Brooks M. Foster
Brooks is an experienced litigator and negotiator who uses his skills and knowledge of the law to help his clients resolve disputes, negotiate transactions, and achieve their goals. He has worked full time in private practice in Portland, Oregon since 2004, gaining expertise in a wide variety of complex areas of law, including environmental, insurance, land use, real estate, business, and administrative law. Brooks is known for his attention to detail, preparedness, written and oral advocacy, and aggressive pursuit of clients’ interest.
Brooks began his legal career in 2003 as a law clerk at the downtown Portland firm of Rycewicz & Chenoweth. In 2004, he became an associate attorney. In 2006, he helped Brian Chenoweth found the Chenoweth Law Group. In 2013, he became a partner in the firm.
Always striving to provide superior service and value, Brooks tailors his representation to the unique needs of each client and case. When a case requires it, he can assemble and lead a team of experts and other professionals while collaborating with co-counsel in or outside the firm. With smaller matters, he is just as comfortable devising strategies to achieve client goals within a limited budget.
In 2008, Brooks obtained a published opinion from the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that’s reversed an adverse trial court ruling, leading to a substantial settlement for his client. Throughout his career, he has negotiated six- and seven-figure settlements and business and real estate transactions while representing hundreds of businesses, landowners, and individuals. He has prevailed at virtually every stage of the legal process, while becoming familiar with its risks and limitations. He is adept at using facts, legal authority, and the litigation process to generate leverage in settlement negotiations and positions disputes for early resolution.
Brooks’ success in litigation has made him a trusted advisor to numerous business and transactional clients. From risk assessment and mitigation to strategic advice and negotiation, Brooks helps his clients navigate the complex business and regulatory challenges of the 21st century. Business formation and dissolution, defense of government enforcement actions, negotiation and drafting of real estate transactions and instruments, preparation of land use applications, insurance coverage claims and analysis—these are among the many services Brooks provides his diverse clientele.
Brooks is particularly adept in cases involving environmental claims and insurance coverage. When a business has been sued and needs help defending the case and obtaining insurance coverage for defense costs and settlement, Brooks knows how to help. These types of disputes can involve multiple lawsuits and numerous parties. Brooks has the experience to litigate, negotiate, and resolve even the most complex and adversarial environmental and insurance coverage cases.
Land use law is another important part of Brooks’ practice. He has spent countless hours studying the intricacies of state and local land use laws and court opinions. He has appeared at public hearings before city councils, planning commissions, and board of county commissioners. He has prepared a variety of land use applications, and has helped his clients obtain relief in court from adverse local decisions and land use permit denials. When civil litigation among private parties implicates land use rights and issues, he uses his breadth of knowledge in these areas to put his clients at an advantage in resolving the dispute.
Cannabis law is a relatively new area of Brooks’ practice. Oregon’s move to legalization has created opportunities for numerous businesses and property owners, while leading to inevitable conflicts. Brooks has taken on difficult, precedent setting cases; he has advised growers and dispensary owners regarding regulatory compliance against a changing backdrop of statutes and administrative rules; he has negotiated leases and purchase agreements; he has negotiated and resolved business disputes; and he has prepared industry-leading land use applications.
Brooks’ practice is always growing and changing to meet his clients’ needs. He works closely with his clients to understand their unique situations, abilities, and limitations, while empowering them and facilitating achievement of their goals.
When not practicing law, Brooks enjoys spending time with his wife, son, and daughter, maintaining and improving his Portland home, hiking, biking, reading, listening to music, and eating good food. He is an avid whitewater kayaker with river descents in 18 states and Canada (and over 70 runs each on the class V Little White Salmon, White Salmon, and North Fork Payette rivers). He has played the saxophone for over 30 years, performing at music venues and charity events with a variety of different bands. Brooks speaks basic Spanish and is learning Portuguese with help from his wife, who is a Brazilian citizen.
Areas of Practice
- Environmental Services and Litigation 35%
- Insurance Coverage Services and Litigation 25%
- Real Estate Services and Litigation 20%
- Land Use Services and Litigation 10%
- Business Services and Litigation 10%
- 90% of Practice Devoted to Litigation
- Oregon, 2004
- U.S. District Court District of Oregon, 2005
- U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit, 2008
- Lewis and Clark College Northwestern School of Law, Portland, Oregon
- J.D. - 2004
- Honors: cum laude
- Honors: Environmental Certificate
- Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
- B.A. - 1999
- Honors: cum laude
- Major: Philosophy
- Employee and Community Right-to-Know Laws, 2006 Supplement, Oregon State Bar Continuing Legal Education, Supp, 2006
- McDonald v. Sun Oil Co., 631 F.2d 1263, 2008, 9th Cir.
- Obtained $380,000 settlement for homeowners from owners of adjacent property and owners of business that had formerly operated there, where business had allowed gasoline to leak from underground tanks and migrate for nineteen years through soil, onto client’s property, and under home before it was discovered.
