Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Miller v. Ford Motor Co.

Supreme Court of Oregon, En Banc

June 7, 2018

Aline L. MILLER, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, a Delaware corporation, Defendant.

          Argued and under advisement January 16, 2018.

          On certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit No. 14-36001; S.C. S065010; certified order dated May 26, 2017, certification accepted August 3, 2017.

          Elizabeth C. Savage, Ivan M. Karmel, P.C., Portland, argued the cause and fled the brief on behalf of plaintiff. Also on the brief were Ivan M. Karmel, Portland, and Robert J. Slavik, Seattle, Washington.

          Janet M. Schroer, Hart Wagner LLP, Portland, argued the cause and fled the brief on behalf of defendant. Also on the brief was Ruth C. Rocker.

          James S. Coon, Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost, Portland, fled the brief on behalf amicus curiae Oregon Trial Lawyers Association.

          Naomi Sheffeld, Deputy City Attorney, City of Portland, fled the brief on behalf of amicus curiae the City of Portland.

          Jay W. Beattie, Lindsay Hart, LLP, Portland, fled the brief on behalf of amici curiae National Association of Manufacturers and Oregon Business & Industry. Also on the brief were Philip S. Goldberg, Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P., Washington DC, and Linda E. Kelly and Leland P. Frost, Manufacturers' Center for Legal Action, Washington DC.

         [363 Or. 106] Sara Kobak, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt P.C., Portland, fled the brief on behalf of amicus curiae Oregonians for Food and Shelter. Also on the brief was W. Michael Gillette.

         Case Summary: Plaintiff brought a products liability action against Ford Motor Co. Ford fled for dismissal, invoking Oregon's statute of repose for product liability actions, which provides that an action "must be commenced before the later of * * * [t]en years after the date on which the product was first purchased * * * or * * * [t]he expiration of any statute of repose for an equivalent civil action in the state in which the product was manufactured." ORS 30.905(2). The district court denied Ford's motion, concluding that because Missouri (the state of manufacture) had no applicable statute of repose, no such limitation applied to bar plaintiff's claims. Ford appealed, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit certified the following question to this Court: If the state of manufacture has no statute of repose for actions equivalent to an Oregon product liability action, is a product liability action in Oregon subject to any statute of repose? Held: Under ORS 30.905(2), when an Oregon product liability action involves a product that was manufactured in a state that has no statute of repose for an equivalent civil action, then the action in Oregon also is not subject to a statute of repose.

         [363 Or. 107] NELSON, J.

         This case is before us on a certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. At issue is the correct interpretation of ORS 30.905(2), which places limits on the time-frame for initiating a product liability civil action for personal injury or property damage. Oregon's statute of repose for product liability actions provides that an action "must be commenced before the later of * * * [t]en years after the date on which the product was first purchased * * * or * * * [t]he expiration of any statute of repose for an equivalent civil action in the state in which the product was manufactured." ORS 30.905(2). The certified question, rephrased for the sake of clarity, [1] is as follows: If the state of manufacture has no statute of repose for actions equivalent to an Oregon product liability action, is a product liability action in Oregon subject to any statute of repose? Miller v. Ford Motor Co., 857 F.3d 1016, 1017 (9th Cir 2017). For the reasons that follow, we answer in the negative: Under ORS 30.905(2), when an Oregon product liability action involves a product that was manufactured in a state that has no statute of repose for an equivalent civil action, then the action in Oregon also is not subject to a statute of repose.

         We take the facts from the Ninth Circuit's certification order. Oregon resident Miller owned a Ford Escape, which was manufactured in June 2001 in the State of Missouri. The Escape was first sold to a consumer in September 2001. In May 2012, the Escape caught fire while parked in Miller's garage, allegedly due to a faulty sensor in the engine compartment. The fire spread from Miller's garage to her home, causing significant property damage. Miller also fractured her heel as she fed the fire.

         In April 2014, Miller fled a product liability action in Oregon state court, alleging various design and manufacturing defects, as well as failures to warn. Invoking diversity jurisdiction, Ford removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon and later moved [363 Or. 108] for summary judgment, arguing that the Oregon statute of repose for product liability actions barred Miller's claims because the Escape was first sold to a consumer more than 10 years before she fled her action. The district court denied the motion, concluding that Oregon's 10-year statute of repose did not apply because ORS 30.905(2)(b) required the court to apply the repose period of the state of manufacture. Because Missouri had no statute of repose for product liability actions, the district court concluded that no such limitation applied to bar Miller's claims. Ford appealed the district court's judgment, challenging the court's interpretation of ORS 30.905(2). The Ninth Circuit, after briefing and argument, certified the question at issue in this case.

         Our task in interpreting a statute is to "pursue the intention of the legislature." ORS 174.020(1)(a). To that end, we review the text of the statute, in context, along with any relevant legislative history and settled rules of construction. State v. Gaines, 346 Or. 160, 171-72, 206 P.3d 1042 (2009) (stating analysis). The statute at issue here, ORS 30.905, provides:

"(1) Subject to the limitation imposed by subsection (2) of this section, a product liability civil action for personal injury or property damage must be commenced not later than two years after the plaintiff discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, the personal injury or property damage and the causal relationship between the injury or damage and the product, or the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.