Trial numbers in Multnomah County have been on a steady decline from when I started this blog in 2014 until the courts were largely shut down due to Covid. The Covid years of 2020 and 2021 produced only a handful of civil jury trials. It will be interesting to see whether there is a post-Covid spike in trial numbers or if the decline continues.
Trials By Case Type
The majority of all personal injury trials in Multnomah County arise from motor vehicle crashes. When you add pedestrian and insurance cases to the MVA numbers, you see that 70% of all trials in Multnomah County have some relationship to a motor-vehicle accident. Medical negligence cases are the second most common type of personal injury trial in Multnomah County.
To understand the categories you should know that I include bicycle cases within the pedestrian category. I include PIP denials, UM/UIM trials and bad faith trials within the insurance category. Also, the assault category includes sexual assault cases.
Cases Sorted By Verdict Range
Plaintiffs have won 64.4% of all Multnomah County trials since January 1, 2014. But many personal injury trials only involve disputes over money and liability is uncontested so that number is a bit misleading. What is pretty clear from the numbers is that the majority of trials in the county are on smaller cases. That is probably true everywhere. The majority of verdicts end up in small verdicts and defense verdicts. Larger cases are less common. Verdicts over $100,000 account for only 21.7% of all verdicts and only 5.3% have reached seven figures or higher.
Verdicts By Case Type
One of the interesting things to follow is verdicts by case types. If you look at the trials broken out by case type you can learn interesting information such as the defense wins the vast majority of all medical negligence cases. That is likely due to the complexity of those cases. You also learn that the vast majority of motor vehicle accident cases result in defense verdicts and small verdicts. This likely has something to do with insurance policy limits. Many bigger cases hit policy limits and resolve leaving smaller cases for trial.
Assault and Sexual Assault Cases
There have only been fifteen civil assault and sexual assault trials since 2014 in Multnomah County. There have been several significant verdicts. The significant verdicts have all been in sexual assault cases.
Top Three Civil Assault / Sexual Assault Verdicts Since 2014
$3,000,000.00 - JJ v. Gresham-Barlow School District, Multnomah County Case No. 17CV13702
$2,050,000.00 - ES v. State of Oregon, Multnomah County Case No. 14CV05451.
$1,000,000.00 - SK v. Kay, Multnomah County Case No. 16CV30617.
Bicycle Accident Cases
There have been twenty-three bicycle cases tried in Multnomah County since 2014. There has only been one case where a substantial verdict was returned.
Top Three Bicycle Verdicts Since 2014
$339,035.00 - Peterson v. Bauman, Multnomah County Case No. 14CV16782
$80,776.79 - Lindahl v. Glathar, Multnomah County Case No. 15CV09588
$79,611.00 - Panttila v. Cooney, Multnomah County Case No. 16CV40631
Dog Bite /Attack Cases
There have only been three dog bite/dog attack cases tried in Multnomah County since 2014. Only one has resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff.
Plaintiff Dog Bite Verdicts Since 2014
$404,044.75 - Travers v. Scheffer, Multnomah County 1401-00913.
Medical Malpractice Cases
There have been thirty nine medical negligence cases tried in Multnomah County since 2014. The defense has won a whopping 79.5% of those trials. There have been five medical negligence cases that have resulted in verdicts in excess of $1 Million.
Top Three Medical Negligence Verdicts Since 2014
$4,745,469.00 - Merez v. Tuality Healthcare, Multnomah County Case No. 1212-16439
$4,593,808.55 - Croff v. Roberts and Aspen Spine & Neurosurgery et al., Multnomah County Case No. 15CV17095
$3,720,000.00 - Haveman v. Oregon Emergency Physicians et al., Multnomah County Case No. 1404-04430
Motorcycle Accident Cases
There have only been three motorcycle accident cases tried in Multnomah County since 2014. While all three were plaintiff's verdicts, only one resulted in a verdict in excess of $100,000.
Top Three Motorcycle Accident Verdicts Since 2014
$234,649.89 - Reusser v. Rushing and Multnomah County, Multnomah County Case No. 1305-06328
$8,878.68 - DeRoo v. Decker, Multnomah County Case No. 16CV06279
$2,500.00 - MacLean v. Cook, Multnomah County Case No. 19CV36691
Motor Vehicle Accident Cases
Car crashes account for the majority of all personal injury trials in Multnomah County. There have been 242 MVA cases tried in Multnomah County since 2014. The majority of those trials have been on smaller cases. 86.3% have resulted in either a defense verdict or a verdict under $100,000.
