The Supreme Court issued an important decision about statutes of limitations under Oregon law on January 30, 2014. In Rice v. Rabb, 354 Or 721 (2014) the Court held that there is a discovery rule for conversion claims under ORS 12.080(4) and reversed the Court of Appeals, which held that Rice’s conversion claim was time-barred because plaintiff sued more than six years after the tort, the taking of the Queen of the Pendleton Round-Up outfit, was committed. (See our previous post about the Court of Appeals opinion in that case for the full round-up of the facts.) The Supreme Court concluded that Rice’s claims “accrued” when she obtained the knowledge of the tort committed on her by Rabb. Because Rice did not know that Rabb had taken the outfit until 2007, years after Rabb took the outfit, her claim did not accrue until then.
Construction defects and damage caused by construction defects are often not immediately perceptible to owners. Based on the reasoning of Rice v. Rabb, claims for negligent construction under ORS 12.080(3) are likely subject to a discovery rule and claims for breach of contract under ORS 12.080(1) may also be subject to a discovery rule. Cases currently pending before the Court of Appeals may answer those questions.