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Purdy v. Deere and Company

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 04-17-2014
Case #: S060993
En Banc & Brewer, J. for the Court
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/S060993.pdf

Appellate Procedure: ORS 19.415(2) does not preclude instructional or evidentiary errors from the gambit of potential claims for reversal.

Plaintiff appealed a judgment for Defendant pertaining to a products liability action. Defendant's lawnmowing product severely hurt Plaintiff's daughter when Plaintiff backed over her while the blades were spinning. Plaintiff claimed that such harm would never have occurred but for Defendant's negligence in design of the lawnmower. After return of a verdict for Defendant, Plaintiff appealed assigning ten instructional and evidentiary errors. The Court of Appeals immediately affirmed stating that anything less would be precluded by ORS 19.415 (2). Furthermore, where instructional or evidentiary claims of error intersect issues of jury determination or causation at tort, ORS 19.415(2) precluded review because jury determination and causation were not relevant issues and therefore assignments of error to those issues were harmless. On review, the Supreme Court took note of Lyons v. Walsh & Sons Trucking Co., Ltd. 337 Or 319, 96 P3d 1215 (2004) which the Court of Appeals took as controlling and which necessitated reversal only in cases of error which "substantially affected his or her rights" or issues outside such scope brought to the Court via special verdict forms only. Realizing the highly restrictive nature of opportunity for reversal given the Lyons ruling in the context of ORS 19.415(2), the Supreme Court overruled Lyons and held that a party properly establishes substantial affect in any instance where that party also proves a likelihood that the jury reached an erroneous result. Reversed and remanded.