Vasquez v. Double Press Mfg., Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Remedies
  • Date Filed: 11-01-2017
  • Case #: A154774
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Armstrong, P.J. for the Court; Hadlock, C.J.; & Egan, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Horton v. OHSU, for a statutorily substituted remedy under ORS 31.710(1) to be “substantial” as required by the remedy clause in Article I, section 10 of the Oregon Constitution, the remedy need not restore all damages that the plaintiff sustained to pass constitutional muster; however, a remedy that is only a “paltry fraction” of the damages the plaintiff sustained will unlikely be sufficient.

Double Press Manufacturing, Inc. (Defendant) sought reconsideration of the Court of Appeals’ 2016 decision concluding the application of the ORS 31.710(1) cap on non-economic damages would violate Vazquez’s (Plaintiff) Article I, section 17 right to a jury-trial.  Because the Supreme Court, in Horton v. OHSU, 359 Or 168 (2016), overruled the case on which the Court of Appeals based its original decision the day after the original opinion was issued, the Court of Appeals allowed reconsideration.  On reconsideration, Plaintiff argued the Court should affirm its original disposition under the “right for the wrong reason” principle, asserting the non-economic damages cap in ORS 31.710(1), as applied, was invalid under the remedy clause of Article I, section 10 of the Oregon Constitution because the cap left with an unconstitutionally insubstantial remedy.  Under Horton, for a statutorily substituted remedy under ORS 31.710(1) to be “substantial” as required by Article I, section 10, it need not restore all damages that the Plaintiff sustained to pass constitutional muster; however, a remedy that is only a “paltry fraction” of the damages the plaintiff sustained will unlikely be sufficient. The Court of Appeals concluded the cap on noneconomic damages would leave the grievously-injured plaintiff with “paltry fraction” of the damages he sustained because the cap would result his receiving only $1.9 Million out of the $6.2 Million he would receive without the cap.  Therefore, the Court concluded the application of ORS 31.710(1) to plaintiff’s jury award violated the remedy clause.  Reconsideration allowed; former opinion withdrawn; affirmed. 

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