Bova v. City of Medford

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Attorney Fees
  • Date Filed: 08-13-2014
  • Case #: A150810
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Schuman, S.J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; & Wollheim, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Court has no reason to reverse an award of attorney fees from invalid supplemental judgments; and, the “substantial benefit” doctrine is not applicable unless an important constitutional right applying to all citizens is asserted.

The City of Medford (the city) appealed the trial court's award of attorney fees to Bova regarding his contempt and age discrimination claims. Bova is a retired city employee that brought a class action suit to challenge the city’s refusal to provide the same health care insurance after retirement that the city had provided before retirement. The city argued that the trial courts award of attorney fees should have been reversed because Bova prevailed on his contempt claim. Bova argued that the court erred in rejecting his claim to be awarded attorney fees for all work on the case under the “substantial benefit” doctrine. The Court affirmed the trial courts award of attorney fees for the contempt claim, holding that appeals to invalid supplemental judgments awarding attorney fees should be dismissed. Furthermore, the Court affirmed their prior decision by rejecting Bova’s argument, holding that the “substantial benefit” doctrine only applies where the claim provides others with a substantial constitutional right or financial benefit.

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