FAQ - Immunity

On July 6, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued an opinion in the Fields v. City of Newport case, effectively ending recreational immunity for improved trails and striking it down as an “immunity” that protects public and private landowners from lawsuits. The City of Newport asked the Oregon Supreme Court to overrule the Court of Appeals and restore the portions of recreational immunity that were lost.  On October 5, 2023, the Oregon Supreme Court officially declined to review the Court of Appeals’ decision in Fields.  This action, called “review denied” functions as a de facto endorsement by the Oregon Supreme Court of the Oregon Court of Appeals’ decision striking down recreational immunity for paths to recreational areas.

Unless the Legislature steps in, from now on when a person suing a public entity or private land owner who provided access to Oregon's open spaces, and claims that their subjective intent was not primarily to recreate, then recreational immunity does not apply at the beginning of a suit.  Instead, the municipality (or private landowner) will have to defend the lawsuit all the way through a jury trial so the jury can decide what the plaintiff was thinking about their “primary intent.”

It is understood that this recommendation will not be popular.  Weighing many factors and with a focus on the solvency of the trust and our members, this recommendation was determined to be the best course of action. 
The tasks required to close access ways to recreation areas might seem daunting.  Once the Oregon Supreme Court’s decision was made, it was determined that less aggressive measures would fail to meet the goal of providing protected access. 

To see the FAQ published by CityCounty Insurance Services, go here: Recreational Immunity FAQ (cisoregon.org)