OSB Professional Liability Fund

Governor’s Order Extends Statute of Limitations

January 12, 2021
by Sharnel Mesirow

On December 17, 2020, Oregon Governor Kate Brown extended the state-issued Executive Order No. 20-67, which served to extend Executive Order No. 20-03 and the COVID-19 State of Emergency for a fifth time. Based on this latest extension, Executive Order 20-03 and the COVID-19 State of Emergency will be extended for an additional 60 days, through March 3, 2021. So what does this mean for statute of limitations issues for civil litigators?

House Bill 4212 was signed into law on June 30, 2020. The bill authorizes the Oregon Supreme Court to suspend or extend time periods that apply to court proceedings, including most civil matters, including tolling the period for the commencement of civil actions. See HB 4212, Sec. 6-7. Specifically, Section 7 of HB 4212 states: “If the expiration of the time to commence an action or give notice of a claim falls within the time in which any declaration of a state of emergency issued by the Governor related to COVID-19...the expiration of the time to commence the action or give notice of the claim is extended to a date 90 days after the declaration and any extension is no longer in effect.” (Emphasis added.)

Simply stated, the Governor’s order has extended the state of emergency through March 3, 2021, which will extend the statutes of limitations as stated in ORS 12.110 (two-year statute of limitations on negligence actions) and ORS 30.020 (three-year statute of limitations on wrongful death actions). If the Governor does not issue any further extensions, the statute of limitations on these civil matters will extend to June 1, 2021, or 90 days after the Governor’s extension is no longer in effect.

NOTE: As of the date of this writing, HB 4212 Section 7 will be automatically repealed on December 31, 2021.

Disclaimer: The operative language of HB 4212 has not yet been interpreted by state or federal appellate courts. Each practitioner should review the law to determine whether it might be applicable in any particular circumstance. This material is provided for informational purposes only and does not establish, report, or create the standard of care for attorneys in Oregon, nor does it represent a complete analysis of the topics. Readers should conduct their own appropriate legal research. The information presented does not represent legal advice.