Dosanjh v. Namaste Indian Restaurant, LLC

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 06-24-2015
  • Case #: A153541
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Flynn, J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; & Lagesen, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Parties in civil actions are entitled to a jury instruction on their theory of the case if the requested instruction correctly states the law, is based on the pleadings, and is supported by the evidence. An error at the trial court is only grounds for reversal if it substantially affects the rights of a party such that when the instruction is considered in the totality of the evidence and the parties’ theories of the case, there is some likelihood that the jury reached a legally erroneous result.

Dosanjh appealed the trial court’s judgment for Namaste Indian Restaurant (Namaste) on Dosanjh’s wage claim, assigning error to the trial court’s failure to give two of Dosanjh’s requested jury instructions (special instructions five and eight). On appeal, Namaste argued that Dosanjh failed to preserve her jury instruction argument below. The Court held that while preservation arguments for jury instructions are generally governed by preservation principles generally, since the trial court gave no instruction on the concept iterated by instruction number eight Dosanjh adequately preserved the instruction argument. The failure to give the instruction was error, as parties in civil actions are entitled to a jury instruction on their theory of the case if the requested instruction correctly states the law, is based on the pleadings, and is supported by the evidence. But an error at the trial court is only grounds for reversal if it “substantially affect[s] the rights of a party.” ORS 19.415(2). A party’s rights are affected when the instruction is considered in the totality of the evidence and the parties’ theories of the case, and where there is “some likelihood” that the jury reached a legally erroneous result. The Court found that the trial court could have confused Dosanjh’s wage claim and Namaste’s counterclaim for conversion, and thus there is “some likelihood” that the jury reached a legally erroneous result. Reversed and remanded on Dosanjh’s wage claim, otherwise affirmed.

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