2015 ORS 30.287¹
Counsel for public officer
  • when public funds not to be paid in settlement
  • effect on liability limit
  • defense by insurer

(1) If any civil action, suit or proceeding is brought against any officer, employee or agent of a local public body which on its face falls within the provisions of ORS 30.285 (Public body shall indemnify public officers) (1), or which the officer, employee or agent asserts to be based in fact upon an alleged act or omission in the performance of duty, the officer, employee or agent may file a written request for counsel with the governing body of the public body. The governing body shall thereupon engage counsel to appear and defend the officer, employee or agent unless after investigation it is determined that the claim or demand does not arise out of an alleged act or omission occurring in the performance of duty, or that the act or omission complained of amounted to malfeasance in office or willful or wanton neglect of duty, in which case the governing body shall reject defense of the claim.

(2) Any officer, employee or agent of a local public body against whom a claim within the scope of this section is made shall cooperate fully with the governing body and counsel in the defense of such claim. If the counsel determines and certifies to the governing body that such officer, employee or agent has not so cooperated or has otherwise acted in prejudice of the defense of the claim, the governing body may at any time reject the defense of the claim.

(3) If the governing body rejects defense of a claim under subsection (1) of this section, no public funds shall be paid in settlement of the claim or in payment of any judgment against such officer, employee or agent. Such action by the governing body shall not prejudice the right of the officer, employee or agent to assert and establish in an appropriate proceedings that the claim or demand in fact arose out of an alleged act or omission occurring in the performance of duty, or that the act or omission complained of did not amount to malfeasance in office or willful or wanton neglect of duty, in which case the officer, employee or agent shall be indemnified by the public body against liability and reasonable costs of defending the claim.

(4) Nothing in subsection (1), (2) or (3) of this section shall be deemed to increase the limits of liability of any public officer, agent or employee under ORS 30.260 (Definitions for ORS 30.260 to 30.300) to 30.300 (ORS 30.260 to 30.300 exclusive), or relieve any claimant of the necessity of compliance with ORS 30.275 (Notice of claim), nor to affect the liability of the local public body itself or of any other public officer, agent or employee on any claim arising out of the same accident or occurrence.

(5) The provisions of this section may be superseded to the extent that the claim against the public officer, employee or agent may be defended by any insurer, or may be subject under ORS 30.282 (Local public body insurance) to agreement with the Oregon Department of Administrative Services, in which case the provisions of the policy of insurance or other agreement are applicable. [1975 c.609 §20; 1985 c.565 §3; 1989 c.1004 §1; 2009 c.67 §12]

Notes of Decisions

Where public employer con­ducted no investiga­tion other than complaint against employee before declining his tendered de­fense, employer failed to satisfy investiga­tion require­ment of this sec­tion and was therefore re­quired to indemnify employee. Cunliffe v. Pomplin, 102 Or App 403, 794 P2d 816 (1990), Sup Ct review denied

Asser­tion by of­fi­cer, employee or agent that claim is based on alleged performance of duty does not expand duty to defend to acts not set out under ORS 30.285 (Public body shall indemnify public officers). City of Tualatin v. City-County Insurance Services Trust, 129 Or App 198, 878 P2d 1139 (1994), aff'd 321 Or 164, 894 P2d 1158 (1995)

Duty of public employer to indemnify and defend employee against suits arising in performance of employee's duty does not impose duty on plaintiff to give employer notice when suing employee in private capacity. Krieger v. Just, 319 Or 328, 876 P2d 754 (1994)

Prohibi­tion against public expenditure for de­fense of malfeasance or willful or wanton neglect does not apply to de­fense of claims other than tort claims. Eugene Police Employees' Associa­tion v. City of Eugene, 157 Or App 341, 972 P2d 1191 (1998), Sup Ct review denied

Where insurance policy applies to of­fi­cer, employee or agent but not to public body, policy releases public body only from obliga­tion to appoint counsel, not from duty under ORS 30.285 (Public body shall indemnify public officers) to defend, save harmless and indemnify. Genesis Indemnity Insurance Co. v. Deschutes County, 194 Or App 446, 95 P3d 748 (2004)

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Construing "malfeasance or wilful or wanton neglect of duty," (1975) Vol 37, p 911; indemnifica­tion when there is a judg­ment in excess of limita­tions, (1975) Vol 37, p 911; constitu­tionality of indemnity pro­vi­sion, (1975) Vol 37, p 911; in pari materia construc­tion of [former] ORS 30.270 with this sec­tion, (1977) Vol 38, p 1565; District attorneys as state employes for purposes of Tort Claims Act, (1980) Vol 41, p 177

Notes of Decisions

Dismissal of ac­tion for per­sonal injuries was improper where based solely upon allega­tions of complaint and allega­tions did not state sufficient facts for court to determine whether particular govern­mental act was discre­tionary func­tion or duty. Hulen v. City of Hermiston, 30 Or App 1141, 569 P2d 665 (1977)

Where plaintiff was mis­takenly arrested following computer retrieval of identifying and locator data for individual of similar name, demurrer as to three of defendants was properly sustained because plaintiff failed to allege sufficient facts from which duty to plaintiff could be discerned, and summary judg­ment as to two of defendants was improperly allowed because affidavits did not reveal whether defendant's acts were discre­tionary or ministerial. Murphy v. City of Portland, 36 Or App 745, 585 P2d 732 (1978)

