Jarlstrom v. Oregon Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying Board, by Arthur Schwartz

An Oregon man who was investigated and fined by a state board for unlicensed practice of engineering has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging the state’s definition of an engineer violates the First Amendment. Mats Jarlstrom, 56, was fined $500 after identifying himself as an engineer in emails he sent to Beaverton officials challenging Oregon’s timing of yellow traffic lights as too short. The Jarlstrom, who has a bachelor of science degree in engineering, has joined the Institute for Justice to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against members of the Oregon Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying.

The board’s attempt to keep people from calling themselves engineers if they’re not an Oregon-licensed professional engineer is a violation of their right to free speech, alleges Jarlstrom’s attorneys. “It’s important in my mind we can share ideas freely in Oregon to promote innovation,” Jarlstrom said. “I feel violated at this point in time.”

The state board has a history of investigations on others for using the word “engineer” including Portland City Council Commissioner Dan Saltzman, according to the lawsuit. A spokesman for the board declined to comment.

This is not Jarlstorm’s first lawsuit. In 2014, Jarlstorm’s filed a lawsuit against Beaverton that claimed the city’s yellow lights were too short at intersections. Even though the judge tossed out his lawsuit, Jarlstorm continued presenting his findings from his studies to local media, CBS News show “60 Minutes” and the annual Institute of Transportation Engineers last summer. His current lawsuit does not seek monetary damages