Prison Abuse

Oregon Attorney / Lawyer for victims of Prison Abuse

Oregon State and Federal Claims

Prison abuse cases are some of the most difficult cases to bring as a state law case in the state of Oregon because of all of the hoops that a prisoner must jump through in order to make an Oregon State Law claim. Outlined below are only some of the challenges in bringing a prison abuse case in the state of Oregon. Additionally the U.S. Congress passed the Prisoners Litigation Reform Act, which imposes substantial hurdles for federal claims. I am willing to accept the right case, involving substantial injury and supporting evidence, with the right client who is willing to jump through all of the necessary hoops and make the necessary commitments to do well throughout litigation process.

Oregon Tort Claim Notice See: Oregon Tort Claim Notice

Economic Damages Must Be Proven for an Inmate to Obtain Damages for Pain and Suffering.
Economic damages are often difficult to show when the prisoner obtains free medical assistance through the prison facility. The economic damages do not need to be a lot of money. If the prisoner pays just a nominal amount of money for her/his injuries, I would argue that the statutory requirement has been met. I suggest that the prisoner carefully document any money paid for injuries as a result of prison abuse.

ORS 30.650 – Award for noneconomic damages in an inmate action: “Noneconomic damages, as defined in ORS 31.710, may not be awarded to an inmate in an action against a public body unless the inmate has established that the inmate suffered economic damages, as defined in ORS 31.710.”

ORS 31.710 Noneconomic damages; award; limit; “economic damages” and “noneconomic damages” defined. (2) As used in this section: (a) “Economic damages” means 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, damage to reputation that is economically verifiable, reasonable and necessarily incurred costs due to loss of use of property and reasonable costs incurred for repair or for replacement of damaged property, whichever is less.

As of 2/18/2011, I have only found one Oregon case involving ORS 30.650, in which the statute was upheld in Voth v. State of Oregon, Robert Lampert and Officer Hoglan, 190 ORe. App. 154; 78 P. 3d 565; (2003). The plaintiff represented himself and the issue involved a failure of the state to provided medically prescribed shoes. The court held that since the plaintiff did not incur any economic damages that his case was barred.

Physical injury must be shown in order to obtain recovery for emotional distress in Federal claims.
In Zehner v. Trigg, 133 F.3d 459 (7th Cir. 1997) the court upheld the constitutionality of the PRLA which precludes any damage recovery by a prisoner for mental or emotional injury without a prior showing of physical injury. Note: While this is a 7th Circuit case and not binding on the 9th circuit, it is most certainly influential and I would expect the 9th circuit to rule the same.

Exhaust Administrative Remedies Prior to Making a Claim.
Prior to filing a lawsuit against a City/County/State agency such as the Jail staff where you reside, you must exhaust any administrative procedures to address your grievances. If you do not follow all administrative procedures listed in the rules, your case will be dismissed. To exhaust administrative procedures you must: 1) attempt to resolve the issue by communicating with appropriate staff, 2) if that fails, file a grievance within thirty days of the incident, 3) receive notice from the grievance coordinator that your grievance has been investigated, 4) if grievance coordinator fails to remedy the situation, file an appeal within 14 days after the grievance findings with functional unit manager, 5) receive notification that the appeal is denied.

Before prisoners may challenge a condition of their confinement in federal court, the Prisoners Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) requires prisoners to first exhaust available administrative remedies by pursuing to completion whatever inmate grievance and/or appeal procedures their prison custodians provide:
“No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).

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