Justia Oregon Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Products Liability
Vasquez v. Double Press Mfg., Inc.
Defendant Double Press Manufacturing, Inc. petitioned for review of a Court of Appeals decision affirming a trial court judgment against defendant that included an award of noneconomic damages to plaintiff Zeferino Vasquez, in the amount of $4,860,000. In the course of his employment with a feed dealer, plaintiff was responsible for operating and cleaning a machine used in hay baling. One day in 2010, plaintiff did not follow the machine's shut-down procedure; to remove jammed material, plaintiff climbed into an area of the machine where a hydraulic ram was located. The machine, still in automatic mode, pinched plaintiff between a hydraulic ram and the frame of the machine, crushing his spine and causing other injuries. As a result of those injuries, plaintiff was rendered paraplegic. Defendant contended the Court of Appeals erred in concluding that the remedy clause of Article I, section 10, of the Oregon Constitution precluded a reduction of plaintiff’s noneconomic damages to $500,000 in accordance with the statutory damages cap set out in ORS 31.710(1). Plaintiff requested review of another aspect of the decision, arguing that the Court of Appeals erroneously rejected his statutory argument that his claim was exempt from the damages cap. The Oregon Supreme Court agreed with plaintiff, and affirmed the judgment of the trial court and the decision of the Court of Appeals, but on different grounds, namely, that plaintiff’s claim fell within a statutory exception to the damages cap for “claims subject to * * * ORS chapter 656.” View "Vasquez v. Double Press Mfg., Inc." on Justia Law
Pearson v. Philip Morris, Inc.
Plaintiffs were two individuals who purchased Marlboro Light cigarettes in Oregon. Defendant Philip Morris was the company that manufactured, marketed, and sold Marlboro Lights. Plaintiffs brought this action under Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act (UTPA), alleging that defendant misrepresented that Marlboro Lights would deliver less tar and nicotine than regular Marlboros and that, as a result of that misrepresentation, plaintiffs suffered economic losses. Plaintiffs moved to certify a class consisting of approximately 100,000 individuals who had purchased at least one pack of Marlboro Lights in Oregon over a 30-year period (from 1971 to 2001). The trial court denied plaintiffs’ motion after concluding that individual inquiries so predominated over common ones that a class action was not a superior means to adjudicate the putative class’s UTPA claim. On appeal, a majority of the Court of Appeals disagreed with the trial court’s predominance assessment, concluding that the essential elements of the UTPA claim could be proved through evidence common to the class. The majority remanded to the trial court to reconsider whether, without the trial court’s predominance assessment, a class action was a superior means of litigating the class claims. In granting defendant’s petition for review, the Supreme Court considered whether common issues predominated for purposes of the class action certification decision, and what a private plaintiff in a UTPA case of this nature had to prove. The Supreme Court concluded that the trial court properly denied class certification, and accordingly, it reversed the contrary decision of the Court of Appeals and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings on the individual plaintiffs’ claims. View "Pearson v. Philip Morris, Inc." on Justia Law
Two Two v. Fujitec America, Inc.
Plaintiffs Linda Two Two and Patricia Fodge filed a complaint against defendant that included claims for negligence and strict liability. Plaintiffs alleged that they had been injured in separate incidents in 2008 when an elevator in the building in which they worked dropped unexpectedly and stopped abruptly. In their negligence claim, plaintiffs alleged that defendant had negligently designed, installed, and maintained that elevator and that defendant's negligence was the direct and proximate cause of plaintiffs' injuries. In their strict liability claim, plaintiffs alleged that defendant had designed, installed, and constructed the elevator and that the elevator was defective and dangerous. Defendant sought summary judgment on both claims. The trial court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment on both claims. Upon review of the trial court record, the Supreme Court decided that the trial court erred in granting defendant's motion for summary judgment on plaintiffs' negligence claim, but did not err in granting defendant's motion for summary judgment on plaintiffs' strict liability claim. View "Two Two v. Fujitec America, Inc." on Justia Law
Purdy v. Deere & Company
In this product liability action, plaintiff appealed a judgment for defendants after a jury trial. The Court of Appeals affirmed without considering the merits of nine of plaintiff's ten assignments of instructional and evidentiary error. Plaintiff contended on appeal that, in so holding, the Court of Appeals misconstrued the standard for reversal in ORS 19.415(2) as it applied to claims of instructional and evidentiary error like those that the court declined to consider. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the appellate court erred in its reasoning for not considering all of plaintiff's arguments. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded this case to the Court of Appeals to address plaintiff's assignments of error. View "Purdy v. Deere & Company" on Justia Law