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Woodroffe v. State

Court of Appeals of Oregon

May 23, 2018

ROBERT WOODROFFE, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF OREGON, Defendant-Respondent, and Jessica SPOONER et al., Defendants.

          Submitted April 7, 2017

          Malheur County Circuit Court S1406779; Lung S. Hung, Judge.

          Robert A. Woodroffe fled the briefs pro se.

          Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General, and Robert M. Wilsey, Assistant Attorney General, fled the brief for respondent.

          Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Chief Judge, and Lagesen, Judge.

         Case Summary:

         Plaintiff appeals the trial court's judgment dismissing his claims against defendant, the state. Plaintiff, who is incarcerated, obtained a small claims judgment against the state requiring it to provide plaintiff with a new TV and its included accessories. The parties then disputed whether the TV that the state provided was actually new. The trial court granted summary judgment to the state on the ground that plaintiff's claim was barred as a matter of law because plaintiff signed a satisfaction when he received the TV, even though the state had not moved for summary judgment on that basis. On appeal, plaintiff contends that he submitted evidence that would permit a reasonable juror to find that he received an old TV and not a new one; therefore, the state has not complied with its obligation to provide him with a new TV and that satisfaction does not bar his claim. Held: The trial court erred by granting summary judgment on a ground that was not raised in the state's motion. Plaintiff's evidence was sufficient to establish a factual dispute as to whether the TV provided to him was in fact new, as required by the small claims judgment.

          [292 Or. 22]

          [292 Or. 23] LAGESEN, J.

         This case was about a number of things when it began but, at this point, it is about a television (TV). Plaintiff, who is incarcerated, obtained a small claims judgment against the state. That judgment-the parties appear to agree-required it to provide him with a new TV "with cables and accessories including box." Although the state gave plaintiff a TV with a box and accessories, the parties dispute whether that TV was new. Plaintiff contends that the TV provided to him was not new but, instead, was banged up and without all of its proper accessories. The state contends that the TV that it supplied to plaintiff was brand new from the manufacturer. Rather than resolving that dispute, the trial court granted summary judgment to the state on the ground that plaintiff's claim was barred as a matter of law because plaintiff signed a satisfaction when he received the TV, even though the state had not moved for summary judgment on that basis. Because it was error for the trial court to grant summary judgment on a ground not raised in the state's motion, Eklof v. Steward, 360 Or. 717, 736, 385 P.3d 1074 (2016), and because plaintiffs evidence is sufficient to establish a factual dispute as to whether the TV provided to him was new, as required by the small claims judgment, we reverse the judgment insofar as it dismissed plaintiff's claim about the TV[1]

         We review the trial court's grant of summary judgment for legal error, "to determine whether there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Evans v. City of Warrenton, 283 Or.App. 256, 258, 388 P.3d 1167 (2016); ORCP 47. Under ORCP 47, "the party opposing summary judgment has the burden of producing evidence on any issue 'raised in the motion' as to which [that party] would have the burden of persuasion at trial." Two Two v. Fujitec America, Inc., 355 [292 Or. 24] Or 319, 324, 325 P.3d 707 (2014) (emphasis added). If, on an issue as to which the nonmoving party would have the burden of persuasion at trial, the evidence contained in the summary judgment record, when viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, would permit an objectively reasonable juror to find in the nonmoving party's favor on the issue in question, then summary judgment is not permissible. ORCP 47. Further, it is improper for a trial court to grant summary judgment on an issue that is not raised in the moving party's motion. Eklof, 360 Or at 736; Two Two, 355 Or at 325-26.

         We consider this appeal in view of those standards. At its core, this is an action to enforce the prior small claims judgment obligating the state to supply plaintiff with a new TV. See State ex rel English v. Multnomah County, 348 Or. 417, 432, 238 P.3d 980 (2010) (party to a judgment may bring an action to enforce the judgment). As noted, the parties appear to agree that the judgment required the state to provide plaintiff with a new 13-inch TV, along "with cables and accessories including box." Several months after the judgment was entered, the state supplied plaintiff with a TV that was "new to [him], " and plaintiff signed an "acknowledgment" that he had received that TV in satisfaction of the small claims judgment. However, according to plaintiff, when he removed the TV from its packaging upon returning to his cell, he discovered that the TV was not new and did not have all of its accessories. Thus, plaintiff alleges, the state has not complied with its obligation to provide him with a new 13-inch TV.

         The state moved for summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff would not be able to demonstrate that it had failed to comply with the terms of the small claims judgment. In full, the state's motion asserted:

"This action stems from a prior small claim where [plaintiff] obtained both monetary and non-monetary relief from the State of Oregon. [Plaintiff] now seeks enforcement of unspecified provisions of that contract, and he raises various tort claims against multiple state actors. Defendants are entitled to summary judgment on [plaintiffs] claims. The only possible cause of action in this proceeding is an action against the State of Oregon for failure to comply with [292 Or. 25] the prior small claim judgment. And because the State of Oregon has complied with terms of that judgment, [plaintiff] cannot demonstrate an issue of fact as to whether he is entitled to additional relief. Accordingly, this Court should grant summary judgment in favor of defendants."

         Addressing plaintiff's claim regarding the TV, the state argued in its supporting memorandum that plaintiff would be unable to ...


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