Bacon v. Harris

Decision Date11 May 1960
Citation352 P.2d 472,221 Or. 553
PartiesShirley P. BACON, Appellant, v. Leo A. HARRIS, Dr. O. Meredith Wilson; State of Oregon Department of Higher Education, and Dr. R. F. Kleinsorge, Henry F. Cabell, G. F. Chambers, L. S. Finseth, William E. Walsh, A. S. Grant, Cheryl S. MacNaughton, Herman Oliver, Dr. Charles S. Byrne, and Ted L. Bouck, Respondents.
CourtOregon Supreme Court

Keith D. Skelton, Eugene, argued the cause for appellant. On the brief were Porter & Skelton, Eugene.

Windsor Calkins, Eugene, argued the cause for respondents. On the brief were Calkins & Calkins, Eugene.


McALLISTER, Chief Justice.

This is an action to recover damages for personal injuries sustained by the plaintiff, Shirley P. Bacon, when she fell on a stairway while attending a basketball game in McArthur Court at the University of Oregon in Eugene. The defendants are the Department of Higher Education, the nine directors of the State Board of Higher Education, Dr. O. Meredith Wilson, the President of the University of Oregon, Leo A. Harris, the athletic director of the university and Ted L. Bouck, an employee of the university who, according to the complaint, had direct and personal control and supervision over the ushers, if any, stationed at tunnel 20 at said McArthur Court. The jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff for $14,360 and judgment was entered thereon. Thereafter defendants moved for judgment in their favor notwithstanding the verdict. The motion was allowed, the judgment for plaintiff was set aside and a judgment was entered for the defendants. The plaintiff appeals assigning as error the granting of defendants' motion for a judgment n. o. v.

The accident occurred on December 7, 1954, while plaintiff was attending a basketball game between the University of Oregon and Seattle University in McArthur Court on the campus at Eugene. Plaintiff attended the game with her husband who paid her admission fee. During the half-time intermission plaintiff started to go downstairs to the refreshment stand. While she was on the stairway she was jostled by a person or persons unknown causing her to fall headlong from near the top of the stairs to the landing at the bottom, resulting in severe personal injuries.

In her complaint plaintiff charges that the defendants, and each of them, were negligent in the following particulars:

'A. In failing to provide, maintain or install handrails on both sides of said stairway in Tunnel 20, said stairway being more than 88 inches in width.

'B. In failing to install, maintain or provide a handrail in the middle of said stairway.

'C. In failing to provide ushers or other personnel to supervise and control the conduct of the said crowd, and especially to prevent running and jostling on said stairway.'

The trial court set aside the judgment for plaintiff on the ground that 'all of the named defendants were at all material times acting in their respective official capacities, and that there is no evidence of any negligence upon the part of any individual defendant in an individual capacity proximately causing the plaintiff's injuries.'

Although it is not named as a defendant we think this is, in legal effect, an action against the State Board of Higher Education and will so treat it. See State ex rel. Kleinsorge et al. v. Reid, Or., 352 P.2d 466.

The plaintiff contends that the State Board of Higher Education, hereinafter called the board, is not immune from suit because it is a public corporation and that as to such corporations the state has waived its immunity. Plaintiff relies on ORS 30.320 which, when this action was filed, read as follows:

'A suit or action may be maintained against any county and against the State of Oregon by and through and in the name...

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10 cases
  • Albers v. Whitley, Civ. A. No. 81-517-PA.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Oregon
    • August 31, 1982
    ...statute). Prior to enactment of the Tort Claims Act in 1967, public bodies were immune from all tort liability. E.g., Bacon v. Harris, 221 Or. 553, 352 P.2d 472 (1972). Additionally, employees were immune from tort liability arising from the performance of "discretionary functions." Jarrett......
  • Thacker v. Board of Trustees of Ohio State University
    • United States
    • Ohio Supreme Court
    • June 27, 1973
    ...(1942), 190 Okl. 269, 122 P.2d 139; State, ex rel. Dept. of Highways, v. McKnight (1972), Okl., 496 P.2d 775.Oregon: Bacon v. Harris (1960), 221 Or. 553, 352 P.2d 472; Smith v. Cooper (1970), 256 Or. 485, 475 P.2d 78. But, see O.R.S. 30.260-30.300.Utah: Cobia v. Roy City (1961), 12 Utah 2d ......
  • Krieger v. Just
    • United States
    • Oregon Court of Appeals
    • April 20, 1993
    ...the tort while acting in the scope of the employment. Before 1967, public bodies were immune from tort liability. Bacon v. Harris, 221 Or. 553, 352 P.2d 472 (1960). Public employees were not immune, however, unless the liability arose from the performance of "discretionary functions." Jarre......
  • Comley v. Emanuel Lutheran Charity Bd., 417-542
    • United States
    • Oregon Court of Appeals
    • August 1, 1978
    ...of Higher Education was wholly immune from liability for its torts under the doctrine of governmental immunity. Bacon v. Harris et al., 221 Or. 553, 557, 352 P.2d 472 (1960). Under the Act, the Board is liable for certain of its torts for claims arising after July 1, 1968. ORS 30.265(4) "OR......
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