Oregon Senate Approves Bill to Increase State and Local Government Agencies’ Liability Lawsuit Limits

The Oregon Senate passed Senate Bill 311 this week to increase the liability lawsuit limits that a government agency can be made to pay plaintiffs. Whereas the old limits, set in 1987, placed a cap of $100,000 on noneconomic and economic damages, $50,000 for property damage, and $500,000 for all claims from one incident, the new bill proposes raising the state government’s liability lawsuit limit maximums to $1.5 million for one claim and $3 million for all claims stemming from a single incident. The distinctions between the damages would be eliminated, and the Oregon Supreme Court would deal with any challenges to the new limits.

Caps would increase $100,000 a over a five-year period. After 2015, amounts would be indexed according to inflation. All other governments in Oregon would have caps that are one-third of the state’s caps. Individual workers would also be covered against civil claims for accidents that occur while he or she is on the job. The bill now goes to the House.

In 2007, the family of young Jordan Michael Clarke sued Oregon Health & Science University and seven of its employees for medical malpractice after he suffered permanent brain damage following surgery to repair a congenital heart defect. Using the state’s liability shield, however, OHSU replaced the individual defendants named in the complaint with itself to limit liability at $200,000.

While the Oregon State Supreme Court ruled that OHSU was legally entitled to do this, it also found that the existing government caps were too low that they prevented the boy’s family from receiving an appropriate legal remedy for his injuries. A $9.3 million personal injury settlement was eventually reached between OHSU and Clarke’s family.

Senate approves increase in liability lawsuit limits, Statesman Journal, February 24, 2009
Oregon may welcome higher lawsuit caps, SeattlePI.com, February 12, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Oregon Health and Science University

General information about the Oregon Tort Claims Act, OHSU.edu


In Oregon, Portland Injury Attorney Matthew Kaplan represents adults and the families of children with personal injury and wrongful death claims against the Oregon government, different kinds of entities, and individuals. He is experienced in dealing with all kinds of Oregon injury cases, including those involving car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, injuries to children, catastrophic injuries, dog bites, medical malpractice, and premises liability. Contact Matthew D Kaplan, Attorney at Law, today.