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Morgan v. Sisters School District #6

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 01-17-2013
Case #: S059465
Landau, J. for the Court; Balmer, C.J.; Durham, S.J.; DeMuniz, S.J; Kistler, J.; Walters, J.; and Linder, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/S059465.pdf

Civil Procedure: To properly have standing, three considerations must be met: (1) there must be "some injury or other impact upon a legally recognized interest beyond an abstract interest in the correct application or the validity of a law;" (2) the injury must be real or probable, not hypothetical or speculative; and (3) the court's decision must have a practical effect on the rights that the plaintiff is seeking to vindicate.

Morgan appealed the decision of the Court of Appeals which affirmed the judgment of the Circuit Court that stated Morgan did not have standing. Sisters School District passed a resolution that required the issuance of "certificates of participation." Morgan believed the certificates were actually bonds and that issuance was proper only after a majority of electors had approved the resolution. Morgan sued the school district and sought declaratory relief that the certificates were actually bonds and that the district "wrongfully failed to obtain the approval of the voters." Morgan claimed standing as a voter and as a taxpayer. The school district filed for summary judgment, claiming that Morgan lacked standing, which the trial court granted. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court laid out three considerations necessary for standing: (1) there must be "some injury or other impact upon a legally recognized interest beyond an abstract interest in the correct application or the validity of a law", (2) the injury must be real or probable, not hypothetical or speculative, and (3) the court's decision must have a practical effect on the rights that the plaintiff is seeking to vindicate. The Court held that Morgan lacked standing as a voter because the relief would have no effect on his right to vote, and that standing as a taxpayer was lacking because the injury was too speculative. A third theory advanced at the Supreme Court, standing based on a hybrid mesh of voter and taxpayer, failed due to both speculative damages and the inability of the decision to have a practical effect on his rights. Affirmed.