Lewis v. Beyer

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: 04-23-2014
  • Case #: A150592
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Schuman, S.J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; & Armstrong, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under OAR 860-022-0041, the “automatic adjustment clauses” determined by the Public Utility Commission only apply to taxes levied on or after January 1, 2006. Furthermore, attorney’s fees are not appropriate in this case under ORS 183 (Administrative Procedures Act).

The Public Utility Commission (PUC) appealed a Marion County Circuit Court judgment awarding Lewis attorney’s fees from an earlier action compelling PUC to order four utilities (Pacific Power, PGE, NW Natural Gas Co., and Avista Corporation) to establish “automatic adjustment clauses.” The “automatic adjustment clause” expressly applies to taxes paid and collected on or after January 1, 2006. Lewis asserted a right to attorney fees under the Oregon Administrative Procedures Act, as well as claimed that they should recover attorney's fees for having conferred a public benefit or a substantial benefit. The court only awards attorney’s fees to prevailing claimants for (1) judicial review of a final agency order; (2) judicial review of a declaratory ruling; or (3) a judicial determination of the validity of the rule. The Court determined that none of these theories were present. The Court disagreed with the award of attorney’s fees, and held that the “automatic rate adjustments” do not apply to years prior to 2006 as requested by Lewis. Reversed.

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