Rowlett v. Fagan

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 05-14-2014
  • Case #: A146351
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Nakamoto, J., for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; & Egan, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

A properly stated negligence claim cannot be dismissed on the merits after an answer has already been filed before trial.

Rowlett appealed the jury verdict of an attorney malpractice claim, asserting various assignments of error, most notably that Fagan, and later Finn, were found negligent, but the jury awarded no damages. Rowlett argued the trial court erred in dismissing Rowlett's allegation that Fagan was negligent in failing to file an oppression claim earlier, and erred in submitting a verdict form that permitted the jury to use an arbitrary valuation date regarding Rowlett's interest in a company. The Court held that the standard for a judgment on a pleading is whether the claim can be asserted and not whether a claim is viable; that the trial court's reasoning for dismissing Rowlett's oppression claim is based on perceived viability. The Court also held that allowing the jury to use the settlement date as a valuation date was an error which probably affected the outcome of the case particularly in determining whether Rowlett suffered any damages. Lastly, the Court held that the trial court did not err in striking attorney fees as an item of negligence damages because the attorney fees initially paid would have been paid regardless of Fagan's negligence. Affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part.

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