Disclaimer: No appellate court has yet interpreted the operative language of HB 4212. Each practitioner should review the law to determine whether and how it might apply in any particular circumstance. This material is provided for informational purposes only and does not establish, report, or create the standard of care for attorneys in Oregon, nor does it represent a complete analysis of the topics. Readers should conduct their own appropriate legal research. The information presented does not represent legal advice.
COVID-19 State of Emergency Declaration
On April 29, 2021, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order No. 21-10, which was the seventh extension of Executive Order No. 20-03 and the COVID-19 State of Emergency since her original order declaring an emergency on March 8, 2020. On June 25, 2021, Governor Brown then issued Executive Order No. 21-15, which extended Executive Order No. 20-03 and the state of emergency to December 31, 2021, unless extended or terminated earlier by the Governor.
2020 Legislation: House Bill 4212
As a comprehensive measure to address issues related to COVID-19, House Bill 4212 became effective on June 30, 2020. The operative language of HB 4212 has not yet been interpreted by appellate courts as of the date of this writing. Among numerous other provisions, the bill authorizes the Oregon Supreme Court to suspend or extend time periods that apply to court proceedings, including most civil matters, including tolling the period for the commencement of civil actions. See HB 4212, Sec 6-7. Specifically, Section 7(1) of HB 4212 states: “If the expiration of the time to commence an action or give notice of a claim falls within the time in which any declaration of a state of emergency issued by the Governor related to COVID-19, and any extension of the declaration, is in effect, or within 90 days after the declaration and any extension is no longer in effect, the expiration of the time to commence the action or give notice of the claim is extended to a date 90 days after the declaration and any extension is no longer in effect.”
Section 7(1) applies to the following:
- Time periods for commencing an action under ORS Chapter 12;
- The time period for commencing an action for wrongful death in ORS 30.020;
- The time period for commencing an action or giving notice of claim under ORS 30.275 (tort claim notice); and
- Any other time limitation for the commencement of a civil cause of action or the giving of notice of a civil claim established by statute.
Section 7(1) does not apply to:
- Time limitations for the commencement of criminal actions;
- The initiation of an appeal to the magistrate division of the Oregon Tax Court or an appeal from the magistrate division to the regular division;
- The initiation of an appeal or judicial review proceeding in the Court of Appeals; or
- The initiation of any type of case or proceeding in the Supreme Court.
2021 Legislation: Senate Bill 813
Senate Bill 813, which modifies HB 4212, became effective July 14, 2021. SB 813 was intended to clarify HB 4212’s statute-of-limitations provisions and states that Section 7(1) applies to “expirations of the time to commence an action or give notice of a claim occurring: (a) On or after March 8, 2020, and on or before the date 90 days after the declaration of a state of emergency issued by the Governor on March 8, 2020, and any extensions of the declaration, is no longer in effect; or (b) During the time in which any other declaration of a state of emergency issued by the Governor related to COVID-19, and any extension of the declaration, is in effect, or within 90 days after the declaration and any extension is no longer in effect.”
Unknown Effect of Legislation
HB 4212, Section 8, provides that Sections 6 and 7 are repealed on December 31, 2021. SB 813 does not repeal or amend Section 8 of HB 4212 or otherwise reference the automatic repeal of HB 4212, Sections 6 and 7.
It is currently unknown whether statutes of limitations will be extended for 90 days after the automatic repeal on December 31, 2021. The effects of HB 4212 and SB 813 on statutes of limitations (other than those specified) are unknown, and practitioners are cautioned NOT to rely on any provisions that purport to extend or toll statutes of limitations. As always, the PLF strongly encourages lawyers to file lawsuits impacted or potentially impacted by HB 4212 early and not wait until the last minute to file.