Oregon Legislatively Authorized Limits on Damages in Civil Actions, Measure 81 (May 2000)

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The Oregon Legislatively Authorized Limits on Damages in Civil Actions Amendment, also known as Measure 81, was on the May 16, 2000 ballot in Oregon as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was defeated. The measure would have allowed the legislature to limit the recovery of damages in civil actions.[1]

Election results

Oregon Measure 81 (May 2000)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No650,34874.8%
Yes 219,009 25.2%

Election results via: Oregon Blue Book

Ballot title

HJR 2 - Amends Constitution: Allows Legislature To Limit Recovery Of Damages In Civil Actions[2]

Support

[3] Supporters argued that the measure would protect against lawsuit abuse, preventing someone from suing for millions of dollars over a minor offense.

Police and Firefighters' associations in Oregon rallied around the measure, sumbitting a letter of support to the Secretary of State. In the letter they said:

"Over the past three decades, laws have been passed that allow Oregon's working public safety employees to do our jobs without the threat of unlimited lawsuits. When we're on the scene helping people, we know that we can only be held personally liable if we are found to be reckless or negligent. That's fair to us and that's fair to all Oregonians that we serve and protect.
Unless voters pass Measure 81, all existing restraints on damage awards could be eliminated. And, we could be held personally liable. This would force us to pay unlimited financial awards out of our own pockets. A YES vote on Measure 81 will keep reasonable protections from unlimited, unfair and frivolous lawsuits for Oregon's public safety employees."

Many felt the measure would protect people simply doing their jobs and "good samaritans" helping the community without the fear of frivolous lawsuits. Many pointed out that without the passage of Measure 81, liability insurance would increase.

Some others in support of the measure were:

  • Oregon Association of Hospitals & Health Systems
  • Oregonians Against Lawsuit Abuse
  • Oregon Neighborhood Store Association
  • Oregon Restaurant Association
  • National Federation of Independent Business (Oregon Chapter)
  • Oregon Farm Bureau

Opposition

[4] Those opposed to the measure argued that it would take away basic rights to acheiving justice. Victims of crime and parents who's children had been victimized strongly opposed the measure.

However, Ralph Nader and The Oregon Consumer League pointed out that the measure is not just about those victims, aruging that the measure will negatively effect everyone:

"It will endanger your constitutional right to jury trial in civil cases, a right fundamental to our democracy. It will allow irresponsible corporations off the hook for the full damage they cause, eliminating their financial incentive to remove dangerous products and practices from the marketplace. It will prevent Oregonians from obtaining just compensation for injuries caused by negligent or reckless corporations."

Others against the measure were:

  • Oregon State Council of Senior Citizens
  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
  • President of Brain Injury Support Group of Portland
  • Alliance for Lung Cancer
  • Citizens for Corporate Accountability & Individual Rights

See also

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References


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