|November 29, 2002|
|Case decided November 29, 2002|
The full text of these opinions can be found at http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us
SAIF Corporation et al. v. Geoffrey R. Lewis, (WCB 97-04909)
(CA A103052) (SC S47997)
On review from the Court of Appeals in a judicial review from the Workers' Compensation Board. 170 Or App 201, 12 P3d 498 (2000). The decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed. The order of the Workers' Compensation Board is affirmed. Opinion of the Court by Justice Robert D. Durham. Justice Paul J. De Muniz did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.
Today, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed an order of the Workers' Compensation Board (board) that ruled that claimant's occupational disease was compensable because medical evidence supported by objective findings established the existence of the disease.
In February 1997, claimant, as part of his work for SAIF's insured, cleaned a building that contained insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides in liquid, powder, and granular forms. Claimant wore protective clothing, including a charcoal respirator mask and goggles. However, the mask leaked, and claimant removed his goggles when they became fogged. Claimant experienced several symptoms that day and the next morning, including a sore throat, sore neck, fatigue, dizziness, tinnitus, headache, sinus congestion, bright yellow phlegm and sputum, a chemical taste in his mouth, and vision abnormalities.
In March 1997, claimant sought medical treatment. Although claimant estimated that, by that time, he was seventy percent recovered, the doctor concluded that a work exposure had caused claimant's symptoms. In May 1997, when claimant was ninety-five percent recovered, three other doctors examined him. Those doctors did not share the first doctor's conclusion.
Claimant filed a workers' compensation claim for exposure to pesticide-contaminated dust, which SAIF denied. After a hearing, the board concluded that the claim was compensable, finding that medical evidence supported by objective findings established the existence of claimant's occupational disease. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the term "objective findings," as defined in ORS 656.005(19), did not support the medical evidence of claimant's disease, because claimant's symptoms were not "presently verifiable" at the time of his examination by the first doctor.
In an unanimous opinion by Justice Robert D. Durham, the Supreme Court held that claimant's occupational disease was compensable. The Court determined that the definition of "objective findings," in the context of a dispute over the compensability of a disease, does not require that the indications of injury or disease be present at the time of claimant's physical examination. Rather, the Court concluded that the definition of "objective findings" requires that an indication of injury or disease be capable of being verified at some time, or that physical findings or subjective responses to a physical examination be capable of being reproduced, measured, or observed. Because claimant reported symptoms that were capable of being observed and verified, including eye irritation, sinus congestion, and the production of bright yellow phlegm and sputum, the Court held that the board did not err in finding that claimant's occupational disease was established by medical evidence supported by objective findings. Accordingly, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals' decision and affirmed the order of the board.
On November 27, 2002, the Supreme Court:
1. Allowed a petition for review in*:
Black v. Arizala, S49774, A104791. Defendants seek review of a Court of Appeals decision that reversed two trial court rulings, one that dismissed the consolidated cases based on a forum selection clause in a limited partnership agreement, and another that dismissed plaintiffs’ claim under the Oregon Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (ORICO) for failure to state a claim.
The cases involve several enterprises whose purpose is to seek the award of radio communication frequencies from the Federal Communications Commission for use in communications- related businesses. However, for purposes of this appeal, only one case, involving investment in PCS 2000, L.P. (PCS), is involved. Plaintiffs purchased limited partnership interests in PCS, a Delaware limited partnership whose headquarters are in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Plaintiffs allege that in the process of selling the limited partnership interests, defendants violated the federal securities laws and the securities laws of Oregon and several other jurisdictions, committed common law fraud, and violated ORICO.
Defendants filed motions with the trial court, claiming that a forum selection clause in the limited partnership agreement, which provided for venue in Puerto Rico, should be enforced, and that plaintiffs failed to state a claim under ORICO because 1995 amendments to that statute, which was enacted before plaintiffs filed suit, added a requirement that plaintiffs could not meet. The trial court granted defendants’ motions.
Plaintiffs appealed. The Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court erred in granting relief to defendants on the basis of the forum selection clause. It also concluded that the trial court erred in holding that the 1995 amendments to ORICO (ORS 166.725) apply to events that occurred before their effective date. The decision of the Court of Appeals is reported at 182 Or App 16, 48 P3d 843 (2002).
Defendants petitioned for review. On review, the issues are:
(1) Whether application of a forum selection clause may be resolved by means of an early motion to dismiss, with any factual issues resolved by the court;
(2) Whether, as a matter of law, a forum selection clause that applies to “any legal action arising from this Agreement” covers disputes arising from conduct that allegedly induced the claimants to become parties to the agreement; and
(3) Whether the 1995 amendments to ORICO (ORS 166.725) apply prospectively or retroactively.
*These summaries of cases in which the Supreme Court has allowed review are prepared for the benefit of members of the media to assist them in reporting the court's activities to the public. Parties and practitioners should not rely on the summaries, or the statement of issues to be decided in the summaries, as indicating the questions that the Supreme Court will consider on review. Regarding the questions that the Supreme Court may consider on review, see Oregon Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.20.
END OF DOCUMENT