Miller v. Columbia County

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Law
  • Date Filed: 11-16-2016
  • Case #: A158838
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: DeHoog, J. for the court; Sercombe, P.j.; & Edmonds, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Probable cause for an arrest defeats any claim of false arrest.

Columbia County appealed from a judgment awarding damages and costs entered for Plaintiff, Miller in a civil action for false arrest and malicious prosecution. Columbia County raises five assignments of error; second being the trial court’s denial of directed-verdict motions.  A directed verdict is appropriate if there is no evidence from which a jury can draw from to establish each element of a party’s claim. Ballard v. City of Albany, 221 Or App 630, 639, 191 P3d (2008). Columbia County argues that because the arresting officer had probable cause to believe Miller committed crime, Miller’s claim fails as a matter of law. The existence of probable cause for an arrest “necessarily defeats a claim of false arrest.” Leroy v. Witt, 12 Or App 629, 631, 508 P2d 453 (1973). The trial court erred in denying Columbia County’s motion for directed verdict by “declining to answer those legal questions and, instead, treating them as fact questions for the jury.” Reversed and remanded. 

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