Author Archives: youngwalgenkim

Important Vehicle Title Bill Signed into Law

By: Young Walgenkim

On July 15, 2019, Governor Brown signed into law a bill that will greatly benefit consumers in Oregon. SB 113 is a bill intended to help Oregonians get title to the vehicles they purchased from car dealers. Yes, you read that correctly. Currently, Oregonians are purchasing vehicles from dealers and they are not receiving titles to the vehicles they purchased.

How does this happen?

In Oregon, when a dealer sells a vehicle to a consumer, the dealer typically does not have the title because the dealer purchased the vehicle on credit. After the sale to the consumer, the dealer is required to take the proceeds from the sale, pay off the lien on the vehicle to receive title, and submit the title transfer documents to the DMV all within 30 days of the sale.[1] However, dealers often fail to pay off the vehicle or otherwise transfer the title within the deadline dictated by the vehicle code. Sometimes, if the dealer goes out of business or is otherwise running a scam, consumers never receive their title. Some examples from the past news include Northwest RV Sales in Salem and Jones 5 Auto Sales in Corvallis.

Yes, but is this really a problem in Oregon?

Oregon DMV regulates vehicle dealers for violations of the vehicle code, which includes many different aspects of the dealer’s business. In its quarterly periodical, the DMV publishes a list of dealers who have been sanctioned for violations of the vehicle code, which can be accessed online. Tracking the data back to 2011, there have been an average of about 750 dealer sanctions per year, and about half of those are due to failure to process title on time. This is clearly a serious problem, and there are real victims to this practice. Several individuals came forward to testify at legislative hearings in 2017 as victims of this practice. One woman testified that she purchased a car, paid the entire amount but did not receive her title for two years.

But why can’t the DMV issue new title?

When these consumers find out that the dealer will not help them, the first thing they do is to contact the DMV. The victims at the hearing all testified that they called the DMV and asked them to issue new titles. They were all told that DMV could not do that and they need to hire an attorney to file an action in court to receive a court order before a new title would be issued. This means the consumer will have to pay out of pocket to hire an attorney to get them the title to the vehicle they already paid for. Clearly, something is not right with this situation.

How does SB 113 help?

SB 113 bridges this gap by allowing the victims to receive their attorney fees from the dealer or the dealer’s bond. The dealer had a duty to process the title, and its failure to process the title is already a violation of Oregon’s vehicle code. The consumer currently has a private right of action to get their remedy in court, but they rarely do so because they often don’t have the money to hire an attorney to get the title for the vehicle they already paid for. With the enactment of SB 113, Oregonians can finally receive title to the vehicles they purchased.

[1] If the dealer cannot meet the 30 day deadline, it can request an extension up to 90 days.

Attorney General Lunch and Presentation of the Section’s Award of Merit

by: Matthew Kirkpatrick

On July 16, 2019, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum hosted Consumer Law Section members for a lunch and discussion of consumer law issues.  Many Section members joined Department of Justice attorneys and law clerks to share their areas of practice and DOJ’s consumer protection activities.  Attorney General Rosenblum and Kelly Harpster—Attorney in Charge of DOJ’s Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection Section (and a former Chair of the Consumer Law Section)— highlighted some of the DOJ’s efforts over the past year to stop fraudulent business activities in Oregon and recover consumer losses.  DOJ activities include litigation and settlements or judgments in cases against predatory and deceptive student lenders, violators of data privacy laws, an auto manufacturer that violated environmental regulations, a deceptive car dealership, and consumer finance and health care litigation.  It also has ongoing litigation against Purdue Pharma for deceptively promoting OxyContin.  Several of the DOJ’s recent cases are highlighted in an August 11, 2019 website post, available at https://consumerlaw.osbar.org/2019/08/11/oregon-doj-consumer-protection-section-settlement-and-litigation-highlights/.  Additional information about the DOJ’s consumer protection activities, including the Consumer Hotline and the searchable consumer Complaints Database, can be found on the DOJ’s website at https://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer-protection.

