A: Gaston v. Parsons sticks out in my mind.
It’s a statute of limitations on medical
malpractice cases. It set the standard for that.
I remember every part of it vividly. I argued it
in the trial court, the Court of Appeals and in
the Supreme Court—and I did lose that. I felt
very strongly that we were right at the time,
but it served injured people of Oregon well, so
I am proud to be a part of that process—even
if I’m the losing party on that one. With time,
now I see the wisdom in [the court’s] thinking.
Q: And what is the statute of limitations
now for med mal cases?
A: It’s two years from the date of discovery.
The trick being, “What’s discovery?” That’s
what Tim Gaston’s case established. It gave
a test for when the court determines whether
the patient has discovered negligence, and
in the case of that, whether a physician’s
assurance that the bad thing that happened
was going to get better. Does that extend
the discovery time? The court found that if
there were assurances from the physician
that it was going to get better, then they get
that extra time.
[I’m also proud of] the constitutional cap
cases. The Legislature has chosen that, in
certain personal injury cases, damages are
capped. Either all of their damages are capped
by an overall cap, or the noneconomic portion
of the damages in certain kinds of other cases
are capped. I have a bunch of cases related to
the caps—mostly upholding the caps in the
various cases, or applying the cap.
It’s interesting pushing the limits of this
and what the Legislature has a right to
do, as opposed to what the constitution
requires, based on what happened in 1857.
Jurisprudence requires you to go back and
examine what existed in 1857. So that’s kind
of challenging and interesting.
A: That’s when Oregon’s constitution was
adopted. So based on what the common
law was in 1857 is a large part of the test
as to the constitutionality of the cap in any
given case. So there’s all kinds of different
things—looking back on various scenarios as
to what did or didn’t exist in 1857, as best we
can piece it together—to ascertain whether
the Legislature can or cannot mess with the
damages available to a plaintiff.
Q: Are you an expert now on what Oregon
was like in 1857?
A: I’m expert in trying to piece together what
LAW OFFICE OF TERRI WOOD, P.C.
730 Van Buren St.
Eugene, OR 97402
PH: (541) 484-4171 | FX: (541) 485-5923
Terri Wood exclusively practices criminal defense at the Law Office of Terri Wood, P.C. Recognized
for her professionalism and high ethical practice by her peers, she holds an AV Preeminent*
rating with Martindale-Hubbell®, ranks among The Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Oregon by The
National Trial Lawyers and appears in The Best Lawyers in America.
Wood represents clients in state and federal courts throughout Oregon. With more than
30 years specializing in criminal defense, including death penalty litigation, she has
defended numerous Measure 11 cases as well as non-violent crimes. Her federal practice has
included complex, multi-defendant conspiracy cases involving mortgage fraud, tax evasion,
government contract fraud and drug trafficking.
She is a past vice president of the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. Wood currently
serves on the OCDLA board and as board chairperson for the Public Defender Services of Lane
County. She is a founding partner of the Oregon Innocence Project. She has published and lectured
on criminal defense topics at legal seminars around the state and at the University of Oregon.