1 January 30, :03 PM IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF OREGON, KEVIN RAINS and MITZI RAINS, Plaintiffs-Respondents-Petitioners on Review, v. STAYTON BUILDERS MART, INC., JOHN DOE LUMBER SUPPLIER, JOHN DOE LUMBER MILL and FIVE STAR CONTRUCTIONS, INC., Defendants. STAYTON BUILDERS MART, INC., Third- Party Plaintiff - Respondent, v. RSG FOREST PRODUCTS, INC., SANDERS WOOD PRODUCTS, INC., dba RSG FOREST PRODUCTS-MOLALLA DIVISION; GEORGIA PACIFIC CORP.; GEORGIA PACIFIC WEST, INC.; STARFIRE LUMBER COMPANY; WITHERS LUMBER COMPANY; WESTERN INTERNATIONAL FOREST PRODUCTS, LLC; and BLUELINX CORPORATION, Third-Party Defendants, and WEYERHAEUSER COMPANY, Third-Party Defendant-Appellant- Respondent on Review. WEYERHAEUSER COMPANY, Fourth-Party Plaintiff, v. RODRIGUEZ & RAINS CONSTRUCTION, an Oregon corporation, Fourth-Party Defendant.
2 WITHERS LUMBER COMPANY, Fourth-Party Plaintiff, v. SELLWOOD LUMBER CO., INC.; and WEYERHAEUSER COMPANY, Fourth-Party Defendants. WESTERN INTERNATIONAL FOREST PRODUCTS, INC., Fourth-Party Plaintiff, v. BENITO RODRIGUEZ, KEVIN RAINS, RODRIGUEZ & RAINS CONSTRUCTION, Fourth-Party Defendants. SELLWOOD LUMBER CO., INC.; an Oregon corporation, Fifth-Party Plaintiff, v. SWANSON BROS. LUMBER CO, INC, and Oregon corporation, Fifth-Party Defendant. Marion County Circuit Court No. 06C21040 A S Brief of Amicus Curiae Oregon Trial Lawyers Association in support of Plaintiffs Petition for Review Of the decision of the Court of Appeals dated August 13, 2014 Authored by Ortega, P.J.; Sercombe, J., and Hadlock, J., concurring, in an appeal from the Marion County Circuit Court Limited Judgment and Money Awards entered May 28, 2010 The Honorable Dennis Graves, Circuit Court Judge
3 Kathryn H. Clarke OSB PO Box Portland, Oregon (503) Attorney for Amicus Curiae Oregon Trial Lawyers Association Maureen Leonard OSB Attorney at Law P.O. Box Portland, Oregon Telephone: Brian R. Whitehead OSB J. Randolph Pickett OSB Law Offices of Brian Whitehead, P.C. Pickett Dummigan LLP th Street SE 621 SW Morrison, Suite 900 Salem, Oregon Portland, Oregon Telephone: Telephone: Attorneys for Plaintiffs-Petitioners on review Kevin Rains and Mitzi Rains Michael T. Garone OSB W. Michael Gillette OSB Sara Kobak OSB Jordan R. Silk OSB Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, P.C SW Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900 Portland, Oregon Telephone: Attorneys for Defendant-Respondent on review Weyerhaeuser Company Thomas W. Brown OSB Cosgrave Vergeer & Kester LLP 500 Pioneer Tower 888 SW Fifth Portland, Oregon Telephone: Attorneys for Defendant Stayton Builders Mart, Inc.
