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Huffman & Wright Logging Co. v. Wade

857 P.2d 101 (1993)

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Huffman & Wright Logging Co. v. Wade

Oregon Supreme Court

857 P.2d 101 (1993)

Facts

Six members (defendants) of the environmental activist group Earth First! protested the policies of the Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon by demonstrating on a logging road. The protestors climbed onto logging equipment belonging to Huffman & Wright Logging Company (Huffman & Wright) (plaintiff). They chained themselves to some of the equipment and hung a banner from a yarder. The protestors chanted slogans and sang songs to promote increased environmental protection. The protestors were arrested, however, Huffman & Wright had to cease its logging operations for almost one day. After being convicted on charges of criminal mischief, the protestors paid fines and spent two weeks in jail. Huffman & Wright then sued the protestors for trespass to chattels. The protestors conceded that they were liable for compensatory damages. However, they alleged that punitive damages were not recoverable because their demonstration constituted expressive conduct that was protected by the Oregon Constitution and the Constitution of the United States. The jury found in favor of Huffman & Wright, awarding them compensatory damages of $5,700, and punitive damages of $25,000. The protestors moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict in regard to the punitive damages. The trial court denied the protestors’ motion. They sought review of whether punitive damages were constitutional, and the Oregon Supreme Court granted their petition.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Graber, J.)

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