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?

While I do not particularly recommend a lab for food testing, I am aware of a lab called Purity Laboratories  in Lake Oswego, 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 as the information herein is for general information purposes only and not customized to your particular set of circumstances.  Call (503) 238-1010.

Generally there is a two year statute of limitations from when the defective product was discovered or should have been reasonably discovered.  See ORS 30.905(1).  However, there are multiple circumstances in which the statute of limitations may be longer or shorter.   For instance, the filing must also be within any applicable statute of ultimate repose under ORS 30.905(2), usually 10 years from purchase for consumption.  Your statute of limitations may also be limited by statute of limitations in other states or countries where the product was manufactured.

If your claim involves a governmental agency, you must have tort claim notice filed within 1 year for a wrongful death and 180 days for all other cases under ORS 30.275.

Note:  Information on the website is not always updated in a timely manner regarding current law.