Top Three MVA Verdicts Since 2014
$1,846,425.00 - Garrison v. Industrial Finishes & Systems Inc. et al., Multnomah County Case No. 17CV18794.
$969,467.00 - Dominguez v Rodriguez et al., Multnomah County Case No. 16CV16260.
$776,045.20 - Murray v. Broaddus, Multnomah County Case No. 15CV09100.
Oregon Revised Statute 20.080 gives plaintiff's the opportunity to recover legal fees on cases pled at $10,000 or less when the defense was presented with a proper demand and the plaintiff beat their offer at trial. Most of these cases are minor MVA cases with unremarkable property damage making the case less visually impressive and ripe for the defense to argue against injury causing forces with a well paid biomechanical engineer. But it is interesting to see where the verdicts land. There have been 56 cases tried under ORS 20.080 since 2014.
These cases have resulted in defense verdicts 46.9% of the time. The remaining cases may or may not have beaten the 20.080 offer made by the defense. In cases where plaintiffs have beaten the the 20.080 offer, awarded legal fees have ranged from a low of $24,367.50 to a high of $45,675.00.
Pedestrian Accident Cases
There have been sixteen pedestrian injury cases tried since 2014. Five have resulted in verdicts in excess of $100,000 including one with a verdict of $13,921,922.00.
Top Three Pedestrian Verdicts Since 2014
$13,921,922.00 -Busch v. McInnis Waste Systems Inc., Multnomah County Case No. 15CV13496.
$367,274.18 - Johnson v. Tenney, Multnomah County Case No. 20CV32873.
$176,165.19 - Mohammed v. Chloupek, Multnomah County Case No. 16CV18838.
PIP Denial Cases
All Oregon auto insurance policies have personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. PIP is a no-fault portion of your auto insurance policy that pays for a limited amount of reasonable and necessary medical expenses and wage losses. Sometimes insurance carriers will deny PIP benefits or cut them off after an "independent" medical examiner decides that the person's medical bills or wage losses are not reasonable, necessary or related to the crash. In those cases, lawsuits can be brought for denying insurance benefits. PIP denial cases have the potential for the award of legal fees pursuant to ORS 742.061. Since 2014 there have been seven PIP denial cases tried to juries in Multnomah County. Plaintiffs won five of those cases. Judges have awarded legal fees from $17,790.00 to $33,052.50.
Premises Liability Cases
There have been thirty four premises liability trials in Multnomah County since 2014. The defense has won fifteen of those cases. Four cases have resulted in verdicts in excess of one million dollars.
Top Three Premises Liability Verdicts Since 2014
$20,395,000.00 - Trebelhorn v. Prime Wimbledon SPE et al., Multnomah County Case No. 16CV40959.
$11,411,446.74 - Owens v. Mt. Hood Ski Bowl, et al., Multnomah County Case No. 18CV22336
$1,627,578.00 - Armstrong-Stevenson v. Safeway Inc., Multnomah County Case No. 15CV04913.
Product Liability Cases
There have been ten product liability cases tried in Multnomah County since 2014. Seven were asbestos cases, two were cigarette cases and one was a talcum powder case. Six of the ten cases resulted in verdicts in excess of a million dollars.
Top Three Product Liability Verdicts Since 2014
$30,000,000.00 - Ibarra v. Ameron International Corporation, Multnomah County Case No. 20CV25344.
$6,218,046.00 - Miller v. Kaiser Gypsum Company Inc., Multnomah County Case No. 19CV08509.
$3,957,672.70 - Golok v. CBS Corp. et al., Multnomah County Case No. 1308-11192.
In Oregon, you are required to have uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage on your auto insurance policy. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage applies when you are in a crash and the at-fault driver has no auto insurance. Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverages applies once you have recovered the limits of an at-fault driver's insurance and it was not enough to cover all your damages. While often arbitrated, these cases can be tried to a jury for a variety of reasons including potential attorney fee exposure. Unlike a standard MVA case where the lawsuit is against the at-fault driver (e.g. Smith v. Jones), this is a direct claim against an insurance company (e.g. Smith v. State Farm Insurance Company). For that reason, these are hard cases for the defense.
