Hale v. State
Case #: A150572
Schuman, P.J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; and Duncan, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A150572.pdf
Civil Procedure: To grant an action for declaratory judgment, the complaint must state a justiciable controversy. A justiciable controversy must include present facts, not an issue based on future events, and must result in specific relief through a binding decree, not a non-binding advisory opinion.
Hale sought a declaratory judgment of the constitutionality of the “Right to Farm and Right to Forest Act” (the Act), ORS 30.930 to 30.947. The Act gives property owners immunity when sued for nuisance or trespass resulting from farm or forest use, not including certain exceptions. Hale, an organic and sustainable farm and forest practicing property owner, previously sued neighbors for chemical intrusion under a trespass claim, but voluntarily dismissed the claim. In this case, Hale claims that the Act deprives them of a remedy and violates Article I, section 10, of the Oregon Constitution. The trial court dismissed the case with prejudice, asserting that Hale did not state a justiciable controversy. In order for a court to grant an action for declaratory judgment, the complaint must state a justiciable controversy. For a controversy to be justiciable, it must include present facts, not an issue based on future events, and the controversy must result in specific relief through a binding decree, not a non-binding advisory opinion. The Court held that Hale's action was not justiciable. While Hale sought a judgment declaring the Act unconstitutional, which involved present facts, the Court could not provide Hale with specific relief through a binding decree. To declare the Act unconstitutional will have no material impact upon Hale. Affirmed.