Tort Actions

ORS 31.730
Standards for award of punitive damages

  • required review of award by court
  • additional reduction of award for remedial measures


Punitive damages are not recoverable in a civil action unless it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the party against whom punitive damages are sought has acted with malice or has shown a reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and has acted with a conscious indifference to the health, safety and welfare of others.


If an award of punitive damages is made by a jury, the court shall review the award to determine whether the award is within the range of damages that a rational juror would be entitled to award based on the record as a whole, viewing the statutory and common-law factors that allow an award of punitive damages for the specific type of claim at issue in the proceeding.


In addition to any reduction that may be made under subsection (2) of this section, upon the motion of a defendant the court may reduce the amount of any judgment requiring the payment of punitive damages entered against the defendant if the defendant establishes that the defendant has taken remedial measures that are reasonable under the circumstances to prevent reoccurrence of the conduct that gave rise to the claim for punitive damages. In reducing awards of punitive damages under the provisions of this subsection, the court shall consider the amount of any previous judgment for punitive damages entered against the same defendant for the same conduct giving rise to a claim for punitive damages. [Formerly 18.537]

Notes of Decisions

Whether punitive damages are within range awardable by rational juror is not determined by fixed ratio between compensatory damages amount and punitive damages amount. Axen v. American Home Products Corp., 158 Or App 292, 974 P2d 224 (1999), modified 160 Or App 19, 981 P2d 340 (1999), Sup Ct review denied, cert. denied, 528 US 1136

Reduction of punitive damages awarded on common law claim of wrongful discharge violates section 17, Article I, Oregon Constitution. Halbasch v. Med-Data, Inc., 192 FRD 641 (D. Or. 2000)

Power to reduce damages award based on remedial measures taken by defendant is limited to trial court. Groth v. Hyundai Precision and Ind. Co., 209 Or App 781, 149 P3d 333 (2006)

Proof of elevated mens rea required by this provision for award of noneconomic damages does not establish similar requirement for other statutes that provide for award of noneconomic damages. Herring v. American Medical Response Northwest, 255 Or App 315, 297 P3d 9 (2013), Sup Ct review denied


Last accessed
Mar. 11, 2023