John L. WOOD, an individual, Plaintiff-Appellant,
WASCO COUNTY, political subdivision of the State of Oregon; Scott Hege; Steve Kramer; and Rod Runyon, each in their individual and official capacities as members of the Board of County Commissioners of Wasco County, Oregon, Defendants-Respondents.
and Submitted January 30, 2017.
County Circuit Court 1500040CC; Karen Ostrye, Judge.
J. Myers argued the cause for appellant. Also on the briefs
was Peachey & Myers, P.C.
Kristen A. Campbell argued the cause for respondents. Also on
the brief was Timmons Law PC.
DeVore, Presiding Judge, and Garrett, Judge, and Powers,
Summary: In this case brought under Oregon's Public
Meetings Law, ORS 192.610 to 192.695, plaintiff challenges
the grant of summary judgment to defendants, arguing that the
trial court erred in concluding that the case was moot and
that it was not likely to evade review in the future.
Held: Once the board rescinded the challenged
decision, the only nonspeculative relief requested by
plaintiff that was based on present facts had been rendered
moot. However, the trial court erred in entering judgment in
defendants' favor when the case was moot.
and remanded with instructions to enter a judgment of
Or.App. 156] POWERS, J.
case brought under Oregon's Public Meetings Law, ORS
192.610 to 192.695, plaintiff challenges the grant of summary
judgment to Wasco County, Scott Hege, Steve Kramer, and Rod
Runyon, individually and in their capacities as members of
the Board of County Commissioners of Wasco County
(collectively "defendants"), arguing that the trial
court erred in concluding that the case was moot and that it
was not likely to evade review in the future. We conclude
that, after Wasco County rescinded the challenged decision,
the case was moot and that there is nothing about this case
that suggests a similar decision by the county would evade
review or terminate before it could be fully adjudicated.
Finally, although we agree with the trial court's
conclusion that the case was moot, we conclude that the trial
court erred by entering a judgment in favor of defendants
after concluding that the case was moot rather than entering
a judgment of dismissal. Accordingly, we vacate and remand
with instructions to enter a judgment of dismissal.
relevant facts are few and undisputed. In 2013, Wasco County
entered into an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with
Sherman County and Gilliam County to form the North Central
Public Health District (NCPHD). In December 2014, the Board
of County Commissioners of Wasco County held its regularly
scheduled meeting, which included an item on the agenda
related to a quarterly report about the county's
participation in NCPHD. At that meeting, the board discussed
the report, and the presenter representing NCPHD left the
meeting. After the board discussed some unrelated items, one
of the commissioners made a motion to give notice of Wasco
County's intent to withdraw from NCPHD and to not sign a
renewal IGA for NCPHD. The commissioners voted unanimously in
favor of that motion.
February 2015, plaintiff initiated this action, alleging that
defendants violated Oregon's Public Meetings Law by
voting to withdraw from NCPHD. Specifically, plaintiff
alleged that, in violation of the public meetings law, the
agenda for the December 2014 meeting did not [294 Or.App.
157] include an item regarding the withdrawal from NCPHD and
that defendants communicated privately outside of a public
meeting on the decision to withdraw from NCPHD.
Plaintiff's prayer for relief asked the court (1) to
declare void the county's decision to give notice of its
intent to withdraw; (2) for attorney fees and costs, and (3)
"[f]or such other further relief as the court deems
equitable and just to assure conformance of Defendants with
Oregon's public meeting laws."
days after plaintiff filed his complaint, the board held a
meeting that included on its agenda the issue of the
county's participation in NCPHD. At that meeting, the
commissioners voted unanimously to rescind the December 2014
decision to give notice of Wasco County's intent to
withdraw from NCPHD.
on the rescission, defendants moved for summary judgment,
arguing that the case was moot and otherwise nonjusticiable
relying on Krisor v. Henry, 256 Or.App. 56, 300 P.3d
199, rev den, 353 Or. 787 (2013). Plaintiff opposed
defendants' motion contending that under Harris v.
Nordquist, 96 Or.App. 19, 771 P.2d 637 (1989), there
does not need to be a completed decision by a public body for
an action brought under the public meetings law to be
justiciable. Plaintiff further remonstrated that
Krisor was distinguishable because, unlike the
plaintiff in Krisor, who mainly sought to have the
court void a hiring decision, plaintiff in this case
requested additional relief. Plaintiff also argued that the
case was justiciable because defendants' conduct was
capable of repetition and likely to evade review in the
future, which satisfied the standard in ORS
trial court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants,
explaining: "I'm looking at a complaint here [294
Or.App. 158] that is moot. The decision has been withdrawn.
And with regards to ORS 14.175, I do not think that the
challenge[d] polic[ies] or practice[s] are likely to evade
judicial review." The court then entered an order
granting defendants' motion, concluding that: (1) the
challenged policy was not likely to evade judicial review;
(2) plaintiff's claim was ...