McDonald v. MacDonald

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Attorney Fees
  • Date Filed: 12-24-2014
  • Case #: A149912
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Hadlock, J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; & Lagesen, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

When an attorney fee agreement includes language that allows for a court to determine particular statutory factors in determining attorney legal fees, an appeal arising from an issue with an adverse ruling by the court in regards to those legal fees will not be considered to have been preserved.

Petitioner is the trustee of the Walter Brown Trust. Respondent was the conservator for Walter Brown. Petitioner retained an attorney to settle some disputes that arose regarding the trust and its administration. The trust was comprised of a single piece of real property, the title of which became clouded by a filing of a notice of lis pendens. The attorney, Cartwright, cleared the title of the encumbrance and, per the attorney-fee agreement, requested $42,723.45 in legal fees. The trial court determined that his fees should be $20,000. Petitioner wished to pay Cartwright from the Trust assets, but the trial court determined that the Cartwright’s legal efforts had not adequately benefitted the trust. Petitioner argues on appeal that the trial court erred by awarding a different amount to Cartwright than the fee agreement stated and that it erred by awarding a lesser amount based on its perception that Cartwright’s services had not been sufficiently correlated to the Trust. The Court ruled that the petitioner had not preserved either of these points of contention for appellate review because the petitioner invited the trial court determination by stating in the fee agreement that the court should consider particular statutory factors in determining Cartwright’s legal fees. Affirmed.

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