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Herring v. American Medical Response Northwest

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 02-21-2013
Case #: A144168
Schuman, P.J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; and Nakamoto J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A144168.pdf

Remedies: "Vulnerable person" under ORS 124.100 includes a temporary incapacitated person. ORS 124.100(2)(b) unambiguously requires the court to triple noneconomic damages resulting from physical abuse.

AMR appealed the trial court's decision granting Herring heightened noneconomic damages and attorney fees. Herring was awarded $500,000 in noneconomic damages resulting from a suit against American Medical Response Northwest (AMR) for permitting abuse of a vulnerable person under ORS 124.100. The trial court tripled that award pursuant to ORS 124.100(2)(b), awarding Herring $1,500,000 in noneconomic damages. AMR appealed the award, arguing that Herring was not a “vulnerable person” and that the trial court erred in tripling her damages. At trial, Herring proved she was touched in a sexual manner without consent by an AMR paramedic during transport to a hospital. In concluding that Herring was a “vulnerable person,” the Court of Appeals found that Herring was temporarily incapacitated and therefore a “vulnerable person” because she did not have the capacity to protect herself from abuse at the time it was being inflicted. Additionally, the Court of Appeals held that the language of ORS 124.100(2)(b) unambiguously required the trial court to triple Herring’s noneconomic damages because of physical abuse and that it was not in fact a noneconomic damage award. Affirmed.