Lunsford v. NCH Corp.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 04-26-2017
  • Case #: A154902
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Flynn, J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; & Lagesen, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

ORS 30.905(3)(b) (2008) does not violate the remedy clause of Article I, Section 10 or the jury clause of Article I, Section 17, because “[i]t is a permissible constitutional legislative function to balance the possibility of outlawing legitimate claims against the public need that at some definite time there be an end to potential litigation.” Sealey v. Hicks, 309 Or 387, 396, 788 P2d 435 (1990).

On remand from the Supreme Court for reconsideration in light of the Court’s opinion in Horton v. OHSU 359 Or 168, 376 P3d 998 (2016), which overruled Smothers v. Gresham Transfer, Inc., 332 Or 83, 23 P3d 333 (2001), on which the earlier the Court of Appeals decision relied. On remand, Plaintiff argued that the limitation in ORS 30.905 (2008) violated Article I, section 10, and Article I, section 17, of the Oregon Constitution. Defendant argued that plaintiff’s claim was barred by the products liability statute of ultimate repose, ORS 30.905(1) (2008). The statute of ultimate repose for products liability claims, ORS 30.905(3)(b) (2008) does not violate the remedy clause of Article I, Section 10 or the jury clause of Article I, Section 17, because “[i]t is a permissible constitutional legislative function to balance the possibility of outlawing legitimate claims against the public need that at some definite time there be an end to potential litigation.” Sealey v. Hicks, 309 Or 387, 396, 788 P2d 435 (1990). In Horton the Supreme Court held “Smothers clearly erred in holding that the remedy clause locks courts and the legislature into a static conception of the common law as it existed in 1857” Citing Horton, the Court of Appeals described Article I, section 17 as a provision that “guarantees the right to a trial by a jury (as opposed to a trial by a judge) in civil actions for which the common law provided a jury trial when the Oregon constitution was adopted in 1857 and in cases of like nature.” The Court held Horton foreclosed both of Plaintiff’s constitutional challenges. Affirmed on appeal; cross appeal dismissed as moot. 

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