s history. Like so many rural communities in the east and center of the state its early fate was linked to the coming of the railroad. Trains arrived in 1884 (only a few years after the completion of the trans-continental railroad) and the town grew rapidly as a result.

Today, La Grande is a city of just over 13,000 people, and a transport and commerce center for the eastern part of our state. Indeed, the city’s motto puts it succinctly: “The Hub of Northeast Oregon.” La Grande’s cultural life is enlivened by the presence of Eastern Oregon University (founded in 1929) and visitors can see an earlier side of Oregon life as they explore La Grande’s historic commercial district. The importance of this area was recognized by the federal government just over a decade ago when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The state of Oregon also recognized La Grande’s regional importance by designating it as the headquarters of Oregon’s 10th Judicial District. The Union County Court House at 1007 4th Street in La Grande is the center of legal activity for the county. The state judicial division’s website also notes that Union County “shares two judges with the Wallowa County Circuit Court” as part of the 10th District.

According to data compiled by the state’s judicial division, in 2011 Union County’s courts handled 403 civil cases, a number that was down noticeably from the three previous years. Civil cases peaked at 542 in 2008 (though it is worth noting that the number of federal cases filed in Union County has risen appreciably over the same time period). These numbers are worth our attention because many of the legal actions that are especially significant in rural communities like those of eastern Oregon are civil in nature. Day-to-day problems in a place like La Grande are very different from those experienced by Oregonians in Portland, Eugene or Salem.

Oregon industrial accidents are worth special attention. Under our state’s laws these can include accidents stemming from defective farm equipment or industrial machinery. Data for 2010 compiled by Oregon’s Department of Consumer and Business Affairs and released in 2012 indicates that agriculture is among the more dangerous professions in the state: “Crop Production” employs nearly 21,000 people statewide, many of them in Eastern Oregon, but the sector also reported 6.5 injuries for every 100 full-time workers. In the narrower category of accidents requiring the victim to miss work for a day or more crop production involved 3.6 accidents per 100 workers. It is worth adding that the state’s data collection methods treat agricultural “support activities” (for example grain processing mills) as a separate category from “crop production.” Support activities by themselves generated 5.9 accidents per 100 employees, including 2.9 per 100 involving missed work days.

Kaplan Law LLC offers assistance with Oregon farming and industrial accident matters for clients throughout Oregon and Washington. Kaplan Law’s main office is located at 50 SW Pine St #302, Portland, OR 97204.


Union County Circuit Court / Oregon 10th Judicial District Homepage

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