Deal with trial lawyers could raise Oregon's liability cap 650 percent

Chris Rizo Sep. 12, 2008, 2:24pm

Ted Kulongoski (D)

SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline)-Anyone injured in Oregon as a result of government negligence would be able to sue for 650 percent more than they can currently, under a plan reached between the Oregon Health & Science University and the state's trial lawyers.

The plan calls for the state to raise the current liability cap of $200,000 to $1.5 million, and eliminate the $100,000 cap on intangible harms, including extreme pain.

The new per-claim limit of $1.5 million would take effect July 1, 2009, and increase by $100,000 a year for five years to $2 million. The plan calls for a cap on incidents involving multiple claimants at $3 million and increase by $200,000 a year for five years to $4 million.

After the five-year period, the limits would increase four percent

State lawmakers will consider the change next year if the plan clears Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski's office, the legislative leaders.

Kulongoski said in a statement that the proposal will "ease the tough decision-making" as parties "seek the appropriate balance between protecting taxpayers' money and compensating victims of negligence."

The Oregon Supreme Court effectively rejected the liability cap in 2007 when it agreed with a 2006 Oregon Court of Appeals ruling that allowed the family of a brain-damaged child to sue OHSU for more than $17 million in connection with injuries the child suffered at the hospital as a three-month-old baby.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at

More News