Paul J. Sundermier

Paul Sundermier makes sure his private clients’ Constitutional rights are protected in the specialized area of eminent domain – the power of the government to take private property and put it to public use. When representing the government-side, he helps the governing body follow constitutional and procedural law.

Paul became interested in this area of law because of the guidance of a very experienced mentor. He feels he keeps alive that lawyer’s legacy of exemplary relations with his clients and his excellent trial skills.

Paul is a proud veteran of the US Army, 1966-1972 active and reserve. He was the President of the Salem chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association for several years. While employed as Assistant Attorney General, he was one of the most awarded members for special service.

Practice Areas


Willamette University College of Law

J.D., 1982

Rutgers University, Sociology

B.A., 1971

Professional Activities

  • Willamette Valley American Inn of Court
  • Marion County Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Oregon State Bar Litigation Section, Real Estate and Land Use Section, and Military and Veterans Section
  • Co-chair of The Seminar Group’s Annual Oregon Eminent Domain Conference

Full History

First the earth cooled… then the dinosaurs came… then Sundermier was born.

I grew up in New Jersey and attended Rutgers University. BA in Sociology 1971. I was in the US Army in 1966 -1968. I was a Military Policeman. Served in Korea the year of 1967. Defended Washington, D.C. during the riots in 1968.

I worked as a Criminal Investigator for the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office from 1972 to 1979 (think Soprano Country). I worked organized crime, and was an arson expert and an auto theft and fraud expert. I was NOT transferred to Oregon under a witness protection program as some of my colleagues maintained. I had regularly been encouraged to go to law school by some well-respected lawyers – so I finally decided to do it.

I attended Willamette University College of Law along with my 1954 Austin-Healey that I shipped out here. I graduated in 1982, sold my Healey to take the bar review and, luckily, passed the bar. I clerked for the United States Attorney, Sid Lezak, in my second year. There I was able to try several cases in magistrate’s court and argued motions in US District Court. I clerked for Paul De Muniz at Garrett Hemann Robertson in my third year and assisted at trials. I clerked for a short time at the Oregon Department of Justice involving a government corruption investigation.

I was hired by the Oregon Department of Justice in 1982. I worked first as the Chief Investigator for Trial Division until I was made an Assistant Attorney General in the new Financial Fraud Section. I became the State’s antitrust lawyer, the primary civil RICO litigator and also did consumer fraud cases until 1989. I was involved in several multi-district litigation cases with the National Association of Attorneys General antitrust task force. I initiated the investigations into workers compensation fraud against SAIF by a cabal of chiropractors and tried the three successful racketeering cases that resulted in verdicts for SAIF. I led the investigation against former Speaker of the House and Chairman of SAIF, Monty Montgomery, which led to his prosecution.

I then became counsel to many of the professional licensing agencies at the State, including the Real Estate Agency, Board of Medical Examiners, Racing Commission, Chiropractic Board, Naturopathic Board, and others. I estimate that I did in excess of 1,000 contested case hearings over nine years. Many of my cases became “APA black letter law” in the appellate stage.

In 1998, I re-joined the Trial Division where I became one of two litigators handling eminent domain matters. I have tried direct condemnation week-long jury trials all over Oregon. I have tried several inverse condemnation cases, including the two Spotted Owl cases that affirmed the “whole parcel rule” in regulatory takings cases in Oregon. I also tried several construction contract cases successfully for ODOT. I was lead counsel for the Ross Brothers racketeering case that led to the debarment of that firm. I litigated the KT Contracting case in Marion County which resulted in a voluntary dismissal by the plaintiff at the end of the first week of trial and sanctions on the contractor. I became a mentor to many newer Assistant Attorneys General.

I began lecturing on eminent domain matters about 10 years ago. I am now the co-chair of the annual Eminent Domain Seminar held in Portland in June. I have attended many of the ALI national eminent domain seminars. I am recognized by my peers and many judges as one of the dozen or so eminent domain expert litigators in Oregon.

I “retired” from the Department of Justice at the end of 2011 (after 29 years). I started my own practice – – located in Salem. With only a couple of exceptions, my practice is all eminent domain cases.

I look forward to my association, of counsel, with Saalfeld Griggs, PC, both because of its business/professional reputation and because I know and have enjoyed the camaraderie of many of its lawyers. In fact, Hunter Emerick and I were classmates (even though he’s much younger). Jim Griggs was one of the first lawyers I talked to professionally in Salem – when I was in law school and starting Discovery School. He kindly gave me some free advice that I took to heart.

Off the Job

Paul has been a sports car enthusiast for 50 years. Currently, he owns a 1961 Austin-Healey 3000 and a 1971 Datsun 240Z. His other ‘hobby’ is spending time and adventuring with his grandchildren. His wife, Lynn, is the Director of Discovery School of Dance. Most people know her as ‘Doctor Madame’.