Bredberg v. Verble

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 12-21-2016
  • Case #: A160823
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Sercombe, P.J. for the Court; Flynn, J.; & DeHoog, J.

Trial courts may not dismiss a case for want of prosecution when the case has been actively litigated and is proceeding through the stages of litigation, even if the process is occurring slowly.

Plaintiff appealed a judgment dismissing his third amended complaint for defamation, intentional interference with economic relations, false light, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff is a soil scientist and a member of the Soil Sciences Society of America (SSSA). Plaintiff claimed that Defendants, employees of the OR Dept. of State Lands made false statements about Plaintiff to the SSSA that harmed his reputation and business. After five years, the trial court granted Defendants dismissal based on failure to prosecute. The trial court found that Defendants had suffered "severe prejudice in time and expense" as a result of Plaintiff's delays. Trial courts typically dismiss a case for failure to prosecute when a case has been dormant for an extended period of time. Plaintiff actively litigated this case, despite the repeated delays. Plaintiff's case also was proceeding, albeit slowly, through the summary jugdment and discovery stages of litigation. The Court held that "the court's decision to dismiss for want of prosecution in this case was not justified by, and was clearly against, evidence and reason." Reversed and remanded. 

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