On November 1, 2017, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Vasquez v. Double Press Mfg. Plaintiff had been rendered paraplegic as a result of an industrial accident. A jury returned a verdict in excess of $10,000,000, which after reduction for plaintiff’s comparative fault, resulted in an award of $6,199,090, of which $4,860,000 was for non-economic damages. The trial court refused to apply the $500,000 non-economic damages cap in ORS 31.710(1). The Court of Appeals, issuing one of its first decisions interpreting Horton v. OHSU, 359 Or 168 (2016), affirmed the trial court.
The Court of Appeals found that ORS 31.710(1) was not facially unconstitutional. The Court instead held that it was necessary to approach the damages cap on a case-by-case basis to determine whether application of the cap would “leave plaintiff with a remedy that is only a ‘paltry fraction’ of the damages that he sustained and would otherwise recover.” The Court made note of the seriousness of this plaintiff’s injuries and also discussed that there was not an “identifiable quid pro quo” provided by the cap. The Court concluded that the cap, as applied to this jury award, violated the remedy clause of the Oregon Constitution.