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Miller v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division

October 27, 2014

ALINE MILLER, Plaintiff,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, a Delaware Corporation, Defendant.

ORDER

LEGROME D. DAVIS, District Judge.

Plaintiff brings this action for product liability against Ford for damages arising from a fire allegedly originating in plaintiffs Ford Escape. Plaintiff alleges that the fire spread to and damaged her dwelling and that she fractured her heel in a fall while escaping the fire. The action was originally filed in the Circuit Court of the State of Oregon, but Ford removed it to this court on the basis of diversity.

Presently before the court is Ford's motion (#10) for summary judgment. Ford contends that Oregon's Statue of Ultimate Respose bars plaintiff from recovery for any damages caused by the fire.

Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 allows the granting of summary judgment:

if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). There must be no genuine issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

The movant has the initial burden of establishing that no genuine issue of material fact exists or that a material fact essential to the nonmovant's claim is missing. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322-24 (1986). Once the movant has met its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmovant to produce specific evidence to establish a genuine issue of material fact or to establish the existence of all facts material to the claim. Id, ; see also, Bhan v. NME Hosp, Inc. , 929 F.2d 1404, 1409 (9th Cir. 1991); Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co, Ltd., v. Fritz Cos., Inc. , 210 F.3d 1099, 1105 (9th Cir. 2000). In order to meet this burden, the nonmovant "may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading, " but must instead "set out specific facts showing a genuine issue of fact for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

Material facts which preclude entry of summary judgment are those which, under applicable substantive law, may affect the outcome of the case. Anderson , 477 U.S. at 248. Factual disputes are genuine if they "properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Id . On the other hand, if, after the court has drawn all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmovant, "the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, " summary judgment may be granted. Id.

Discussion

Defendant states that the outcome of this case is dictated by examining the text, context, and legislative history of the 2009 amendments to ORS 30.905(2). The court's task in construing a statutory provision is to discern the intent of the legislative body that adopted the provision. ORS 174.020; PGE v. Bureau of Labor and Industries , 317 Or 606, 610, 859 P.2d 1143 (1993). To discern legislative intent, the court begins by examining the statutory text and context and, if it appears useful to the analysis, any legislative history offered by the parties. ORS 174.020; State v. Gaines , 346 Or 160, 171-72, 206 P.3d 1042 (2008). "A statute should, if possible, be construed as to avoid absurd or unreasonable results." James v. Carnation Co. , 278 Or 65, 72-73, 562 P.2d 1192 (1977). A court should also be guided by the "rules of construction of the statutory text that bear directly on how to read the text." PGE , 317 Or at 611, 859 P.2d 1143. Thus, for example, the court may not "insert what has been omitted, or... omit what has been inserted." Id .; see also ORS 174.010. In determining the context, Oregon courts look at provisions of the same statute and other related statutes. Id.

Oregon's product liability Statute of Ultimate Repose, as adopted in 2009, provides as follows:

(2) A product liability civil action for personal injury or property damage must be ...

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