Vaughn v. Vaughn, 012121 ORCA, A167919

Docket Nº:A167919
Opinion Judge:DeHOOG, P. J.
Party Name:Shirley VAUGHN, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Donald VAUGHN, Respondent-Respondent.
Attorney:Benjamin M. Karlin fled the brief for appellant. Lynn Shepard fled the brief for respondent.
Judge Panel:Before DeHoog, Presiding Judge, and Aoyagi, Judge, and Kamins, Judge.
Case Date:January 21, 2021
Court:Court of Appeals of Oregon

308 Or.App. 619

Shirley VAUGHN, Petitioner-Appellant,


Donald VAUGHN, Respondent-Respondent.


Court of Appeals of Oregon

January 21, 2021

Submitted January 4, 2019

Multnomah County Circuit Court 17DR08795; Patricia L. McGuire, Judge.

Benjamin M. Karlin fled the brief for appellant.

Lynn Shepard fled the brief for respondent.

Before DeHoog, Presiding Judge, and Aoyagi, Judge, and Kamins, Judge.

[308 Or.App. 620] DeHOOG, P. J.

Daughter, an adult, appeals a judgment dismissing her petition under ORS 109.010 for support from father, a resident of Nebraska, after the trial court granted father's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. On appeal, daughter argues that there is a statutory basis for personal jurisdiction and that extending jurisdiction over father would comport with due process and the United States Constitution. Father contends that he lacks the requisite minimum contacts with Oregon for the trial court to have jurisdiction over him. We agree with daughter and, accordingly, reverse.

When reviewing the dismissal of a matter for lack of personal jurisdiction, and, as here, "the historical facts are undisputed, we review for legal error the trial court's determination whether those facts establish personal jurisdiction over" the nonresident party. Swank v. Terex Utilities, Inc., 274 Or.App. 47, 50, 360 P.3d 586 (2015), rev den, 358 Or. 551 (2016). We begin by summarizing those facts.

Daughter was born in 1993, and father adopted daughter in 1996, while he was married to mother. The family lived together in Oregon until mother and father divorced in 2000. Father remained in Oregon and paid support for daughter until 2002, at which point he moved to Nebraska. He has lived in Nebraska since 2002. While in Nebraska, father continued to make support payments for daughter until 2014, when daughter no longer qualified as a "[c]hild attending school" under ORS 107.108.1 At that time, citing daughter's mental health disabilities, mother initiated a proceeding in Oregon against father in an attempt to modify their divorce judgment and obtain support for daughter as an adult under ORS 109.010.2 Vaughn and Vaughn, 275 Or.App. 533, 534, 365 P.3d 620 (2015). The trial court [308 Or.App. 621] dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. Id. at 535. On appeal, we reversed and explained: "Personal jurisdiction continues for a motion that is captioned in relation to the dissolution judgment, but we do not imply, nor decide, that it is proper to seek relief under ORS 109.010 as if it were a matter modifying a past dissolution judgment. See ORS 107.135(1)(a) (vacation or modification of a judgment for 'minor children and * * * children attending school'). Nor do we decide whether it might be necessary for a party to initiate a separate proceeding to seek support for an adult child under ORS 109.010 and, necessarily effect anew personal jurisdiction for that proceeding."

Id. at 537 (omission in original). On remand, no support was ordered.

This family comes before us again after daughter initiated a separate proceeding to establish a support order under ORS 109.010.3 Father disputed personal jurisdiction and moved to dismiss daughter's petition. See ORCP 21 A(2) (authorizing motions to dismiss for "lack of jurisdiction over the person"). In response to father's motion, daughter argued, in part, that the court had personal jurisdiction under ORCP 4 B and ORS 110.518. ORCP 4 provides that an Oregon court "has jurisdiction over a party" under specific circumstances. ORCP 4 B, in turn, provides that a court has jurisdiction over a party "[i]n any action which may be brought under statutes or rules of this state that specifically confer grounds for personal jurisdiction over the defendant." Daughter argued that ORS 110.518(1)(c) and (d) conferred such grounds as to father. ORS 110.518(1)-part of Oregon's codification of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)-provides a list of instances where, "[i]n a proceeding to establish or enforce a support order or to determine parentage of a child, a tribunal of this state may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident individual." ORS 110.518(1)(c) and (d), respectively, provide that a court may exercise jurisdiction in that context when "[t]he individual resided with the child in this state" or "[t]he individual [308 Or.App. 622] resided in this state and provided prenatal expenses or support for the child."4 Father argued that, under ORCP 4 K(2), 5asserting personal jurisdiction over him was improper and would violate his due process rights because he lacked the requisite contacts with the State of Oregon.

