Indemnity for Active Negligence Fades Away

March 23, 2015

Traditionally, when two defendants were responsible for someone else’s damages, the law occasionally permitted one of the defendants to recover payment of damages from the other. The idea was that if one defendant’s wrongdoing was the result of an affirmative act (was “actively” wrong) and the other’s was a passive omission, the passive defendant could recover from the active one. A recent case in Oregon highlights a growing trend in states with comparative fault laws to drop that rule. Read the rest of this entry »

Child Support for Washington Children in College

March 16, 2015

When parents are ordered to pay child support, they may not think about what happens when the children go to college. In Oregon, support continues at the amount ordered, but the money is paid to the child instead of the parent, and continues so long as the child stays in school (up to age 21) and maintains a C average. In Washington, the law is more generous. Parents can be ordered to pay part of tuition, room, and board if the child is dependent on them. A recent case illustrates how the courts may apply this principle. Read the rest of this entry »


March 13, 2015

Although traditionally wildlife was not considered anyone’s property unless killed, captured, or domesticated, in Oregon, wildlife has been declared state property. As a result, an hunting without a license or out of season can be prosecuted under the criminal mischief laws for damaging someone else’s property.

Causing Minor Difficulties for the Other Parent Ruled not Enough for a Custody Ruling

March 9, 2015

In Oregon, one of the factors to be considered in deciding custody disputes is each parent’s willingness to foster the children’s relationship with the other parent (assuming that parent is not unfit). A recent case considers the question of how much a parent should subordinate their own interests to ensure the other parent’s relationship is supported. The answer is that if a parent’s decisions cause minor difficulties for the other parent, the courts should not penalize the parent. Read the rest of this entry »

Legal Recourse Against Abusive Private Lending

March 2, 2015

Loan sharking remains a problem in some communities. Private lenders may target people with poor or insufficient credit to obtain the loans they want, and in some communities, there is no tradition of banks o similar regulated lenders. A recent case in Oregon shows that the courts are willing to protect borrowers from abusive lenders. Read the rest of this entry »

Drinking and Shooting

February 23, 2015

When an intoxicated person gets hold of a gun, the situation may be dangerous. If the gun owner knows the person is drunk, and someone is injured, then it may be possible to sue the owner, according to a recent case from Utah.

The host at a party had a gun in a cabinet. During the party, he showed one of the guests, who was very drunk, a shotgun in his safe. Depending on which of three accounts the host gave, either (1) he then showed the guest a handgun and failed to notice that she had kept it, or (2) the guest, having shown an interest with in the handgun, obtained access to it without his noticing, or (3) the guest found the handgun had been left out of the safe and picked it up. Shortly afterward, the guest accidentally shot herself.

As might be expected, her estate sued the owner. He defended on the grounds that he was not required to protect her from accessing the gun. The trial court agreed, and dismissed the suit before trial. On appeal, the Utah Supreme Court disagreed, noting that presenting a gun to an intoxicated person shows a clear risk of danger, that the host may have acted affirmatively by supplying the gun instead of simply failing to prevent the guest from gaining access, that Utah gun control laws prohibited allowing Impaired persons from gaining access to guns, and that the host was in the best position to prevent danger. As a result, it held that the owner might be found negligent. On the other hand, it also noted that the guest might have been negligent, and it is possible that her negligence outweighed the owner’s, which in Utah would result in her not being able to recover. It sent the case back to the trial court for a trial.

If the same case was heard in Oregon, it would probably have a similar result, but on slightly different reasoning. Oregon law tends to focus primarily on the foreseeability of harm, and allowing an intoxicated person to get hold of a gun is probably a situation where harm is very foreseeable. Because of a case from 1993 involving an escaped convict to steal weapons, however, it is possible that it may be necessary in Oregon to show why it would be foreseeable that the particular person might be dangerous when holding a gun.

In general, if you have a party where people are drinking, it’s probably safest not to show off guns. It’s also a good idea to ask your guests to check their weapons before the party starts. If someone is injured, talk to your insurer or a lawyer as soon as possible. If you or someone you love is injured or killed, you may want to talk to a lawyer. Get as much information as possible so that the lawyer can make a good assessment of the situation.

Honesty is Such a Necessary Word

February 16, 2015

From time to time, questions of honesty arise in unusual circumstances. A recent case in Oregon discusses the potential for civil liability for withholding whether a person is carrying a sexually transmitted infection to one’s partner. Read the rest of this entry »


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