- Obtained $250,000 settlement for landowner from parties that had arranged for disposal of hazardous substances at illegal landfill on property prior to landowner’s inheritance of property.
- Obtained settlement of $75,000 for homeowner with a creek polluted by a neighboring dairy in violation of Clean Water Act.
- Obtained over $70,000 in settlement and insurance coverage for home buyer where real estate agent failed to advise buyer to inspect heating oil tank prior to purchase and tank had leaked, requiring cleanup.
- Negotiated settlement releasing client, alleged former operator of historical navy ship, from claims for approximately $5,000,000 in liability related to hazardous substances released from ship, with all settlement payments coming from insurance company.
- Defended former manager of tannery from alleged seven-figure environmental liability, with all settlement payments coming from his insurance company.
- Obtained unconditional dismissal on behalf of landowner client of case by neighbor alleging negligent application of fertilizer by landowner’s independent contractor.
- Settled seven-figure claims for $150,000 on behalf of homeowner alleged to have caused flooding on neighboring property by allowing county to place construction waste on his property as fill, with all settlement payments coming from his insurance company.
- Obtained $1.25 million in settlement of oil company client’s insurance claims against former insurers arising from claims by state agencies for cleanup of environmental contamination at multiple retail and bulk petroleum facilities.
- Forced Washington gun club client’s former insurer to expend over $1 million to defend club against suit brought by county trying to shut it down.
- Obtained summary judgment for Oregon gun club client requiring its insurer to defend club against citizen suit alleging public nuisance, Clean Water Act, and solid waste violations, resulting in almost $1 million in defense coverage and settlement payments from insurer.
- Obtained $574,000 in settlement of claims by former beneficiary of life insurance policy arising from the wrongful termination of her benefits.
- Obtained over $375,000 in settlement and insurance coverage payments for disabled client from disability insurance carriers.
- Obtained $350,000 in settlement for owner of auto repair facility from insurer and independent insurance agent to cover losses from fire.
- Forced insurance company to defend small business against claims of soil and groundwater contamination by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, resulting in over $150,000 in defense coverage and settlement payments by insurer.
- Helped obtain arbitration award of over $380,000 for client who had purchased of mobile home park against seller for failure to disclose septic and water system defects.
- Helped obtain preliminary injunction against neighboring commercial property owner who was blocking access to client’s driveway and favorable settlement regarding parking and access to client’s commercial center.
- Obtained $67,500 in settlement of claims for elder financial abuse involving destruction of a portion of client’s front yard by adjacent landowner’s construction crew acting under a permit from the local government for expansion of the roadway.
- Obtained money award and favorable settlement limiting neighbor’s easement rights associated with access road on client’s property.
- Obtained verification from local government of client’s right to continue agricultural activities at his property as grandfathered nonconforming use after change in local code.
- Helped obtain court order for outdoor advertising company client requiring City of Salem to issue permits allowing client to upgrade six billboards with LED technology.
- Obtained authorization from local government for outdoor advertising company client to keep nonconforming billboard at historical location.
- Obtained court of appeals decision reversing trial decision that had prohibited gun club client from operating at its historical shooting range due to alleged land use violations and public nuisance conditions.
- Obtained court of appeals decision reversing trial decision that had prohibited certain activities at gun club property as remedy for expansions of nonconforming use.
- Negotiated unconditional dismissal of case brought by Board of Architect Examiners against interior designer client alleging client had practiced architecture without a license.
- Provided environmental risk assessment and negotiation services for bank client in transaction involving loan of over $29 million for redevelopment of contaminated property in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon.
- Provided environmental counsel to seller of property in North Portland for $2 million, eliminating proposed holdback of over $350,000 that buyer wanted on account of environmental conditions at the property.
- Represented owner in sale of business and property in Northeast Portland for $1.5 million where property had been part of a cleanup site remediated by Department of Environmental Quality.
- Represented buyer in successful purchase of contaminated property in Northwest Portland for $1,200,000, while requiring seller and seller’s insurer to complete cleanup of property after the sale.
- Represented seller of gas station and mini-mart business in successful sale for approximately $420,000 while property was undergoing lengthy environmental investigation.
- Represented owner in sale of commercial property in Salem where owner had previously completed environmental cleanup at the property with oversight from the Department of Environmental Quality.
- Represented landlord in negotiation of lease worth over $3 million to marijuana dispensary and retailer tenant.
- Obtained county’s approval of land use application for verification and alteration of nonconforming cannabis cultivation and production site, allowing it to continue after county amended zoning code to prohibit that use of the property and preserving value of client’s investment of over $500,000 into grow site at property.
- Case Law Update, Envtl & Nat Rscs Section of the Bar, 2009
Past Employment Positions
- Rycewicz & Chenoweth, Associate Attorney, 2004 to 2006
- Rycewicz & Chenoweth, Law Clerk, 2003 to 2004
- Holderness School, Faculty, 1999 to 2001