February 15, 2008
Oregon Case on First Impression of Wrongful Death Venue
This is an interesting one for the court's fine analysis of the textual "clues" involved in ascertaining the answer to a question that is, on its face, quite unclear. Venue statute says, basically, a wrongful death claim can be brought, among other places, in the county where the claim arose. If the injury that led to death is in county A, but death occurs in county B, where did the wrongful death claim arise?
Where the injury occurred, is the answer of the Oregon Supreme Court in Howell v. Willamette Urology (Or. 2008).
It's an interesting, brief, opinion that relies heavily on the fact that under Oregon law a wrongful death claim can be filed prior to death, and must be filed within three years of the time the plaintiff knew, or should have known, of the claim. It's a well-done opinion, in my view, and you ought to enjoy it. Quite short.
And, significant - I would imagine that, for Oregon for example, this means that claims can be brought in smaller communities, even though death may occur later in larger communities with different jury pools. No doubt significant practical impact for lawyers, too.
Now, I hadn't realized a wrongful death claim could accrue before death, and that realization made me think: I would hate to be a plaintiff and awake from a coma, or whatever, and find there's a wrongful death claim already pending in my name! To quote Monty Python, "I'm not dead yet."
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