United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
WILLIAM TARR, as Personal Representative of the ESTATE OF CONNOR WILLIAM TARR, Plaintiff,
USF REDDAWAY, INC., Defendant.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
LE PAUL PAPAK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
William Tarr brings this wrongful death and personal injury
action as personal representative of the estate of his son,
Connor William Tarr (Tarr). The defendant is USF Reddaway,
Inc., which is in the business of transporting goods. 1st Am.
Compl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 44.
was killed when a truck owned by Defendant and driven by
Defendant's employee rear-ended the SUV in which Tarr was
a passenger. There is diversity jurisdiction because the
accident occurred in California, Tarr was domiciled in
Washington, and Defendant is domiciled in Oregon.
brings a claim for negligence, alleging that Defendant failed
to adequately train and supervise its truck driver, Gerald
Truelove; negligently hired Truelove; failed to adequately
incorporate a safety system allowing real-time monitoring of
the truck's speed; and is liable as Truelove's
employer for Truelove's alleged negligence (known as
respondeat superior liability). Plaintiff also brings a claim
of negligence per se against Defendant, alleging that
Truelove was driving at an unsafe speed and with impaired
alertness through fatigue or illness.
now moves for partial summary judgment, contending that (1)
Oregon's statutory cap limiting non-economic damages to
$500, 000 applies here; (2) Plaintiff has presented
insufficient evidence to support punitive damages; and (3)
Plaintiff may not recover economic damages in federal court
based on lost future earnings from a cannabis business
because cannabis is illegal under federal law. In its reply
brief, Defendant also moves to strike six exhibits submitted
by Plaintiff with his response brief.
following reasons, I recommend denying Defendant's motion
for partial summary judgment on the application of
Oregon's statutory cap on non-economic damages; granting
the motion on punitive damages; and denying the motion as to
damages for loss of income from the cannabis business. I deny
Defendant's motion to strike as moot.
December 19, 2014, at 2:15 in the morning, Tarr was a
passenger in an SUV driven by Daniel Jones, heading north on
1-5 in an unincorporated area of Merced County, California.
See Segal Decl., Ex. B (Cal. Highway Patrol Traffic
Collision Report (CHP Report)), ECF No. 54-2. According to
the CHP Report, Jones slowed to 15 m.p, h. as he entered a
construction area. Immediately behind Jones's SUV,
Truelove was driving 60 m.p.h. in a tractor-trailer owned by
Defendant. The CHP Report stated that Truelove was driving at
"an unsafe speed for conditions (Heavy traffic, slower
traffic, construction zone)." Id., Ex. B, at
18. Truelove "failed to stop [the truck] as it came upon
slowed traffic ahead of the SUV, and the front of the truck
collided with the rear of the SUV. Id. The collision
forced the SUV into the rear of a tractor-trailer in front of
it, "causing [the SUV] to be fully compressed
between" Defendant's truck and the second trailer of
the truck ahead of the SUV. Tan- was pronounced
dead at the scene. Truelove and Jones survived the collision.
was domiciled in Washington when he was killed. 1st Am.
Compl. ¶ 2. Truelove is a citizen of California who was
employed by Defendant as a truck driver in California for
about twenty years. See PL's Resp. 15 n.17.
Truelove had not traveled to Oregon or made a delivery there
since 1999. PL's Resp. 3 (citing Truelove's Mot.
Dismiss 2, ECF No. 36), ECF No. 57. Defendant's principal
place of business is in Oregon. 1st Am. Compl. ¶¶
3, 6. According to Plaintiff, Defendant
"maintains a substantial corporate presence in
California." PL's Resp. 3 (footnote omitted).
STANDARDS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
court must grant summary judgment if there are no genuine
issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). If the
moving party shows that there are no genuine issues of
material fact, the nonmoving party must go beyond the
pleadings and designate facts showing an issue for trial.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
Does Oregon's $500, 000 Cap on Non-Economic Damages
contends that Oregon law applies to Plaintiffs claims, so
Plaintiffs prayer for non-economic damages is limited to
$500, 000 by Or. Rev. Stat. § 31.710(1). Plaintiff
responds that under the Oregon choice of law statute, Or.
Rev. Stat. § 15.440(3), California law applies, and
California does not cap non-economic damages.
courts sitting in diversity look to the law of the forum
state .. . when making choice of law determinations."
Nguyen v. Barnes & Noble Inc., 763 F.3d 1171,
1175 (9th Cir. 2014). I apply Oregon choice-of-law rules,
which Oregon codified effective in 2010. See Or.
Rev. Stat. §§ 15.300 to 15.460 (originally codified
as Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 31.850 to 31.890)).
Does California Law Apply Under Or. Rev. ...