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Oracle, state lawyers discuss possible settlement over Cover Oregon health exchange debacle [The Oregonian, Portland, Ore. :: ]
[July 18, 2014]

Oracle, state lawyers discuss possible settlement over Cover Oregon health exchange debacle [The Oregonian, Portland, Ore. :: ]

(Oregonian (Portland, OR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 18--Lawyers for Oracle Corp. and the state of Oregon met Tuesday to discuss whether a lawsuit brewing over the Cover Oregon debacle can be averted.

No agreement was announced, and both sides declined to characterize the meeting, the odds of an agreement, or what comes next. But the talk of settlement does suggest both sides take seriously the likelihood of court action.

In May, Gov. John Kitzhaber urged Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to file a lawsuit against the California software giant, saying it failed to deliver in its role as lead technology vendor. That same month, the Oregon Department of Justice entered into a new $2-million contract with Portland law firm Markowitz Herbold Glade & Mehlhaf PC to prepare for litigation.

Oracle has engaged in saber-rattling of its own, sending Oregon a letter in April accusing the state of poor management and spreading a "false narrative" over who is to blame.

Settlement talks are not unusual. In fact, state law and a Kitzhaber executive order call for agencies to engage in dispute resolution without suing when possible But legal observers said it's noteworthy that both sides would talk settlement so early in the litigation process. Neither side has filed a suit, though in June DOJ began sending out demands for documents to contractors who worked on the project.

Kristina Edmunson, a spokeswoman for Rosenblum, declined to release the names of the meeting attendees. "We continue to pursue all legal options, and in the course of our investigation, we continue to have dialogue with many different groups," she said.

An Oracle spokeswoman declined to comment.

In March, while Cover Oregon hoped Oracle was close to fixing the website, the state and Oracle reached a temporary agreement in which the state paid the firm $44 million in unpaid bills, bringing the total Oracle payment to more than $130 million. However, the state withheld payment on another $26.5 million. Both sides reserved their right to sue.

As Oregon prepares for litigation with Oracle, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has continued to investigate the exchange fiasco.

--Nick Budnick ___ (c)2014 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) Visit The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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