Suing for Punitive Damages in Portland

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Litigation Lawyers in Portland

In Portland, Oregon, civil litigation is not meant to punish wrongdoers, at least that is not its main purpose. Alternatively, it is designed to ensure that the victims of wrongdoing are given compensation for the harm they've suffered.

There is an exception to this basic rule, however: in certain cases, a court in Portland, Oregon will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is identified as "punitive damages."

Courts in Portland, Oregon do not authorize punitive damages in most cases. The civil litigation system is geared against authorizing financial windfalls to civil plaintiffs. But, there are rare cases, where the defendant has done something to the plaintiff that is so morally reprehensible, that society's interest in punishing the defendant and deterring comparable misconduct outweighs the civil justice system's preference against punitive damages.

Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Portland, Oregon

Typically personal injury cases in Portland, Oregon do not involve punitive damages, because the defendant did not intend to cause harm, or act with some other form of malice. Alternatively, most of these cases involve situations where the defendant acted carelessly, but did not actually intend to cause harm. This is enough to award compensatory damages, but it is far from sufficient to award punitive damages in Portland, Oregon.

In Portland, Oregon, punitive damages are only awarded in extreme cases. Civil wrongs such as fraud, conversion (theft), battery, and other intentional, depraved acts are sufficient to award punitive damages. In deciding whether or not to award punitive damages, and how much money to award, courts in Portland, Oregon will consider many different factors. Typically, they employ a sliding scale, weighing the nature of the conduct and the actual harm that the conduct caused. The more immoral the conduct, and/or the more harm caused, the more likely a court is to award punitive damages.

You should be cognizant of the fact that there are some pretty severe limits on punitive damages in Portland, Oregon. The U.S. Supreme Court has found that there are constitutional limits on punitive damage awards. Punitive damages can't be too disproportionate to the actual damages that the plaintiff has suffered. Appeals courts have found that excessive punitive damage awards violate the defendant's right to due process, by depriving them of considerable amounts of property.

A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in Portland, Oregon is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in Oregon have a good deal of discretion in awarding punitive damages, and will decide them based on the facts of each case. Because of this, punitive damage awards larger than 10 times compensatory damages are occasionally upheld, while much smaller awards have been overturned, because they were deemed excessive in a certain case.

How Can a Portland, Oregon Attorney Help?

Portland, Oregon's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Therefore, it is unrealistic to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.

If you are engaged in a case in Portland, Oregon where punitive damages are a possibility, a very large amount of money could be at stake, whether you are the plaintiff or defendant. You should not delay to speak with a civil litigation attorney in Portland, Oregon

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Life in Portland

Portland may be the 3rd most populous city in the Pacific Northwest but it's one of the most popular. Known as one of the greenest cities in the world, Portland has used city planning and public transportation to lessen residents' impact on their surrounding environment. In fact, Portland has been named the second most eco-friendly place behind Reykjavik, Iceland by Grist Magazine, and in top 10 greenest cities by Move, Inc.

P-town residents live among some of the most innovative microbreweries and distilleries. Widmer Brothers, Henry Weinhard, and Michael "Beerhunter" Jackson even dubbed Portland beer capital of the world. Portland Mayor Tom Potter nicknamed the city "Beertown."

Most people probably know Portland as the location of the Nike Headquarters (known as the Nike Campus) but the city also plays host to KEEN, Adidas, Columbia Sportsware, U.S. Bank, Oregon Steel Mills, Willamette Industries, and Louisiana-Pacific. Since the city is known as a "green city" you won't be too surprised to find there are a number of alternative energy companies there like Vestas Wind Systems.

Portland is unique in that the city hosts the worlds largest, and even legally sanctioned in Portland court, naked bike ride. The annual World Naked Bike Ride began in 1999 with less than seven participants but has grown to over 13,000. Another legal oddity you may not know is that there are very strong speech protections in the Oregon constitution that extend to full nudity and lap dances in strip clubs. Not by coincidence, Portland has more strip clubs per capita than Las Vegas or San Francisco.

If you need some help navigating these sometimes confusing courts, consult a local Portland lawyer today.

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