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.

McCormick v. State

Court of Appeals of Oregon

August 1, 2018

Benjamin McCORMICK, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF OREGON, by and through the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, Defendant-Respondent.

          Argued and submitted October 11, 2016

          Jefferson County Circuit Court 14CV00131 Gary Lee Williams, Judge.

          Shenoa Payne argued the cause for appellant. Also on the opening brief was Haglund Kelley LLP. Also on the reply brief was Shenoa Payne Attorney at Law PC.

          Peenesh Shah, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. Also on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Paul L. Smith, Deputy Solicitor General.

          Kathryn H. Clarke fled the brief amicus curiae for Oregon Trial Lawyers Association.

          Before DeHoog, Presiding Judge, and Lagesen, Judge, and Aoyagi, Judge. [*]

         [293 Or.App. 198] Case Summary:

         Plaintiff appeals a general judgment dismissing his complaint alleging that the state's negligence causally contributed to severe injuries that he suffered when he dove into Lake Billy Chinook and hit his head on a submerged boulder. He assigns error to the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the state on the ground that recreational immunity, ORS 105.682, barred plaintiff's claim. Plaintiff contends that the statute does not apply to injuries resulting from the recreational use of the lake because the state holds the lake in trust for the public and cannot actually prohibit the public from using the lake for recreational purposes. Held: The trial court erred; its ruling was erroneous under Ortega v. Martin, 293 Or.App. 180, P.3d (2018). The text, context, and legislative history of ORS 105.682 show that, to "permit" recreational use within the meaning of the statute, "an owner must have the authority to make a volitional decision whether or not to allow recreational use on the land in question." Ortega, 293 Or.App. at 193. Where the landowner does not have the authority to choose whether to allow or disallow recreational use on the land, the owner does not directly or indirectly "permit" any recreational use for purposes of the statute, and, therefore, recreational immunity does not apply.

         Reversed and remanded.

          [293 Or.App. 199] LAGESEN, J.

         Plaintiff was severely injured when, while visiting Cove Palisades State Park, he dove into Lake Billy Chinook and hit his head on a submerged boulder. He sued the state, alleging that the state's negligence causally contributed to his injuries in a number of ways. The state moved for summary judgment, contending that ORS 105.682, the recreational immunity statute, barred plaintiffs claims against it because plaintiff was engaged in a recreational activity at the time of his injuries. Plaintiff opposed the motion, arguing, among other things, that the statute did not apply to Lake Billy Chinook because the state holds Lake Billy Chinook in trust for the public and, as a result, lacks the authority to prohibit the public from using Lake Billy Chinook for recreational purposes. The trial court agreed with the state that it was entitled to recreational immunity under ORS 105.682, granted the motion for summary judgment, and entered a general judgment dismissing the complaint. We reverse, concluding that the trial court's ruling was erroneous in view of our decision today in Ortega v. Martin, 293 Or.App. 180, ___ P.3d ___ (2018)-a decision which, as should be obvious, was not available to the trial court.

         Under ORS 105.682, a landowner is entitled to recreational immunity from liability for harm resulting from the recreational use of the owner's land when, among other criteria, the owner "directly or indirectly permits any person to use the land for recreational purposes." ORS 105.682(1) (emphasis added). In this case, the question is whether the state "permits" the recreational use of Lake Billy Chinook within the meaning of the statute. Plaintiff argues that, to "permit" recreational use within the meaning of the statute, the state must have the authority to decide whether or not to allow recreational use; that is, it must have the authority to prohibit recreational use. The state, although generally not disputing that it lacks the authority to completely bar the public from the recreational use of Lake Billy Chinook, [1] [293 Or.App. 200] argues that the word "permits" in ORS 105.682 has a broader meaning that is "something less than granting access that would otherwise be legally unavailable." In the state's view, a landowner "permits" recreational use within the meaning of ORS 105.682 "so long as it facilitates public recreation, makes public recreation possible when it otherwise would not be, or declines to restrict recreation as fully as it permissibly could."

         Although both readings of the statute are plausible, under our decision in Ortega, plaintiff's interpretation is correct. There, after reviewing the text, context, and legislative history of ORS 105.682 in light of arguments virtually identical to those raised in this appeal, we concluded that, to "permit" recreational use within the meaning of the statute, "an owner must have the authority to make a volitional decision whether or not to allow recreational use on the land in question." Ortega, 293 Or.App. at 193. We reached that conclusion in large part because the text, context, and legislative history of ORS 105.682 demonstrate a legislative "quid pro quo" designed to encourage landowners, who might not otherwise do so, to open their land to the public for recreational use in exchange for the promise of immunity. Id. at 192-94. Thus, where the owner of land does not have the authority to choose whether to allow or disallow recreational use on the land, the owner does not "directly or indirectly permit" any recreational use that occurs on the land for purposes of the statute. Under such circumstances, recreational immunity does not apply.

         Here, the state has not effectively demonstrated[2] that it has the authority to decide whether or not to allow the [293 Or.App. 201] public's recreational use of Lake Billy Chinook. As a consequence, under our decision in Ortega, it has not established as a matter of law that it "permit[ted]" the recreational use of Lake Billy Chinook within the meaning of ORS 105.682. As a result, the state is not entitled to ...


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.