4 TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction... 1 Reasons for Granting Review The Court of Appeals holding cannot be reconciled with Lakin The Court of Appeals opinion is equally at odds with Miramontes The Court of Appeals has misapplied Klutschkowski This court should correct or overrule Hughes v. Peacehealth Conclusion... 7 TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Cases Hughes v. Peacehealth, 344 Or 142, 178P3d 225 (2008)... 5,6 Klutschkowski v. Peacehealth, 354 Or 150, 311 P3d 461(2013)... 2,4,5 Lakin v. Senco Products, Inc., 329 Or 62, 987 P2d 463 (1999)... 1,2,7 M.K.F. v. Miramontes, 352 Or 401, 287 P3d 1045 (2012)... 1,3,6 Rains v. Stayton Builders Mart, Inc., 264 Or App 636, 336 P3d 483 (2014)... passim Smothers v. Gresham Transfer, Inc., 332 Or 83, 23 P3d 333 (2001)... 5,6 Stout v. Madden, 208 Or 294, 300 P2d 461 (1956)... 5 Constitutional Provisions Or Const Art I passim Statutes ORS ,2,6 i
5 1 Introduction The Court of Appeals has once again concluded that the cap on noneconomic damages (ORS ) can be applied without offending a plaintiff s jury trial rights because the plaintiff s claim for strict product liability differs in significant ways from the common law claims available in Rains v. Stayton Builders Mart, Inc., 264 Or App 636, 665, 336 P3d 483 (2014). This decision cannot be reconciled with this court s opinion in Lakin v. Senco Products, Inc., 329 Or 62, 987 P2d 463 (1999), holding that the same statute, applied to limit a jury s verdict on the same claim, violated the Article I 17 of the Oregon Constitution. 1 The Oregon Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) urges this Court to accept review to reiterate once more that the right to jury trial does not depend on finding a precise historical analog in mid-19 th century common law (M.K.F. v. Miramontes, 352 Or 401, 426, 287 P3d 1045 (2012)), and that Article I 17 prohibits legislative interference with a jury s verdict in any civil case of like nature to those in which jury trial was customary in Lakin, 329 Or at 78, 82. If review is granted, OTLA intends to submit a brief on the merits. 1 In all civil cases the right of Trial by Jury shall remain inviolate.
6 The questions presented, the proposed rules, and the difficulties with the Court of Appeals approach are well-stated in Plaintiffs Petition. OTLA offers the following brief comments as to why it is essential for this Court to grant that Petition. Reasons for Granting Review 1. The Court of Appeals holding cannot be reconciled with Lakin. In Lakin, this court concluded that ORS (then ORS ) violated the right to jury trial on plaintiffs claims against a manufacturer for strict product liability and negligence: In summary, Article I, section 17, guarantees a jury trial in civil actions for which the common law provided a jury trial when the Oregon Constitution was adopted in 1857 and in cases of like nature. In any such case, the trial of all issues of fact must be by jury. The determination of damages in a personal injury case is a question of fact. The damages available in a personal injury action include compensation for noneconomic damages resulting from the injury. The legislature may not interfere with the full effect of a jury's assessment of noneconomic damages, at least as to civil cases in which the right to jury trial was customary in 1857, or in cases of like nature. It follows, therefore, that, in this context, ORS (1) violates Article I, section Or at 82 (emphasis added.) The Court of Appeals in Rains quotes much of this language (indirectly, by quoting another case 2 ), but never confronts the fact that this context, in Or App at 660, quoting Klutschkowski v. Peacehealth, 354 Or 150, 177, 311 P3d 461(2013), which in turn was quoting Lakin.
7 3 which Lakin ruled, was exactly the same kind of product liability claim made in Rains. The Court of Appeals opinion is simply inconsistent with Lakin. 2. The Court of Appeals opinion is equally at odds with Miramontes. The Court of Appeals never discusses or mentions this court s opinion in M.K.F. v. Miramontes, supra. In that case, the claim for damages associated with a stalking protective order was a statutory creation, with no precise historical analogue. 352 Or at 426. However, it was a claim for damages, and the court concluded that whether a claim is civil or at law turns on the nature of the relief sought: if the relief sought is monetary compensation for injuries suffered, then the claim is properly categorized as civil and the right to jury trial attaches. 352 Or at 424. This court held: The Court of Appeals erred in conditioning the right to jury trial on such a precise match between the elements of a current claim and those of a common-law predecessor. 352 Or at 426. That error was repeated in this case. 3. The Court of Appeals has misapplied Klutschkowski. The Court of Appeals misinterprets and misapplies this court s analysis in Klutschkowski v. Peacehealth, 354 Or 150, 311P3d 461 (2013). In that case, this court concluded that the Court of Appeals had erred when it
