Johnson v. GibsonAnnotate this Case
The United States Court of Appeals certified two questions of Oregon law to the Oregon Supreme Court. This case arose when plaintiff, who was legally blind, was injured when she stepped into a hole while jogging in a public park in the City of Portland (the City). Plaintiff filed a complaint against the City and defendants Gibson and Stillson. Defendant Gibson had created the hole to fix a malfunctioning sprinkler head; he was a park technician with primary responsibility for maintenance of the park. Defendant Stillson was the maintenance supervisor for all westside parks in the City. As framed by the Ninth Circuit, the questions were: (1) whether individual employees responsible for repairing, maintaining, and operating improvements on City-owned recreational land made available to the public for recreational purposes are “owner[s]” of the land, as defined in the Oregon Public Use of Lands Act, and therefore immune from liability for their negligence; and (2) if such employees are “owner[s]” under the Act, whether the Act, as applied to them, violated the remedy clause of Article I, section 10, of the Oregon Constitution. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded that the individual employees in this case did not qualify as “owner[s]” under the Act, and that the Court need not address the second certified question.