Oregon Case Law Update: Amendments Retroactive if Legislature Indicates They Are

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Oregon Case Law Update: Amendments Retroactive if Legislature Indicates They Are

From the desk of Ryan McLellan: Typically, legislative amendments to statutes do not apply retroactively. This means that causes of action that arose prior to the amendments being adopted are typically analyzed under the prior version of the statute. However, the legislature has the option of allowing amendments to apply retroactively to still-pending causes of action. Read on to see how courts grapple with these retroactive amendments.

Claims Pointer: In this case arising out of child abuse, the Oregon Court of Appeals held that because the legislature expressly made the applicable statute retroactive, it applied to all causes of action for which a final judgment had not yet been entered, including the plaintiff’s claims. The case is a reminder of both the legislature’s ability to amend statutes retroactively, and also of the retroactivity of causes of action based on child abuse.

Doe v. Silverman, 287 Or App 247 (August 16, 2017)

When John Doe (“Doe”) was a minor, he was close friends with the son of Samuel Silverman (“Silverman”). In 1996, Silverman sexually abused Doe on several occasions while plaintiff was a guest in defendant’s home and at least once in Doe’s own home. In 1997, Silverman was convicted of committing first-degree sexual abuse against plaintiff.

In 2014, when Doe was 30 years old, he brought suit against Silverman and Silverman’s wife, alleging negligence, sexual battery, and intentional infliction of severe emotional distress. Silverman moved for summary judgment on the ground that Doe’s complaint was time barred under the applicable statute, ORS 12.117. The 1993 version of the statute, which was in effect at the time of the abuse, required Doe to commence his action prior to his 24th birthday. Doe argued that the current version of the statute as amended in 2009 should apply, which would permit him to commence his action at any time...

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