Court sides with defendants in liability case

The Oregon Court of Appeals recently reviewed a case regarding whether the provider of electrical requirements for a facility that produced semiconductors was liable for damages occurring in relation to an outage in 2007. The plaintiffs in the case contended that the defendants were responsible. The defendants filed a cross-motion in the original case, asking for summary judgement based on the fact that the entities had signed a contract releasing defendants from such liability.

The trial court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgement, agreeing that the contract released the defendant from liability in a power outage situation. The plaintiffs appealed the case, arguing that the trial court had not interpreted the contract clause correctly. The plaintiffs argued that liability was not as limited as the defendant alleged.

The appeals court held that the trial court did not make an error in its understanding of the contract. The appeals court upheld the trial court's decision, stating that the contract between plaintiffs and defendants unambiguously released the Eugene Water & Electric Board from liability in the power outage occurring in 2007.

While this appeal and decision might seem simple on the surface -- the appellate court agreed with both the trial court and defendant's understanding of the contract -- it brings up an important point with regard to commercial law and litigation. Businesses of any type should fully understand the details -- and ramifications of those details -- before signing a contract. While appeals can be won and are helpful with it comes to fighting commercial legal battles, negotiating a contract that supports your needs for any future legal battles can help reduce the chance that you will lose at any level of the legal system.

Source: Court of Appeals Media Release, "Media Releases," accessed Feb. 05, 2016

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