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Can I file for punitive damages on an Oregon small claims case against a business?

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This question came from a reader who came upon the Oregon Legal Research blog while doing some research.

About Oregon small claims court and damages: Judges and mediators in Oregon small claims courts have a fair amount of discretion when working with plaintiffs and defendants on resolving their disuptes. This discretion includes working with the parties to decide on what damage claims should be honored In the Interest of Justice.

Some things to keep in mind:

1) I recommend you read as much as you can about Small Claims courts in Oregon and also think about consulting an attorney who can advise you. The Oregon State Bar Referral and Information Service can refer you to a Small Claims Coach, an attorney who is familiar with small claims court practice and procedure. If you do consult an attorney, make sure you ask about the rules of “full disclosure” for attorneys assisting parties in Small Claims Court.

2) Read the research guide on Oregon Small Claims Court at the Washington County Law Library (currently on the What’s New page). It will link to books and other guides.

3) If you file in Circuit Court, do pay attention not just to the ORS but also to the Court’s SLRs (Supplementary Local Rules), which you may find at your Circuit Court’s webpage or from the OJD webpage. (These are sometimes called SupplementAL Local Rules.)

4) If you are suing a business, make sure you read and follow the rules exactly. The Oregon State Bar brochure on Small Claims Court is a good place to begin researching those. Your own Circuit or Justice Court is another source of information.

5) Last, but not least: Sit in on Small Claims Court as part of your preparation for your own hearing or trial. You will learn a lot, which will serve you well when it is your turn to present your side of the dispute.