Oregon Case Law Update: Court of Appeals Reaffirms Position on Noneconomic Damages

Jeff Eberhard Managing Partner

Oregon Case Law Update: Court of Appeals Reaffirms Position on Noneconomic Damages

From the Desk of Jeff Eberhard: If the jury awards plaintiff $10,500,000 in noneconomic damages, will the court find that applying the statutory $500,000 noneconomic damages cap violates the remedy clause of the Oregon Constitution? For now, the answer is yes. Read on to find out why that answer may change.

Claims Pointer: Because the Oregon Court of Appeals found that to ORS 31.710(1) violated the remedy clause in Vasquez and Rains, the Court of Appeals’ ruling, in this case, was somewhat expected.  It is likely that in the meantime, the Court of Appeals will continue to invalidate the statutory cap on noneconomic damages.  As such, the next opportunity for clarification will come from the Oregon Supreme Court, which could take over a year to render a decision.  The Oregon Supreme Court has accepted a petition for review of the Vasquez decision.  The petitioners and respondents in Vasquez have filed their respective briefs on the merits, and six parties filed amicus curiae briefs.  Petitioners will have until August 2, 2018 to file a reply brief, unless extensions are provided, and the Oregon Supreme Court is set to hear oral argument on September 14, 2018.

Busch v. McInnis Waste Systems, Inc. 292 Or App 820 (2018).

Plaintiff Scott Busch (“Plaintiff”) was crossing the street on his way to work when he was struck by a garbage truck owned by Defendant McInnis Waste Systems, Inc. (“Defendant”).  Plaintiff suffered severe injuries, leading to the amputation of his leg above the knee.  Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant.  Defendant admitted liability and the case proceeded to trial on the issue of damages.  At trial, the jury found that Plaintiff was entitled to $3,021,922 in economic damages and $10,500,000 in noneconomic damages.  Defendant moved to reduce the noneconomic damages award to $500,000, pursuant to 31.710(1).  The trial court awarded the motion...

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