The trial court granted father's motion. Apparently accepting that daughter had established that the terms of ORS 110.518(1)(c) and (d) were satisfied, the court nonetheless rejected daughter's argument that those statutes conferred jurisdiction, reasoning that the 2001 commentary to the UIFSA serves as legislative history and that it cautions that "an 'overly literal construction' of the statute could possibly overreach due process." The court then determined that father "does not have sufficient minimum contacts with Oregon to make it fair to require him to defend the case in Oregon." In reaching that conclusion, the court noted that the facts of this case are similar to those presented in Horn and Horn, 97 Or.App. 177, 775 P.2d 338 (1989). The trial court subsequently issued a general judgment dismissing daughter's petition, which daughter now appeals.

On appeal, the parties reprise the arguments that they made in the trial court. In support of her argument that jurisdiction is valid under ORCP 4 B and ORS 110.518, daughter argues that the trial court overlooked aspects of the relevant UIFSA commentary. Daughter acknowledges that the commentary to the UIFSA cautions against "'overly literal construction[s]'" of the statute, but she contends that the relevant commentary-specifically the commentary accompanying the 2008 amendments to the UIFSA-also contemplates extending jurisdiction in circumstances such as those present here. Daughter separately argues, as she did in the trial court, that personal jurisdiction is proper in this matter under the "catchall provision" of ORCP 4 L. See Robinson v. Harley-Davidson Motor Co., 354 Or. 572, 576-77, [308 Or.App. 623] 316 P.3d 287 (2013) (referring to ORCP 4 L as a "catchall provision"). Under ORCP 4 L, an Oregon court has jurisdiction over a party "in any action where prosecution of the action against a defendant in this state is not inconsistent with the Constitution of this state or the Constitution of the United States" even if jurisdiction is not established under any other basis provided in ORCP 4. According to daughter, exercising personal jurisdiction over father satisfies due process because this case arises from the relationship that father had with daughter in Oregon, and, she argues, father unilaterally left the state knowing that he was leaving his daughter and associated obligations behind in Oregon.

In response, father reprises his argument that, because this is a matter regarding support, the applicable section of ORCP 4 is ORCP 4 K rather than ORCP 4 B. And, according to father, ORCP 4 K "terminates personal jurisdiction one year after a respondent leaves the state." As a result, father argues, daughter's argument that ORCP 4 B and ORS 110.518 allow for jurisdiction here "creates a direct conflict" with ORCP 4 K. In father's view, ORS 110.518 is constrained by ORCP 4 K, and, because jurisdiction is not valid under ORCP 4 K, the trial court did not err. Father further argues that extending jurisdiction under ORS 110.518 would be, as the commentary to the 2008 amendments to the UIFSA cautions against, an "'overly literal construction'" of the statute that would run afoul of due process. Relying on federal and state case law construing the general limits of due process, father argues that he does not have sufficient contacts with Oregon to warrant an exercise of personal jurisdiction over him. Based on that case law, he argues that ORCP 4 L provides no broader justification for personal jurisdiction and points out that daughter has cited no cases that rely on ORCP 4 L as a basis for "expand[ing] jurisdiction in domestic cases."

As noted, we review whether a court has personal jurisdiction over a nonresident party as a question of law. Albar and Najjar, 292 Or.App. 146, 151 n 2, 424 P.3d 774, rev den, 363 Or. 677 (2018). "A valid judgment imposing a personal obligation on a defendant may be entered only by a court having personal jurisdiction over the defendant." Id. at 151. A "plaintiff has the burden of alleging and [308 Or.App. 624] proving facts sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction." Munson v. Valley Energy Investment Fund, 264 Or.App. 679, 700, 333 P.3d 1102 (2014) (internal brackets and quotation marks omitted). "In determining whether an Oregon court has long-arm jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, we look to ORCP 4." Swank, 274 Or.App. at 49. "Personal jurisdiction may be 'general' under ORCP 4 A, 'specific' under one of the provisions in ORCP 4 B through K, or 'specific' under the 'catchall' provision of ORCP 4 L." Id. at 49-50. Even if the conditions in one of the sections of ORCP 4 are met, we must nonetheless consider whether extending jurisdiction in that instance would comport with due process. See Albar, 292 Or.App. at 153 (examining whether "jurisdiction comported with the guarantees of due process" after determining that the trial court had jurisdiction over father under ORCP 4 L and ORS 110.518); see also Biggs v. Robert Thomas, O.D., Inc., 133 Or.App. 621, 626, 893 P.2d 545 (1995) (although "subsections B...

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