Oregon Case Law Update: $500,000 Non-Economic Damages Cap; the Slippery Slope Just Got Slippier

Attorney Profile Case Update Template-JDE Matt Ukishima

Oregon Case Law Update: $500,000 Non-Economic Damages Cap; the Slippery Slope Just Got Slippier

From the desk of Jeff Eberhard and Matt UkishimaA few months ago, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a decision in Vasquez v. Double Press Mfg., Inc., 288 Or App (2017), holding that applying the $500,000 noneconomic damages cap to plaintiff’s $4,860,000 noneconomic damages award would render the plaintiff with a remedy that was not substantial, and as a result, violates the remedy clause of Article I, section 10 of the Oregon Constitution. [See our prior Case Update on Vasquez here].  In this case, the Oregon Court of Appeals considers whether the noneconomic damages cap violates the remedy clause if applied to the husband’s $2,343,750 noneconomic damages award and to the wife’s $759,375 noneconomic damages award.  Read on for a discussion on the court’s analysis and the future of the statutory cap on noneconomic damages.

Claims Pointer: In this case arising out of a plaintiff who was rendered paraplegic after a job site accident, the Oregon Court of Appeals purports to rely on Vasquez, holding that application of the $500,000 noneconomic damages cap to the husband’s $2,343,750 noneconomic damages award leaves the husband with a remedy that is not substantial.  The court also holds that applying the noneconomic damages cap to the wife’s $759,375 noneconomic damages award leaves the wife with a remedy that is not substantial, despite the fact that the wife stood to recover more than 65 percent of her noneconomic damages award. We expect this opinion to be reviewed by the Oregon Supreme Court and the 2019 session of the Oregon legislature.

Rains v. Stayton Builders Mart, Inc. 289 Or App 672 (2018)

Plaintiff Kevin Rains (“Kevin”) was rendered paraplegic after a defective board of wood broke at his job site, causing him to fall almost 16 feet.  He brought a products liability suit against the retailer and manufacturer of the defective board...

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