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Jenkins v. Portland Housing Authority

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 12-18-2013
Case #: A147522
Wollheim, J. for the Court; Schuman, P.J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A147522.pdf

Tort Law: The Oregon Tort Claims Act is applicable when a duty arises from statute or common law, and is independent from the terms of a specific contract.

Jenkins appealed the trial court's grant of summary judgment against her. Jenkins rented an apartment ran by the Portland Housing Authority (PHA). Jenkins was in the hallway of her apartment building when she slipped in a puddle of water. The water was from a leaking washing machine in the nearby laundry room. Jenkins sustained injuries to her foot and ankle because of the fall. Jenkins sued her landlord, PHA under the Oregon Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (ORLTA), which contained habitability provisions. The trial court held that the Oregon Tort Claims Act (OTCA) granted PHA discretionary immunity as a public body. On appeal, Jenkins claimed the trial court erred because the immunity defense was not available to claims brought under the ORLTA. Jenkins argued that her claim arose under a rental agreement or contract and not tort. The Court held that Jenkins' claim was one of tort and did not arise under a contract. Claims against a public body based on statutory duties under the ORLTA that are not defined in the rental agreement are subjected to the OTCA. Because Jenkins' claim did not arise under a specific provision in the rental agreement, the OTCA applied and PHA was immune to liability as a public body. Affirmed.