Civil litigation defense attorney for Oregon churches and religious schools - Kaempf Law Firm

John Kaempf is a civil litigation defense attorney for Oregon churches and religious schools, and he defends child abuse claims in Oregon against corporations and individuals

Kaempf Law Firm PC: Oregon civil defense trial counsel.

Kaempf Law Firm's offices are location in Portland, Oregon

Kaempf Law Firm PC is based in Portland, Oregon and defends civil litigation in Oregon's state and federal courts.

John Kaempf is a civil trial lawyer based in Portland, Oregon who specializes in defending lawsuits against churches and religious schools, including child abuse claims. He also defends individuals sued in Oregon for alleged child abuse. He further specializes in defending employment litigation against religious and secular corporations. In his 25 years of practice, He has successfully tried over 20 cases to Oregon juries and has won many other cases through pretrial motions. His practice encompasses both trial and appellate work.

John is a cum laude 1992 graduate of Lewis and Clark Law School. He is a lifelong Oregonian and is recognized by his peers as one of The "Best Lawyers in America." He has also been honored as an Oregon Super Lawyer," which recognizes the top 5% of attorneys, every year the award has been given. In addition, he has an AV Peer Review Rating with Martindale-Hubbell, an award that recognizes the highest level of skill and integrity. His law firm is one of America’s “Best Law Firms” as selected by U.S. News & World Report.

He is the author and publisher of Oregon Religious Law Update, a newsletter that addresses developments in Oregon and national law that affect churches, religious schools, and other religious organizations in Oregon. A link to the Oregon Religious Law Update Blog is above.

Before opening his own practice, he worked for more than 15 years at one of Oregon's largest civil defense firms. Thus, John combines big firm experience with the highly responsive approach of a small firm.

Specialty Areas

John Kaempf is an Oregon civil trial lawyer who specializes in defending churches, religious schools, and other religious entities sued in Oregon. This includes the defense of child abuse claims based on the alleged conduct of employees, including priests and teachers. John has expertise in First Amendment free exercise of religion defenses to civil claims against religious entities. He also defends claims by church members, church and religious school employees, and tort claims by third parties against religious organizations. John has 25 years of experience defending child abuse claims against religious organizations and individuals in Oregon. This includes claims based on the alleged sexual abuse of a minor. He has extensive experience defending these cases based on the statute of limitations and an employer's lack of vicarious liability for its employee's alleged conduct. He has won many of these cases at both the trial court and appellate court levels in Oregon. He has defended some of the largest child abuse cases ever filed in Oregon.

Representative Cases

Defending Child Abuse Claims Against Religious Entities

The Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment for John's clients in J.S. v. Franciscan Friars of Oregon, 215 Or. App. 500, 170 P.3d 8 (2007), a case involving alleged child abuse by a Catholic priest. The court upheld the trial court's rulings that the defendants were not vicariously liable for the priest's alleged sexual abuse of the plaintiff, and that plaintiff's claims were barred by the statute of limitations because the alleged abuse occurred decades earlier.

Obtained the pretrial dismissal of a multi-million dollar child abuse action filed against a major international church and one of its former pastors. The trial court ruled that, even assuming the alleged sexual abuse occurred, the case was barred by the statute of limitations. The case is JMS, et al. v. Roberts, et al., Multnomah County Circuit Court case number 0705-05015.

Defending Churches and Religious Schools

Defended a religious high school in an Oregon state court action where the plaintiffs, a former student and his parents, sued for readmission to the school and sought money damages after the school expelled the student for engaging in misconduct at school. In 2013, the trial court granted John’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case, holding that it was barred by the First Amendment's free exercise of religion clause; the school’s student handbook granted it the sole discretion to decide disciplinary issues; and the claimed damages were speculative and thus not recoverable.


John represented the Multnomah Athletic Club (MAC) in its successful defense of a lawsuit brought by a club member expelled by the MAC who sought readmission to the club. The Oregon Channel televised John's oral argument of the appeal of this case. The Oregon Court of Appeals' decision in the MAC's favor, which affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the lawsuit based on the statute of limitations that John obtained, is published as Wiederhorn v. Multnomah Athletic Club, 215 Or. App. 392, 170 P.3d 1 (2007).

The Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment John obtained for his client, the Oregon State Snowmobile Association, in a $15,000,000 wrongful death case where the plaintiff died as a result of a snowmobiling accident. The court ruled that the lawsuit is barred by Oregon’s "recreational purposes" immunity statute. The case is reported as Stewart v. Kralman, 240 Or. App. 510, 248 P.3d 6 (2011).

The Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed the jury's decision to not award the plaintiffs any noneconomic (emotional distress) damages in a personal injury action based on John's argument that the Oregon Constitution prevents judges from re-examining factual disputes that are for the jury to decide. The case is reported as Estate of Ibarra v. Lilly, 245 Or App 294, 263 P3d 1053 (2011).