Letter: The financial case against the suit

Letter: The financial case against the suit

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Now that Judge Murphy ruled that counties can’t sue Oregon for money ("Reversal Throws Wrench Into Suit, June 27) regarding the timber class action lawsuit, can we stop arguing about it?

That's unlikely, given the relatively equal numbers of residents with strong feelings on either side of “opting out” versus “remaining in.” Also, it’s premature to assume this suit will really go away, and county action may even be needed to protect a keystone principle, courts enforcing counties' agreements with the state.

However, I’m concerned many past letters have flung a lot of mud with scant analysis. So, here’s a sample analysis with one important objective -- what’s best financially for each Benton County resident. The upshot is to hope the lawsuit goes away, but to “remain in” if not.

If there’s no lawsuit, the value to each of us is zero. Similarly, if the lawsuit loses, only the class action attorneys don’t get paid, so our value is zero whether Benton County is in or out.

Now, assume we remain in, and Judge Murphy awards the estimated maximum $27 million to Benton County and $1.4 billion to other counties. Allotting the total among Oregon’s 4.1 million residents is $341 per resident. Sharing the windfall among Benton County’s 85,580 residents is $315. That average loss is $26.

Alternatively, if Benton County “opts out,” we share a $1.4 billion loss with Oregon’s 4.1 million residents, an average loss of $335. So, hope for no lawsuit, no loss. Otherwise, “remaining in” avoids each of us losing up to $309.

John Sarna

Philomath (June 29)

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