Victims advocate groups push for lifting cap on jury awards - KPTV - FOX 12

Victims advocate groups push for lifting cap on jury awards

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SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

Survivors of sexual assault and workplace negligence banded together in Salem Tuesday to ask the legislature to re-write the law on jury awards.

About 25 different groups, including crime victims and disability groups, are pushing for this legislation.

They say thanks to a Supreme Court ruling last year, there is now an arbitrary one-size-fits-all limit on what juries can decide in terms of payments for survivors of everything ranging from child sexual abuse to domestic violence, to workplace or consumer negligence. In most cases, that cap is $500,000.

Survivors spoke up for two legislative bills Tuesday that would change that current cap. For some money is needed to help them pay for physical and emotional injuries, but all say the real importance of the big money awards is the change they can cause, saying institutions won't correct wrongdoings unless there is a huge price to pay.

Jon Anderson says a scoutmaster sexually abused him as a child, and while he is not looking to profit from the experience he said he wants to prevent it from happening again.

“I'm not looking for money to help me,” he said. “I'm looking for something to make a difference in how they deal with sexual abuse.”

Brenda Tracy, a well-known advocate for other victims who was gang-raped by four men near Oregon State University in 1998, said that for a victim of violence or abuse, being able to face an abuser is a large part of the healing process.

“There is something about getting your day in court when you're a survivor,” Tracy explained. “We are pushed into silence, ashamed, and it's important for our recovery and healing.”

Those pushing for these reforms say it is what residents of the state want, noting that since 2000, Oregonians have twice voted not to restrict jury awards in cases like these.

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