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Catt v. Dept. of Human Services

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 08-01-2012
Case #: A146815
Schuman, P.J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A146815.pdf

Civil Procedure: When there is a question of fact about the occurrence of a claimant’s knowledge of his or her injury, summary judgment is not appropriate if such knowledge, or lack thereof, will affect timely notice as required under ORS 30.275.

Lisa Catt (Lisa) and Blanca Catt (Blanca) appealed the Department of Human Services' (DHS) granted motion for summary judgment. In 1990, Blanca was born in Mexico and smuggled into America in 1993. In 1996, because of abuse, DHS placed Blanca with Lisa who later sought to obtain Blanca’s citizenship and adopt Blanca. In 1999, Blanca’s adoption was finalized and DHS informed Lisa that Blanca’s citizenship would occur automatically due to her adoption. In 2007, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services told Blanca she could not receive proof of citizenship because of her illegal entry into the U.S. In 2009, Lisa retained immigration attorneys who informed her that because Blanca was over eighteen, Blanca would have to leave the U.S. for three years. Lisa and Blanca sued DHS for negligence because of their mishandling and misrepresentations concerning Blanca's pre and post-adoption. At trial, the court granted DHS’s motion for summary judgment under ORS 30.275 because of Catt’s failure to provide timely notice to DHS of their post-adoption claim, and because of the statute of ultimate repose for their pre-adoption claim. The Catts appealed, and the Court of Appeals held the trial court correctly dismissed the pre-adoption claim under the statute of ultimate repose because that injury had occurred more than ten years prior. However, the post-adoption claim and tort claim had a factual question as to when the Catts knew or should have known of their injury. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.