Oregon Ruling: Private Contractors Can be Sued

April 21, 2009

The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that private contractors working for public agencies can be sued separately for liability claims.

In a unanimous decision, the court said a private company that contracts to perform services cannot avoid liability unless the public body could control the physical details of the conduct leading to the claim.

First Transit Inc. contracted with the Port of Portland for shuttle services between the Portland International Airport terminal and three airport parking lots.

A woman sued First Transit after she was injured while riding on a shuttle bus, but the company argued it was acting as an “agent” of the Port and any lawsuits had to filed against the Port.

The Supreme Court rejected that argument and sent the case back to the trial court.

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