Rains v. Stayton Builders Mart, Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Remedies
  • Date Filed: 01-04-2018
  • Case #: A145916A
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J. for the Court; Egan, C.J.; & Garrett, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

“When the legislature does not limit the duty that a defendant owes a plaintiff but does limit the size or nature of the remedy, the legislative remedy need not restore all the damages that the plaintiff sustained to pass constitutional muster, . . . but a remedy that is only a parlty fraction of the damages that the plaintiff sustained will unlikely be sufficient.” Quid pro quo and other factors could be used to help in the determination. Horton v. OHSU, 359 Or 168, 220-21,376 P3d 998 (2016).

On remand, plaintiff contended that ORS 31.710(1) is facially unconstitutional under the remedy clause of Article I, section 10. Plaintiff argued that the limitation on non economic damages fails to account for the underlying injury and does not provide a quid pro quo remedy. Defendant argued Plaintiffs’ argument is precluded under the law of the case doctrine and the waiver rule because it is raised for this first time on remand. Defendant argued in the alternative that ORS 31.710(1) is constitutional because the plaintiff is still entitled to a substantial remedy. “When the legislature does not limit the duty that a defendant owes a plaintiff but does limit the size or nature of the remedy, the legislative remedy need not restore all the damages that the plaintiff sustained to pass constitutional muster, . . . but a remedy that is only a parlty fraction of the damages that the plaintiff sustained will unlikely be sufficient.” Quid pro quo and other factors could be used to help in the determination. Horton v. OHSU, 359 Or 168, 220-21,376 P3d 998 (2016). The Court of Appeals rejected Defendant’s law of the case doctrine and waiver rule arguments because considering this appeal would not harm the interest of judicial efficiency. The Court held that the cap on non-economic damages under ORS 31.710(1), is a “paltry fraction” of Plaintiff’s original award and violates the remedy clause in Article 1, section 10 because the limitation does not take his injury into account nor does it provide a substantial remedy to his injury. Partial reversal of limited judgment (Stayton Builders Mart), general judgment reversed, and affirmation of plaintiff’s limited judgment.

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