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Robbins v. City of Medford

Court of Appeals of Oregon

March 29, 2017

Dylan ROBBINS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CITY OF MEDFORD, Defendant-Respondent, and MEDFORD URBAN RENEWAL AGENCY and Katherine Warren, Defendants.

          Argued and Submitted March 3, 2016

          Jackson County Circuit Court 126140L2; Benjamin M. Bloom, Judge.

          Dennis H. Black argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs was Black, Chapman, Webber & Stevens.

          Dominic M. Campanella argued the cause for respondent. On the brief were Mark R. Weaver and Brophy Schmor LLP.

          Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Lagesen, Judge, and Garrett, Judge.

         Case Summary: Plaintiff was seriously injured when he was hit by a car while crossing a street at a crosswalk. Plaintiff alleges that the city was negligent by placing a crosswalk at that location and by omitting certain safety features from the crosswalk's design that, in plaintiff's view, would have averted his accident. On summary judgment, the trial court concluded that the discretionary immunity provision of the Oregon Tort Claims Act, ORS 30.265(6)(c), barred plaintiff's negligence claims against the city and entered judgment for the city on those claims.

         Held: There is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the city's decisions regarding the crosswalk's location are protected by discretionary immunity. As a result, the trial court erred in concluding that the city was entitled to summary judgment with respect to the specifications of negligence pertaining to crosswalk location. The trial court did not err in granting summary judgment to the city with respect to the specifications of negligence pertaining to the crosswalk's design

          LAGESEN, J.

         Plaintiff was seriously injured when he was hit by a car while crossing South Riverside Avenue at its intersection with Ninth Street in Medford. There are no traffic signals controlling that intersection, but the City of Medford has installed a crosswalk across South Riverside Avenue on the south side of the intersection. Plaintiff was in that crosswalk when he was hit, and he alleges that the city was negligent by placing a crosswalk at that location and by omitting certain safety features from the crosswalk's design that, in plaintiffs view, would have averted his accident. On summary judgment, the trial court concluded that the discretionary immunity provision of the Oregon Tort Claims Act, ORS 30.265(6)(c), [1] bars plaintiff's negligence claims against the city and entered judgment for the city on those claims.[2]We conclude that the trial court's grant of summary judgment was correct with respect to plaintiff's challenge to the city's design decisions but that there are genuine issues of material fact as to the plaintiff's challenge to the city's decision to locate the crosswalk where it did. We therefore affirm in part and reverse in part.

         I. ISSUE PRESENTED AND STANDARD OF REVIEW

         We start by identifying what is-and is not-at issue in this appeal, as well as the legal standards that govern our review of the trial court's resolution of the issues presented.

         First, what is at issue: In the complaint, plaintiff alleges that the city was negligent in five different ways. Two of the specifications of negligence, specifications 13(a) and 13(b), challenge the city's decision to place the crosswalk where it did. They allege that the city was negligent by:

"(a) Creating a marked, multi-lane crosswalk at the South Riverside Avenue area where [plaintiff's accident] occurred; [and]
"(b) Failing to remove the marked crosswalk after having been advised to do so by ...

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