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Emery v. State – Case Brief Summary (Oregon)

In Emery v. State, 297 Ore. 755, 688 P.2d 72 (Or. 1984), the court considered whether the statute entitled plaintiff to damages to his pickup truck that was seized by the state as evidence on a warrant. Id. at 73-74. The plaintiffs contended that the Oregon "legislature intended that in addition to restoring possession of the seized property to the owner, the state is also required to restore the property to its previous condition.

In other words, they argued that the defendants are required to give the 1977 pickup truck back to them in the same condition it was at the time of the seizure or pay damages." Id. at 75.

The Emery court determined that the legislature used the term "return" in § 133.633(1)(a) and the term "restore" in § 133.633(1)(b) "because it perceived a distinction in the classes of people moving to reclaim the possession of property that had been seized." Id. at 76.

The Emery court explained that the legislature:

placed a tight and limited definition on the term "return" and in effect used it to mean that property could only be "returned" to people and premises from whence it came. Having used a tight definition of "return" in § 133.633(1)(a) then the legislature needed a broader term to define the giving back of property to other persons claiming the right to possession under subdivision (b) and chose the word "restore." People in the latter category include the owners of stolen property--their "rightful possession of the things seized" may be "restored." Id.

That court further explained that "to hold otherwise and follow the plaintiffs' contention would mean that persons claiming under § 133.633(1)(a) would be entitled only to the return of possession of the property seized while those qualifying under § 133.633(1)(b) would be able to collect damages. There is no logical basis for such a distinction and we hold that the legislature did not so intend." Id.