The Oregon Constitution currently acts to prohibit limitations on awards of noneconomic damages in many types of civil actions.
Ballot Measure 35 would amend the Oregon Constitution to impose a limit on noneconomic damages that may be claimed in certain actions. The measure applies to claims made by injured patients and legal representatives of injured patients, including persons claiming loss of consortium (the loss of the company, affection, assistance and sexual relations of a spouse). The limitation applies only to claims made by such persons against healthcare providers and healthcare entities licensed in Oregon, for injuries incurred while the provider or entity was acting within the scope of the license. The limitation applies to claims based on negligence or recklessness, but does not apply to claims based on intentional injury. Nor does it limit claims for wrongful death.
If a claim is subject to Ballot Measure 35, the measure would impose a limitation of $500,000 (adjusted annually for inflation) on the amount that can be claimed as noneconomic damages arising from injury to any one patient that may be recoverable from health care providers or entities. Noneconomic damages are defined as all subjective nonmonetary losses suffered by an injured patient, including but not limited to pain, mental suffering, emotional distress, loss of care, comfort, companionship and society, loss of consortium, inconvenience and interference with the normal and usual activities apart from gainful employment.
Ballot Measure 35 does not limit the recovery of economic damages, defined by the measure to be all objectively verifiable monetary losses including but not limited to reasonable charges necessarily incurred for medical, hospital, nursing and rehabilitative services and other health care services, burial and memorial expenses, loss of income and past and future impairment of earning capacity, reasonable and necessary expenses incurred for substitute domestic services, recurring loss to an estate and damage to reputation that is economically verifiable.
Ballot Measure 35 provides for adjustment in the amount of the limitation based on changes in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers Not Seasonally Adjusted in the West Urban area, as published by the United States Department of Labor. The State Court Administrator is charged with determining the amount of the limitation each year under the formula provided in the measure.
Ballot Measure 35 does not require implementing legislation and applies to all actions filed on or after January 1, 2005.
Committee Members / Appointed by:
Jim Dorigan / Chief Petitioners
Paul Frisch / Chief Petitioners
Steve Berman / Secretary of State
Steve Novick / Secretary of State
Jacob Tanzer / Members of the Committee
(This committee was appointed to provide an impartial explanation of the ballot measure pursuant to ORS 251.215.)