Oregon Extends Statute of Limitations Due to COVID-19

By: Skip Winters

By Executive Order, Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency beginning on March 8, 2020 related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of that emergency, Governor Brown, working in consultation with the Oregon Supreme Court, assisted the Oregon legislature in pushing through new legislation extending the statute of limitations deadlines for most civil lawsuits.

The extension applies to most civil claims under Oregon law subject to the statute of limitation established in ORS Chapter 12— like negligence and contract claims—as well as any other civil cause of action subject to a limitations period based on statute. This would include employment and discrimination claims based on state law. The extension does not apply to criminal actions, appeals or, obviously, claims based on federal law.

The statute of limitations grace period will expire 90 days after the state of emergency, or any extensions are no longer in effect. As of this writing, we don’t yet have an indication of when the state of emergency or any extensions will end. The current order is in effect until September 4, 2020 – but, again, this may be extended.

When the dam breaks after the state of emergency ends, we expect a veritable flood of claims that have been piling up behind it. Based on the projected timelines, which include all of the cases already currently on hold in court, however long this logjam lasts will have a lasting impact on scheduling for at least the next couple of years. Our firm will continue to closely monitor the impacts of COVID-19 on claims and court procedures as the situation unfolds.

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