WCB's mediators have provided the following
information about themselves to help mediation participants chose
a local mediator that is a good fit for their case. Mediation participants
may also contact WCB's Mediation Coordinator, Kerry Garrett, by phone
(503-934-0104) or email (Kerry.Garrett@state.or.us)
for more information.
Aliza Bethlahmy - Home office: Portland
Judge Bethlahmy began her legal career thirty years ago in 1978 when
she became a member of the Idaho State Bar. In 1985 she joined the Oregon
State Bar and worked in private practice. Her background includes ALJ
experience hearing a variety of cases ranging from education, probation
revocation, welfare, workers' compensation, OSHA and employment cases
to tax and child support cases. In 1990 she accepted an ALJ position with
the Workers' Compensation Board, and in 1991 completed mediation training
with the Multnomah County Courts/State Judicial Institute Mediator Training
Program. Since 1995, Judge Bethlahmy has mediated all types of cases --
workers' compensation, employment, OSHA, NCE, and general tort cases --
at all levels from the Hearings Division to the Court of Appeals. She
believes her role as a mediator is to assist the parties in whatever capacity
they desire, whether it involves client control issues, legal analysis
and/or factual disputes, a facilitative or evaluative approach, or a combination
of the styles. She believes that a thorough knowledge of the file and
a frank discussion with counsel prior to the mediation is important. Judge
Bethlahmy's commitment toward resolution of all issues may involve working
with the parties beyond the actual day of mediation.
Duffy Bloom - Home office: Medford
Judge Bloom is available to help attorneys and their clients mediate
WCB disputes, not-yet-but-looming disputes, and workers' compensation-related
mandatory Oregon Court of Appeals and Supreme Court mediations. Judge
Bloom has earned a reputation as an effective, no-nonsense, efficient
mediator. He has genuine understanding and empathy for all parties in
the process, having worked at SAIF, for claimants, and having been a business-owner.
To round-out his bona fides, he has a good grasp of the law per se, as
in his career he represented his own clients, and others as an Amicus
lawyer before the Oregon Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and taught
at many seminars and CLE courses; finally, he was honored by the workers'
compensation section of the Oregon State Bar with the 2008 Douglas Daughtry
Award of Merit. If there is a tough case that needs help to settle, and
the parties believe a mediation's result is more important than the process,
the parties may find Judge Bloom's efforts most pleasing.
Emerson Fisher - Home office: Portland
Judge Fisher was in private practice from June 1982 to May 2000, handling
a wide variety of tort and workers' compensation cases almost exclusively
from the plaintiff's/claimant's side. During that time Judge Fisher did,
on a few occasions, help an NCE settle their workers' compensation and
third party liability issues. Judge Fisher did not handle employment or
labor law cases. From May 2000 to June 2003 Judge Fisher was a Board Review
staff attorney. He became an administrative law judge in June 2003.
Jacqueline Jacobson - Home office: Portland
Prior to her appointment as an ALJ, Judge Jacobson focused her practice primarily on workers' compensation law, and had the opportunity to represent both injured workers and insurers/employers. She is committed to facilitating productive and resolution-oriented discussion for everyone involved. Her down-to-earth approach and strong listening skills encourage open communication with a focus on the value and risks for each party. Judge Jacobson is a graduate of Reed College and Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College, and an active member of the Oregon State Bar.
David Lipton - Home office: Portland
Judge Lipton has been with the WCB Hearings Division since 1985 and has
served as a mediator since 1995. He believes that a successful mediation
requires preparation and that pre-mediation conferences and position papers
are of considerable assistance. Judge Lipton encourages an open discussion
which fosters creativity and respect. While most issues are resolved through
mediation, it is neither a failure, nor final, when some are not.
Claudette McWilliams - Home office: Eugene
Judge McWilliams mediates disputes involving workers' compensation and
OSHA disputes, as well as state and federal civil litigation. Judge McWilliams
received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Oregon
in l974 and l977. She has been a member of the State Bar of California
since 1977 and the Oregon State Bar since l978. Before joining the Board
in l987, Judge McWilliams served as an assistant district attorney and
trial attorney representing plaintiffs and defendants in civil litigation
with an emphasis on insurance defense, including employment disputes.
She has been an Adjunct Instructor in Trial Practice and Guest Lecturer
in ADR at the University of Oregon School of Law. She is a past chair
of the OSB Worker's Compensation Section, OSB ADR Section Executive Committee,
Past President of the Association of Oregon Workers' Compensation Judges,
and former member of the Association for Conflict Resolution (formerly
SPIDR) and the Oregon Mediation Association. Judge McWilliams is a 2001
recipient of the Oregon State Bar President's Membership Service Award
and the 2003 Douglas W. Daughtry Award. She is the author of Employer
Incentives and Special Funds, (2000 Supp and 2009).