There have been twenty two UM/UIM jury trials in Multnomah County since 2014. All but one resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff.
Top Three UM/UIM Verdicts Since 2014
$633,000.00 - Nelson v. Safeco Insurance, Multnomah County Case No. 15CV14729.
$600,000.00 - Whitman v. USAA, Multnomah County Case No. 19CV16005.
$374,500.00 - Derieux v. State Farm, Multnomah County Case No. 1310-14055.
Workplace Injury Cases
Oftentimes, the "exclusive remedy" for workplace injuries is the worker's compensation system. There are exceptions including: lawsuits against third parties (not your employer) which are often brought using Oregon's Employer Liability Law (ELL), railroad workers whose claims fall under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) and seaman whose claims fall under the Jones Act. For the purposes of this blog, we lump all those together in the workplace injury category.
There have been seven workplace injury verdicts in Multnomah County since 2014. One of those cases resulted in a verdict in excess of one million dollars.
Top Three Workplace Injury Verdicts Since 2014
$11,401,000.00 - Pinkstaff v. Tidewater Barge Lines, Multnomah County Case No. 19CV54217.
$985,275.80 - Dorrance v. Union Pacific Railroad, Multnomah County Case No. 14CV07336.
$975,870.13- Perry v. Phase II Transportation, Inc., Multnomah County Case No. 17CV14005.
General Negligence Cases
Some cases aren't easily categorized. For those cases, I have categorized them as general negligence cases.
Cases included in this category include:
Smith v. Reynolds School District, Multnomah County Case No. 14CV05314 - School district failed to follow an IEP which required that a special-needs child be assisted with all transfers due to fall risks and brittle bones which led to a fall with a disabling leg fracture ($800,000.00).
Baker v. Dozier, Multnomah County Case No. 16CV05410 - Plaintiff's coworker approached Plaintiff's work station and pulled a pistol then fired a "blank" round causing Plaintiff severe emotional distress ($31,000.00).
Kohut v. Blue Star Services, Inc., Multnomah County Case No. 15CV29552 - Airport transport service not stopping to load an elderly client in an appropriate location thus requiring the client to walk in an unlit area and step into a depression and fall fracturing her ankle and suffering post-traumatic arthritis ($476,478.24).
Konsa v Connected Healthcare Inc. et al., Multnomah County Case No. 16CV28737 - A home healthcare worker parked her car on an incline and did not put it in park when at a patients house. As it began to roll backwards she yelled for Plaintiff to jump in and try to stop the car. In attempting to help Plaintiff fell under the car and suffered crush injuries to his knee, pelvis, hips etc. ($1,780,082.19).
Dominguez v. Alex Freddi Construction et al., Multnomah County Case No. 17CV17439 - Plaintiff was a painter who was asked to pain a bathroom in a home that was being remodeled by Defendants. Defendants had taken removed the grates covering ducts in the bathroom during the remodel and had also disconnected the lighting. Plaintiff walked in to the bathroom and fell into an open duct causing her to suffer a broken ankle and torn hip labrum. Plainitiff's medical expert indicated that Plaintiff would need a future hip replacement surgery ($349,942.28).
Laing v. TRI-MET et al., Multnomah County Case No. 17CV36490 - Woman suffered severe injuries including a traumatic above knee amputation after being hit by a TRI-MET Max train. She alleged that TRI-MET was responsible due to negligent design of the Max platform among other things ($8,700.000.00).
Shephard v. Loy Clark Pipeline Co., Multnomah County Case No. 18CV47339 - Plaintiff suffered brain and inner ear injuries along with soft-tissue injuries after he was blasted into a wall by the force of a pipeline explosion caused by Defendant's employees working nearby ($232,500.00).
Derby v. Columbia County Et al., Multnomah County Case No. 19CV17239 - Plaintiffs are parents of a mentally ill son. The son was incarcerated at the Columbia County Jail and put in solitary confinement for a period of time, despite the fact that he was known to be mentally ill. After he was released, he cut his mother's throat thinking that she was an imposter imitating his mother ($450,571.89).
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