ORS 31.710 creates a $500,000 limit on non-economic, or “general,” damages in certain types of actions. The viability of this “cap” has been called into question by recent Oregon Supreme Court interpretations of specific provisions of the Oregon Constitution. There was a renewed effort to eliminate the cap entirely in the current legislative session. Oregon House Bill 2014 would have eliminated the cap on personal injury cases (excluding wrongful death cases and cases involving third-party claims in workers’ compensation injuries) against private sector defendants, a bill which would have had retroactive effect. On March 25, 2019, that bill made it past the Oregon House. The Oregon Senate offered a revised version which would have adjusted the cap to $1.5 million while also putting a mechanism in place for future adjustments related to the consumer price index. The Senate version wouldn’t have had retroactive effect. On June 4, 2019, the House bill was defeated in the Senate. For now, the cap on non-economic losses remains in place in Oregon, subject to arguments against its application on constitutional grounds that arise from recent case law.
If you have questions on this topic, Preg, O’Donnell & Gillett’s Oregon licensed attorneys would be happy to discuss the nuances of this issue.