Greg Naugle - Home office: Salem
Judge Naugle has been an administrative law judge since 2001 and mediated
more than 60 cases for State Boards and Agencies. He is available for
mediating any case type.
Jenny Ogawa - Mediation office: Salem
Judge Ogawa has been a member of the Oregon State Bar since 1987. She
became an administrative law judge in August 2005. Her prior workers'
compensation experience includes private practice representing insurers
and employers at the hearing and appellate levels, as a Board Review staff
attorney, and as legal issues coordinator for the Workers' Compensation
Division. Judge Ogawa typically uses a combination of facilitative and
evaluative approaches to mediation.
Jill Riechers - Home office: Portland
Judge Riechers has been an administrative law judge since October 2002.
Prior to that, she represented Liberty Northwest Insurance Corporation
and employers for 15 years in mostly Oregon workers' compensation cases,
with some U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers' compensation cases. For two
years before that, she represented claimants in workers' compensation
and Social Security cases. Judge Riechers graduated from University of
Oregon School of Law.
Steve Rissberger - Home office: Portland
Judge Rissberger has been an Oregon attorney since 1987 and has experience
as a judicial clerk for the Oregon Court of Appeals, as an attorney in
private practice, and as an administrative law judge with the Oregon Office
of Administrative Hearings. He was appointed as an administrative law
judge for the Workers' Compensation Board in 2003. He is a past Chair
of the Oregon State Bar's Administrative Law Section and served as President
of the Oregon Association of Administrative Law Judges for three years.
Judge Rissberger enjoys challenging mediations, even those few that fail.
He believes each mediation is unique and each one requires a different
approach. However, he generally offers an ALJ's assessment of the medical
evidence or volunteers suggestions regarding negotiating strategy where
this kind of input is welcome and may be helpful to the parties. Judge
Rissberger has completed a number of successful mediations involving workers
from non-English speaking cultures who require interpreters and he would
Bruce Smith (Fluent in Spanish) - Home office:
Judge Smith was awarded his mediation certificate from the Institute
for Conflict Management in Santa Monica, California in January 2008. With
over three decades of experience in the private practice of law, Judge
Smith is able to make creative use of both facilitative and evaluative
strategies to help parties resolve their legal conflicts. He has been
a member of the Oregon State Bar since graduating from Willamette University
School of Law in 1972; and was appointed as an ALJ in 2008. Judge Smith
has extensive experience representing injured parties in workers' compensation,
medical malpractice, product liability, and employment matters. He also
has approximately 15 years' experience as a court-annexed arbitrator in
Jackson County Circuit Courts. Judge Smith is fluent in Spanish, and has
represented hundreds of Spanish-speaking clients in a wide variety of
matters. He invites inquiries from attorneys with Spanish-speaking clients.
Holly Somers - Home office: Portland/Salem
Judge Somers has been a member of the Oregon State Bar since 1997 and
the Washington State Bar since 1998 (currently inactive). She began working
in the workers' compensation system as a secretary at an insurance company
in 1987, advancing to claims assistant and then claims examiner before
entering law school at Lewis and Clark. After law school, she practiced
as a trial lawyer in both state and federal courts until 2003, when she
was appointed as an administrative law judge. Since her appointment, she
has presided over workers' compensation cases and mediated workers' compensation,
employment, and general tort cases as a certified mediator for the Workers'
Compensation Board. Judge Somers was appointed Presiding Administrative
Law Judge in 2007, but continues to enjoy conducting mediations.
Kirk Spangler - Home office: Salem
Judge Spangler is a highly qualified and experienced board certified
mediator. He mediates all types of cases, as well as those pending appeal.
He is a 1986 graduate of Willamette University College of Law and has
been an administrative law judge for the Workers' Compensation Board since
1990. He is also a former certified flight instructor and brings a breadth
of real life experience, compassion, and objective legal analysis to each
mediation. Accordingly, Judge Spangler maintains an extremely high settlement
rate. He is known for his "straight talk" and listening skills.
Judge Spangler tailors his mediation style (i.e., facilitative or active)
to fit the particular needs of the parties. Although Judge Spangler continues
to hold hearings and write Opinion and Orders, he makes himself available
for nearly all mediation requests, even those requested on short notice.
Geoffrey Wren - Home office: Portland
Judge Wren graduated from William and Mary Law School in 1985. Prior
to becoming an administrative law judge, Judge Wren worked in trial practice
in Virginia and Oregon. His practice, particularly in the ten years before
he became an ALJ, included substantial emphasis on employment law, including
cases involving claims for injured worker discrimination, disability discrimination,
wage claims, and family medical leave. Judge Wren generally takes a facilitative
approach to mediation, but can be more directive if that is the parties'
preference. In every mediation, he asks that the parties prepare comprehensive
mediation statements, as he finds that these statements aid the parties
as much as they do himself.