Knappenberger v. Davis-Stanton

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Law
  • Date Filed: 05-13-2015
  • Case #: A148999
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Armstrong, J. for the Court; Duncan; & Haselton
  • Full Text Opinion

ORS 12.150 tolls the statute of limitations for defendants who cannot be served with process in state, and does not implicate the Commerce Clause when a defendant moves out of state for non-commercial reasons.

Plaintiff Knappenberger appealed a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) from the trial court. In 2009, Knappenberger brought the present claims for “account stated” and quantum meruit against the Defendant, Davis-Stanton, for claims arising in 2002, despite the six-year statute of limitations. At trial, the jury ruled in Knappenberger’s favor based on ORS 12.150, which provides that the statute of limitations on a claim tolls if the defendant moves out of state. Davis-Stanton moved out of Oregon in 2003. The trial court granted Davis-Stanton’s motion for JNOV and overturned the jury’s verdict, reasoning that ORS 12.150 violated the Commerce Clause in this case by burdening the defendant’s ability to move freely from state to state, and therefore does not apply. The Court addressed two questions: whether ORS 12.150 applies to an out of state defendant who can receive service of process by mail or publication, and whether ORS 12.150 violates the Commerce Clause in this case. The Court concluded that if service of process within the state is not possible, personally or through a representative agent, then ORS 12.150 applies and the statute of limitations is tolled. The Court also held that ORS 12.150 does not implicate the Commerce Clause in this instance because there was no evidence that Davis-Stanton’s move was for commercial reasons, including obtaining employment or otherwise pursuing commercial endeavors. Therefore, the trial court erred in granting Davis-Stanton’s JNOV motion. Reversed and remanded with instructions to reinstate the jury’s verdict for Knappenberger.

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