During the lunch, Attorney General Rosenblum presented Section member David Sugerman with the inaugural Consumer Law Section Award of Merit.  The Award of Merit recognizes Sugerman’s more than three decades working to help low-income consumers in Oregon.  Sugerman was lead counsel in prosecuting and winning a $409 million consumer fraud class action case against BP for illegal debit card charges to consumers, an $85 million federal court win for Oregon veterans poisoned in Iraq by defense contractor KBR, and a multi-million-dollar settlement against Comcast for illegally charging cable TV late fees, among many other high-impact cases.  The cy pres provisions of the BP settlement will provide $33 million to Legal Aid Services of Oregon and an additional $33 million to establish a new non-profit dedicated to furthering consumer protection in Oregon.  Sugerman also serves on the Board of Directors of Public Justice, and is active with the ACLU and National Association of Consumer Advocates.  He received the Oregon State Bar President’s Award in 2008 and was admitted to the American Board of Trial Advocates in 2011.

Fittingly, after more than seven and a half years of litigation, trial, and appeals in the Scharfstein v. BP case, settlement funds were received and the cy pres trusts funded on July 16, 2019, the same day Sugerman received the Section’s Award of Merit.  Congratulations David and thank you for all of your efforts on behalf of Oregon consumers.

The Oregon State Bar Consumer Law Section also would once again like to thank the Attorney General and Department of Justice for hosting this year’s lunch and for their ongoing work to promote justice for consumers in Oregon.

For Cause Terminations, Rent Control, and Sealing Eviction records: New Oregon Tenant Protections

By: April Kusters

The 2019 Oregon Legislature enacted new protections for a large subset of consumers: tenants. These new tenant protections, including SB 608, modify the information in this website’s August 2018 posting “Residential Rental Markets and Portland’s Relocations Assistance Program.” Like many areas of law, it is important to review the legislative session each year for any statutory changes or additions that may make old postings incomplete or outdated. By this time next year, this posting may well be missing pertinent information. Be advised.

For example,, the Portland Relocation Ordinance[i] references in the August 2018 posting remain accurate, however, Oregon’s no cause termination statute has changed and there is now statewide rent control.

No Cause Evictions versus For Cause Evictions: Historically, landlords had broad authority in most tenancies to terminate the tenancy without providing a stated reason or cause so long as the landlord gave proper notice. Under SB 608[ii], which became effective February 28, 2019, if a tenant has occupied their rental housing for one year or more, the landlord may only terminate the tenancy for an approved reason and the termination notice must state the cause for the termination. If the reason for the termination of the tenancy is not due to the conduct of the tenant, for example if the landlord intends to remodel or sell to a buyer who intends to reside in the home, then the landlord must give 90 days notice of termination of the tenancy to the tenant. In addition, if the landlord owns 4 or more units and the cause of the termination is not due to the tenant’s conduct, the landlord must pay relocation assistance in the amount of one month’s rent. If the tenant has occupied the rental unit for less than 1 year, or the landlord is both a roommate and landlord to the tenant, these protections do not apply.

Rent Control: Also under SB 608, during any 12-month period, landlords may not increase the rent more than 7% plus that year’s consumer price index. As an example, for 2019, this combined percentage is 10.3%. Landlords are not subject to this rent increase limitation if the first certificate of occupancy for the unit was issued less than 15 years before the rent increase or if the landlord is providing the until to a tenant as part of any affordable housing program or subsidy.

Sealing FED (Eviction) Records: Of special note to FCRA practitioners and others viewing credit reports, consumers with an Oregon residential eviction on their credit history or background checks records may have the ability to seal those eviction records starting January 1, 2020. Under SB 873[iii], a consumer may move the court to set aside the judgment and seal the official record under the following circumstances:

  • The judgment included restitution, the money award has been satisfied and at least 5 years have passed from date of entry of judgment;
  • The judgment was made by stipulation of the parties under ORS 105.145 and the consumer/tenant complied with the terms of the agreement and satisfied any money judgment; or
  • The judgment was a judgment of dismissal in the tenant’s favor.

Additionally, the court is not allowed to charge a filing fee for the Motion to Set Aside/Seal. Many FED or eviction actions settle at the time of the first appearance.  As such, many evictions should be eligible under the bill beginning January 1, 2020.

These new tenant protections are complicated and nuanced. Thankfully the City of Portland has a Rental Services Office[iv] that runs a help line for tenants and landlords and the Oregon State Bar has a downloadable pamphlet[v] and Legal Q & A Videos[vi] on this topic.

[i] Portland City Code § 30.01.085

[ii] Senate Bill 608

[iii] Senate Bill 873 § 2(4)

[iv]City of Portland Rental Services Office

[v] “New Rules for Landlords”

[vi] “An Update to Landlord/Tenant Law in Oregon”