Oregon Appellate Update: Oregon Supreme Court Grants Review in Two Important Cases – Tort Cap and Dram Shop
From the Desk of Jeff Eberhard: On November 1, 2017, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued two separate decisions, both of which have a significant impact on the insurance industry and defense of claims. Recently, the Oregon Supreme Court issued orders accepting review of the Oregon Court of Appeals’ decisions in both cases. Read on to learn more about each of these two cases.
Noneconomic Damages Tort Cap of $500,000
Vasquez v. Double Press Mfg., 288 Or App 503 (2017).
In this case, the Oregon Court of Appeals held that ORS 31.710(1), which provides a $500,000 noneconomic damages cap in bodily injury claims, violates the remedy clause in Article I, section 10 of the Oregon Constitution. [See our prior Case Update on Vasquez here]. In that case, after considering comparative fault, the plaintiff was awarded $6,199,090, composed of $1,339,090 in economic damages and $4,860,000 in non-economic damages. The court determined that applying the $500,000 noneconomic damages cap would render plaintiff with a “paltry fraction” of the damages he sustained and a remedy that that is not “substantial,” even though plaintiff was set to recover $1,839,090 of the total $6,199,090 judgment. Following the court’s ruling, the defendants along with amicus filed a petition for review with the Oregon Supreme Court. On March 22, 2018, the Oregon Supreme Court accepted review of the Oregon Court of Appeals’ decision and is set to hear oral arguments on September 14, 2018.
Dram Shop – Claims by Intoxicated Patron
Schutz v. La Costita III, Inc., 288 Or App 476 (2017).
In this case, the Oregon Court of Appeals held that ORS 471.565(1), which prevents a plaintiff who voluntarily consumed alcohol from bringing a claim against the alcohol provider, violates the remedy clause in Article I, section 10 of the Oregon Constitution. [See our prior Case Update on Schutz here]. The defendants in that case filed a petition for review with the Oregon Supreme Court. Our law firm filed an amicus curiae petition for review in support of the defendants, where we discussed our expertise in Oregon liquor liability law and why we believe the Oregon Court of Appeals erred in its decision. On April 19, 2018, the Oregon Supreme Court entered an order allowing review of the Oregon Court of Appeals’ decision, and setting oral arguments for November 1, 2018.
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