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Ouma v. Skipton

Court of Appeals of Oregon

December 3, 2014

WASHIE OUMA, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CODY DOUGLAS SKIPTON, Defendant-Respondent

Argued and Submitted September 16, 2014.

Washington County Circuit Court. C111814CV. Gayle Ann Nachtigal, Judge.

Marianne Dugan argued the cause and filed the briefs for appellant.

Nik T. Chourey argued the cause and filed the brief for respondent.

Before Duncan, Presiding Judge, and Lagesen, Judge, and Wollheim, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 125

[267 Or.App. 407] LAGESEN, J.

This case arises out of an automobile accident. Plaintiff sued defendant for negligence, and defendant admitted liability. The case was tried on the issue of damages, and the trial court ultimately directed a verdict for defendant on both economic and noneconomic damages. The issue on appeal is whether the trial court erred in directing a verdict for defendant on noneconomic damages; in particular, the issue is whether the trial court erred in directing the verdict on noneconomic damages on the ground that plaintiff failed to establish causation because plaintiff did not present medical evidence showing that the automobile accident caused any of plaintiff's alleged injuries. We conclude that the trial court erred and, accordingly, reverse.

Page 126

Defendant's pickup truck ran into plaintiff's car while plaintiff was stopped at a stoplight. Plaintiff sued defendant, alleging that the collision resulted from defendant's negligence and caused plaintiff to suffer " physical pain, anguish, and suffering," along with fractures to his teeth and a lengthy catalog of other temporary and permanent injuries. Plaintiff further alleged that he had incurred $55,000 in economic damages and noneconomic damages in an amount " not to exceed the sum of $100,000.00" as a result of those injuries.

As noted, defendant admitted liability. As a result, the focus of trial was plaintiff's alleged damages. In support of his case, plaintiff testified, among other things:

" When I was hit I realized I was forced from the road. The impact forced my vehicle from the road, and--and the damage was quite severe. I didn't--I have no recollection what kind of pain I was feeling that time, but later on, maybe after a few minutes I noticed that--that I was in very serious pain. I realized that I had a fracture in my tooth. I realized that--that I can't move. I couldn't move my shoulder very well. I realized all kinds of pain."

Plaintiff attempted to introduce testimony from his treating chiropractor to prove that he had sustained, beyond just immediate pain and suffering, a number of the specific [267 Or.App. 408] injuries that the complaint alleged were caused by the accident. The trial court ultimately struck that testimony in its entirety, on the ground that the chiropractor never testified that, in his opinion, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the injuries for which he treated plaintiff were caused by the collision.

At the close of plaintiff's case, defendant moved for a directed verdict on economic damages on the ground that plaintiff had presented no evidence that the accident had caused him any economic loss. The trial court granted the motion. Later, at the close of defendant's case, defendant moved for a directed verdict on noneconomic damages. Defendant argued that plaintiff had failed to present legally sufficient evidence that the collision had caused any injuries, because plaintiff had not introduced medical testimony on causation, and that, therefore, plaintiff could not recover any damages for pain and suffering. The trial court granted that motion on the ground that plaintiff had not presented sufficient evidence of causation: " There's no diagnosis, or no doctors. You didn't call any of your treating physicians and get them to testify about the causal connection." Based on those rulings, the trial court entered a general judgment in favor of defendant. Plaintiff timely appealed; on appeal, plaintiff assigns error to the trial court's decision to ...


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