Zielinski v. State of Oregon

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 02-11-2015
  • Case #: A154900
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Garrett, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; & DeVore, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

There is a rebuttable presumption that the elements of the doctrine of laches have been sufficiently proven, and therefore apply, when an analogous statute of limitations for an action at law has been exceeded.

Zielinski sought a declaratory judgment to compel the state to construct a railroad crossing on their property according to the terms of a 1906 deed. In 1906, the then owner of the property conveyed a 50-foot wide strip of land to the Oregon Electric Railway Company; under this agreement, the company agreed to “construct and maintain one crossing when wanted by the grantor,” along with a fence on both sides. At one point, a crossing and fence were built, but had fallen into disrepair by the 1960s, and had ceased to exist by 2000. Zielinski acquired the property in 2008, and the state acquired the right of way in 1998. The trial court granted Zielinski’s motion for summary judgment, finding laches did not apply. On appeal, the State argued the terms of the contract were satisfied, and the demand for new construction was not within a reasonable time and thusly barred by laches. The Court held there was a rebuttable presumption that the doctrine of laches applied because “[t]he analogous statute of limitations that applies to the breach of a 1906 deed is 10 years,” shifting the burden to Zielinski to show the doctrine did not apply. The trial court erred in granting Zielinski’s motion for summary judgment. Reversed and remanded.

Advanced Search