Product Liability

Product Liability / Defect Cases in the State of Oregon by Jennie L. Clark, Attorney at Law


  • If someone bites into her/his restaurant or pre-packaged dinner and breaks her/his tooth on a piece of glass, metal or some other foreign object then we just might have a case.
  • We can settle the case or file a lawsuit based upon a theory of negligence.  Sometimes you don’t know what is in your food and I recommend that you carefully preserve the evidence and send the evidence to an independent lab if necessary.
  • Consult with me regarding the best way to preserve the evidence.  Of course, I would also need copies of your dental records to show that your dental work was not a result of mere tooth decay.


  • Commonly I receive phone calls where someone complains that they found a foreign object, such as a hair, in their food or other products.
  • While the situation is most certainly disgusting, it does not rise to the level of a lawsuit, unless one can prove that he/she was actually injured or caused to become ill due to the foreign object.
  • Since finding a hair in one’s food generally cannot be proven to cause illness or injury, there is no case because there are no provable damages.
  • Emotional distress in this kind of case is not enough to give rise to a lawsuit.


  • Unfortunately, Oregon courts have ruled that if the object in the food is something that is indigenous to the food, that you should be on notice of the risks and you cannot sue.
  • A lot of times people will find a beef bone in hamburger or a fishbone in their fish sticks or a cherry pit in their canned cherries.
  • Under Oregon law, you have no case.


  • Of course, there are other types of product liability cases.
  • Let’s say that you are brushing your teeth with your electric toothbrush and it explodes and causes you injury that requires medical attention.
  • In such a situation, I would want the name and contact information of the manufacturer and a receipt from the store, if possible, of where you purchased the product.
  • I would also want any packaging or warning labels that were sold with the product.
  • You would likely have a product  liability case in such a situation, if you were using the product as instructed and especially if you were not warned.
  • In some cases, we would need an expert to show why the product was poorly designed.

Which Lab do I recommend for food testing?

I do not particularly recommend a lab for food testing.

However, I am aware of a lab called Food Quality Labs, Inc. at in Portland, Oregon.

I recommend any qualified independent lab that is near where you live.

What is the statute of limitations on a Product Liability Case?

Seek legal advice sooner rather than later for specific advice regarding your particular set of circumstances!

Use me for a fee 10 minute consultation and if you don’t like what I have to say, seek a second opinion.  Generally there is a two year statute of limitations for product liability case.

However, there is a limited exception under ORS 12.110.

If a defective product is not discovered for a long period of time, then it is two years from the date of discovery or when the defect should have been reasonably discovered.  The filing must also be within any applicable statute of ultimate repose under ORS 30.905(1), usually 8 years from purchase for consumption.

Certain cases such as Asbestos products liability actions and breast implants are specifically exempted from ORS 30.905(1).

Thus, it is important that this information is for general informational purposes and not meant to advise you regarding a specific case.

If your claim involves a governmental agency, you must have tort claim notice filed within 180 days under ORS 30.275.