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Judge tells Oracle, Oregon: Mediate

Marion County judge wants two sides to compromise in website debacle


COURTESY PHOTO - Oracle Corp. in Redwood City, Calif., is fighting with the state because of the Cover Oregon website debacle. A Marion County judge wants the two sides to mediate the dispute.A Marion County circuit judge on Thursday told lawyers for Oracle Corp. and the state that they should mediate the state’s massive fraud and racketeering lawsuit over the $300 million Cover Oregon website debacle.

Toward the end of a nearly three-hour hearing March 10, Judge Courtland Geyer came to the brink of ordering mediation before deciding he needed to first research concerns raised by Oracle’s attorneys. Still, he said, “I believe in this case it would be appropriate to require the parties to spend a day or two in good faith, in private, in the secrecy of mediation to see if there is an outcome that they can all live with.”

Oregon’s attorneys welcomed the idea, but Oracle’s attorneys raised concerns over the confidentiality of any mediation.

Geyer agreed to spend more time looking at whether Oracle’s concerns could be addressed. “It sounds like I may have to take some further look at that but I have let it be known how I want to see this proceed,” he said.

Geyer’s comments came after agreeing with the state that Oracle had misused a protective order to keep its internal documents from being used publicly by the state. He ordered the firm review hundreds of thousands of documents to see which should not be considered confidential. He also ordered that 10 documents cited by the state be stripped of their confidentiality with some redactions, overruling Oracle’s claims that the documents should be secret.

A spokeswoman for Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum hailed the ruling, saying, "Throughout this case, Oracle has tried to conceal documents from the public and hide the facts. But, today, the Judge ensured that Oracle can no longer hide behind unnecessary 'confidential' and 'attorneys eyes only' classifications of documents. We are confident that when the facts of this case do come out, they will convey a different story from what Oracle continues to tell.”

Oracle, however, scoffed at the significance of the 10 documents focused on by the state. "This collection of one-off documents is the best the state has against a mountain of evidence, including publicly available documents commissioned by the state itself, that place the blame for the problems at Cover Oregon on state mismanagement, dysfunction and incompetence," according to a company statement. "And additional evidence, newly produced, confirms that the state misled the federal government in order to obtain over $300 (million) in funding for the exchange and then decided to abandon the exchange for political purposes."

Meanwhile, the Redwood City, Calif., company continues to escalate its efforts to pull the plug on the state’s case. The firm on Wednesday sought an order in federal court demanding the federal government move in to block the state’s lawsuit. It also filed a new motion in state court urging Geyer to toss the state’s lawsuit entirely.

The company is aready in state court trying to enforce what it calls a $25 million oral agreement to settle the case, a deal the state denies was ever reached.