Piazza v. Kellim

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Law
  • Date Filed: 07-21-2016
  • Case #: S063442
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Brewer, J. for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

In a negligence action, foreseeability requires a trier of fact, preferably a jury, to be able to find from concrete facts that a reasonable person in the position of Defendant reasonably would have foreseen that the person or location and circumstances poses a risk of criminal harm to persons.

Defendants appealed the Court of Appeals’ reversal of a motion to dismiss in Defendants’ favor. Plaintiff, representing the estate of Martha Delgado, alleged that she was shot and killed while waiting in line on a public sidewalk outside a teenage nightclub. The trial court held, and the Court of Appeals reversed, that Plaintiff failed to allege facts that were sufficient to permit a reasonable juror to find that Delgado’s death was a reasonably foreseeable result of Defendant’s conduct. In the foreseeability analysis many sets of factual circumstances, multiple considerations including the place and character of the location of a criminal act, and the occurrence of prior similar acts are relevant. The common requirement is that a trier of fact, preferably the jury, must be able to find from concrete facts that a reasonable person in the position of Defendant reasonably would have foreseen that the person or location and circumstances poses a risk of criminal harm to persons such as plaintiff. The Court generally defers to the jury’s determination of foreseeability, except in extreme cases where no reasonable person could find the harm of the plaintiff was reasonably foreseeable. Also, a narrow focus on the actual sequence of events that led to a particular injury to a particular person “misunderstands foreseeable risk.” Foreseeability looks at the generalized risk of the types of incidents and injuries that occurred, not the predictability of the actual sequence of events. Affirmed; remanded to Circuit Court for further proceedings.

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