Kaste v. Land O'Lakes Purina Feed, LLC 

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Contract Law
  • Date Filed: 03-08-2017
  • Case #: A156764
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Lagesen, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; & Wollheim, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

When a term in a contract is susceptible to multiple reasonable interpretations, it is ambiguous, and it cannot be a basis on which to grant a directed verdict using one interpretation. 

Defendant appealed a judgement awarding Plaintiffs damages for contract and tort claims. Defendant assigned error to the trial court’s denial of its motion for a directed verdict on all claims. On appeal, Defendant that argued the contract and tort claims should not have gone to the jury, contending that (1) Plaintiffs did not adequately plead or prove recoverable contract damages, and (2) the trial court erred in concluding the parties’ contract did not bar Plaintiffs from recovering tort damages, or in the alternative, did not limit the amount Plaintiffs recovery on tort claims. The Court of Appeals held that when a term in a contract is susceptible to multiple reasonable interpretations, it is ambiguous, and it cannot be a basis on which to grant a directed verdict using one interpretation. The Court concluded the provision in the parties’ contract limiting Defendant, read in context, could be interpreted to apply only to contract claims. Therefore, because it did not clearly signal an intention to restrict tort recovery, the Court concluded the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion on the ground that the provision precluded Plaintiffs from recovering on tort claims or limiting recovery on those claims.  Affirmed. 

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