Defendant Dies During Litigation

A defendant may pass away after a complaint is filed. If there is no probate otherwise opened, the plaintiff may need to petition the probate court to open an estate for the deceased defendant to allow the case to continue. We recently created an estate proceeding for a deceased defendant while we represented a local bicyclist, who was an active member of Oregon’s volunteer community. The bicyclist was professionally dressed and was commuting to the Center for Appropriate Transport. An aggressive driver drove up behind the bicyclist and yelled obscenities at him, which a nearby witness overheard. Then, the aggressive driver ran the bicyclist off the road, causing him to suffer head, shoulder, hip, and knee injuries. We filed a complaint against the at-fault driver. The driver passed away from unrelated causes during the litigation and, to continue the case, we set up an estate for the driver through the probate court. We later settled the case for a fair amount at a judicial settlement conference.

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