There once was a liability cap in Oregon of $200,000 for public agencies,
including the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU). The cap was increased
last year to $1.5 million. Caught in the middle of the liability cap reform
was Ken Ackerman, a former television host and current realtor, who had
sued neurosurgeon Dr. Alex West of OHSU for negligence after a 2003 surgery
caused permanent damage.
Ackerman won his lawsuit in 2006, but the amount of his award was in question–did
it fall under the old liability cap of $200,000 or the new cap? The jury
awarded Ackerman more than $1.4 million, $1 million in noneconomic damages
and another $412,000 for economic losses. His lawsuit had asked for $5
million in damages.
This week the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the ruling, stating that Dr.
West was not protected by the previous liability cap, and determined that
Ackerman is eligible for more than $1.4 million in damages. OHSU plans
to appeal the decision.