OR high court upholds right to sue doctors at OHSU

OR high court upholds right to sue doctors at OHSU »Play Video
Jordaan Clark will need specialized care all his life with an estimated cost of about $11 million.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The Oregon Supreme Court said Friday that individual doctors and nurses at Oregon Health & Science University can be sued despite a liability cap for state agencies that protects OHSU.
     
The case involves Jordaan Clarke, who suffered permanent brain damage when he was 3 months old after a breathing tube became dislodged in the recovery room following successful open heart surgery in May 1998.
     
The university admitted negligence that left him with profound brain damage requiring round-the-clock care for life at an estimated cost of $11 million.
     
But a trial judge named OHSU as the sole defendant under the Oregon Tort Claims Act, which caps claims against OHSU at $200,000.
     
The Oregon Court of Appeals rejected that decision, saying it violates a constitutional guarantee that "every man shall have remedy by due course of law for injury done him in his person, property, or reputation."
     
The Supreme Court on Friday backed the appeals court, with two justices offering concurring opinions.
     
The high court said the state constitution adopted in 1857 intended to preserve long-standing remedies for wrongs done to individuals, and the remedy limited just to OHSU was "an emasculated version" that violates the constitution.
     
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)