8 4 said that claims for prenatal injury were unknown at common law in 1857 and therefore the plaintiff s damages could be capped without offending his jury trial rights. This court reversed. In that case, both the defendant and the Court of Appeals had merged the remedy clause analysis, and its Smothers-mandated examination of the remedies available in 1857, with the Article I 17 question of whether the case is a civil case that was of like nature (even though statutory in origin) to common law cases. To some extent, this court did likewise in the first part of its opinion. The court began by pointing out that actions for medical negligence were well-established when the Oregon Constitution was adopted, and therefore at first blush the constitutional protections applied. 354 Or at 171. The court then went on at some length to establish that the exception on which defendant relied, and which the Court of Appeals had found persuasive, did not provide a valid basis for not applying the general rule. 354 Or at 176. The court therefore adhered to Lakin s holding despite the fact that no case could be found, either by the court or by the parties, that had discussed the viability of a child s claim for medical negligence in the course of delivery. OTLA points out that the manufacturing and transportation of goods that accompanied the Industrial Revolution inevitably pushed the common law to accommodate a changed world, where products were produced at a
9 distance and transported in commerce, where privity requirements were increasingly meaningless and where contractual principles of implied 5 warranty were increasingly employed in a tort context. See, e.g., the historical discussion in Stout v. Madden, 208 Or 294, , 300 P2d 461 (1956), discussed in Plaintiffs Petition at 9. Changes in the law that applies to civil cases cannot prevent them from being of like nature, any more than twentieth-century birth of modern obstetrics prevents obstetrical negligence from being of like nature to medical negligence claims that existed in This court should correct or overrule Hughes v. Peacehealth. The Court of Appeals found Hughes v. Peacehealth, 344 Or 142, 178 P3d 225 (2008) most instructive. 265 Or App at 660. In Hughes the court concluded that an action for wrongful death was unknown at common law, was solely a creature of statute, and had come into existence with a dollar limit on recovery, and therefore the damages could be capped without offense to Article I 17. In his concurrence in Klutschkowski, supra, Justice Landau expressed reservations about Hughes, especially with respect to its incorporation of a Smothers-type analysis into the interpretation and
10 6 application of the right to a jury trial. 354 Or at 194 (Landau, J., concurring). 3 He went on to state: By its terms, [Article I 17] applies to all civil cases, not just the limited number of civil cases that would have triggered a right to a jury trial in And I am aware of no evidence in the historical record that the framers of the provision intended or contemplated that the constitutional guarantee would be so limited. Id. at As Justice Landau pointed out, there is some tension between the Hughes approach and the court s decision in Miramontes, supra. Id. at 195. Given the fact that the Court of Appeals finds Hughes most instructive, OTLA suggests that it is time to resolve that tension. The Smothers-like inquiry into historical antecedents may, at this point, be a major feature of remedy clause jurisprudence, but it should not be a factor in a proper analysis of the jury trial provision. 4 This court should either restrict Hughes to its context a claim unknown at common law, with no common law origins, solely statutory in origin, and created with a limited recovery 5 or overrule it. Its inconsistency with other cases, as summarized 3 Referring to Smothers v. Gresham Transfer, Inc., 332 Or 83, 23 P3d 333 (2001). 4 In Lakin, supra, the court expressly rejected an argument that merged the analysis of the remedy clause and the jury trial provision. 329 Or at OTLA does not believe this to be an accurate characterization of a wrongful death claim, but it is the one accepted by the court in Hughes.
11 above, should not continue to mislead lower courts into decisions that unjustifiably limit the protections afforded citizens by the Constitution. Conclusion OTLA urges the Court to grant review in this case and to make clear that Lakin v. Senco Products, Inc., is still good law. Respectfully submitted, /s/ Kathryn H. Clarke Kathryn H. Clarke OSB Attorney for Amicus Curiae Oregon Trial Lawyers Association 7
12 CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE Brief length: I certify that this brief complies with the word-count limitation in ORAP 5.05(2)(b) and 9.05(3), and the word count of this brief is 1472 words. Type size: I certify that the size of the type in this brief is not smaller than 14 point for both text and footnotes as required by ORAP 5.05(4)(f). CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE AND FILING I certify that on this date I electronically filed the foregoing Brief of Amicus Curiae Oregon Trial Lawyers Association with the State Court Administrator and by so doing served a copy electronically on Maureen Leonard Of Attorneys for Plaintiffs-Petitioners Michael T. Garone Of Attorneys for Defendant-Respondent Weyerhaeuser Company Thomas W. Brown Of Attorneys for Defendant Stayton Builders Mart Inc. DATED this 30 th day of January, /s/ Kathryn H. Clarke Kathryn H. Clarke OSB Attorney for Amicus Curiae Oregon Trial Lawyers Association
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