Complaint allega­tion that plaintiff submitted applica­tion for building permit in proper form was sufficient to allow pros­e­cu­­tion of claim against public of­fi­cer. Dykeman v. State, 39 Or App 629, 593 P2d 1183 (1979)

Even if Children's Services Division's failure to follow re­quired APA rulemaking pro­ce­dures could constitute tort within meaning of these sec­tions, CSD was immune from tort liability under ORS 30.265 (Scope of liability of public body, officers, employees and agents) (3)(f) where it terminated its benefit program without prior rulemaking pro­ce­dures. Burke v. Children's Services Division, 288 Or 533, 607 P2d 141 (1980)

Ac­tions brought under 42 U.S.C. 1981 are subject to two-year statute of limita­tions of Tort Claims Act. Loiseau v. Dept. of Human Resources, 558 F Supp 521 (1983)

Where police of­fi­cer pursued plaintiff in marked police car with lights and siren activated in area defendant was assigned to patrol, with no known motive other than to fulfill duty as police of­fi­cer, trial court was correct in concluding that defendant was acting in course and scope of employ­ment, despite plaintiff's claim that defendant's acts were excessive. Brungardt v. Barton, 69 Or App 440, 685 P2d 1021 (1984)

Plaintiff in 42 U.S.C. 1983 ac­tion brought under the Oregon Tort Claims Act against municipality for ac­tions of its employes need not show that employes acted according to "custom or usage" as in federal §1983 ac­tion. Haase v. City of Eugene, 85 Or App 107, 735 P2d 1258 (1987)

Limita­tions of Oregon Tort Claims Act do not apply to claims brought in state court alleging viola­tion of federal Civil Rights Act. Rogers v. Saylor, 306 Or 267, 760 P2d 232 (1988)

Mayor was immune from liability in tort claim under this sec­tion where former chief of police brought tort ac­tion in connec­tion with her removal from office. Harrington v. City of Portland, 708 F Supp 1561 (D. Or. 1988)

Where plaintiffs brought ac­tion under 42 U.S.C 1983 and this sec­tion after defendant Children's Services Division employees removed plaintiff's child from home following reports of abuse, defendants are entitled to absolute immunity under this sec­tion for their discre­tionary acts as provided by ORS 30.265 (Scope of liability of public body, officers, employees and agents) (3). Tennyson v. Children's Services Division, 308 Or 80, 775 P2d 1365 (1989)

There is no legislative purpose to extend defini­tion of "agent" to control to include ostensible agent when doctrine of apparent authority is intended to achieve different purpose. Giese v. Bay Area Health District, 101 Or App 410, 790 P2d 1198 (1990), Sup Ct review denied

Because there was evidence that resident was not hospital's agent in first place, fact that "loaned servant" doctrine does not eliminate agency rela­tionship between hospital and employee who assists physician in surgery did not give plaintiff grounds for di­rected verdict. Shepard v. Sisters of Providence, 102 Or App 196, 793 P2d 1384 (1990)

Completed Cita­tions

State Forester v. Umpqua R. Nav. Co., 258 Or 10, 478 P2d 631 (1970), cert. denied, 404 US 826 (1971)

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Liability of members of the State Water Resources Board for damages of party adversely affected by reclassifica­tion, (1972) Vol 36, p 250; faculty members scope of employ­ment, (1975) Vol 37, p 911; state liability for neg­li­gent opera­tion by drivers of state-owned vehicles in authorized car pool, (1978) Vol 39, p 101; State Accident Insurance Fund Corpora­tion as public body, (1980) Vol 40, p 344; Use of Liability Fund balances to pay cost of claims for which date of loss precedes authorized imple­menta­tion date of state self-insurance program, (1981) Vol 41, p 329; Depart­ment of Veterans Affairs fee appraisers and inspectors as agents of state for purposes of tort liability, (1981) Vol 42, p 103; CPAs and PAs volunteering services to investigate and review complaints against accountancy licensees as employes or agents of public body, (1983) Vol 43, p 145; Cause of ac­tion under Oregon Tort Claims Act for declarative or injunctive relief or for viola­tion of federal statute,

(1985) Vol. 44, p 416; Oregon Medical Insurance Pool, board, members, employes and agents immune from tort claims, (1989) Vol 46, p 155; director and other state employes are covered by Oregon Tort Claims Act, (1989) Vol 46, p 155; various per­sons have immunity from pros­e­cu­­tion for crim­i­nal acts committed in carrying out pool programs, (1989) Vol 46, p 155

Law Review Cita­tions

53 OLR 371 (1974); 23 WLR 493, 507 (1987); 69 OLR 157 (1990); 38 WLR 657 (2002); 50 WLR 619 (2014)


1 Legislative Counsel Committee, CHAPTER 30—Actions and Suits in Particular Cases, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ors030.­html (2015) (last ac­cessed Jul. 16, 2016).
 
2 Legislative Counsel Committee, Annotations to the Oregon Revised Stat­utes, Cumulative Supplement - 2015, Chapter 30, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ano030.­html (2015) (last ac­cessed Jul. 16, 2016).
 
3 OregonLaws.org assembles these lists by analyzing references between Sections. Each listed item refers back to the current Section in its own text. The result reveals relationships in the code that may not have otherwise been apparent.