Oregon State Court System

  • Circuit Court: The Circuit Court is the trial level court of general jurisdiction, and hears civil matters, including tort actions.
  • Court of Appeals: The Court of Appeals is the court of general appellate jurisdiction in Oregon, and hears most civil appeals from the circuit courts.
  • Supreme Court of Oregon: The Supreme Court is the highest court in the state of Oregon. The Supreme Court hears appeals by permission for certain civil cases.

*Some of the courts in the Oregon Court System also have jurisdiction over other proceedings which are not covered here.

Pleadings

In the beginning stages of a lawsuit legal documents called pleadings are filed. To initiate the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a pleading called a Complaint which sets forth one or more causes of action against the defendant(s) named in the Complaint. After the Plaintiff files the Complaint and properly serves the Complaint on the Defendant(s), the Defendant(s) then have 30 days from the date of service to file a pleading called an Answer. The Defendant(s)’ Answer will respond to each of the causes of action in the Plaintiff’s Complaint and set forth any defenses, cross claims and/or counter claims the Defendant(s) will raise.

Discovery

After all parties to the lawsuit have filed pleadings, the case then proceeds to Discovery. Essentially, the discovery process is a fact-finding and investigative endeavor in which each party gathers information and evidence from opposing parties and/or non-party witnesses. While the discovery process includes a variety of other mechanisms used to gather information, it will generally consist of the following:

  • Written Discovery is generally used at the start of discovery and comes in two basic forms:

    • Interrogatories – Formal questions and/or requests for information served on one party by an opposing party. The party served with interrogatories must provide written responses to each of the interrogatories or respond with an objection to the interrogatory.
    • Requests for Production of Documents – Often served with a set of interrogatories, requests for production of documents are formal requests for certain documentation relevant to the claims and defenses raised in the pleadings.
  • Depositions – In a deposition, either a party to the lawsuit or a non-party witness will provide oral testimony under oath and in the presence of a court reporter who makes a written record of everything said during the deposition.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Per ORS § 36.400-.405, if a case is filed in one of Oregon’s circuit courts and involves expected damages of an amount less than $50,000, the matter will be subject to an arbitration proceeding. Arbitration can be an expedited way to get a decision in a matter that is in dispute and is generally less formal than a court room proceeding. Once an arbitrator is decided upon, both sides will provide the arbitrator with copies of pleadings and other documents contained in the court file. The arbitrator will issue a decision on the case, which can be appealed to go a new trial before the court.

Trial

If the parties have not reached a settlement through mediation or otherwise, at the conclusion of discovery, the case then proceeds to trial. Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial can take as little as a single day or as long as several weeks to complete. At the conclusion of a typical civil trial, the jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff and award money damages to the plaintiff or the jury will return a verdict for the defendant finding that the defendant was not at fault.

Motions and Appeals

A Notice of Appeal must be filed within 30 days of the date the judgment is entered in the register.

Recovery

In Oregon, the statute of limitations for actions on domestic judgments is 10 years.

DISCLAIMER:

The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.

By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Oregon. Should you have a question/concern specific to Oregon law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon.