Washington County v. Querbach

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 12-30-2015
  • Case #: A154903, A155453
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Nakamoto, J., for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; & Egan, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

In condemnation proceedings, ORS chapter 35 governs over statutory filing requirements listed in ORCP 9 or 17, so that an Offer of Compromise that is unsigned and unfiled when the county makes it, is considered “effective to sever [a] defendant’s entitlement to attorney fees and costs under ORS 35.300(4).”

This consolidated appeal arises from Washington County initially offering Querbach $54,000 for the taking a segment of his property to build a public road. Querbach rejected that offer and a condemnation action was filed. Prior to trial, Washington County served Querbach with an un-signed, un-filed Offer of Compromise for $70,000. Querbach rejected that offer as well. At trial, the jury awarded Querbach $65,375. Querbach requested attorney’s fees and costs in the amount of $183,634.50. The trial judge awarded $131,066.32 of those attorney fees and costs. Washington County argued that pursuant to ORS 35.300(4), when a jury verdict awards less than the offer of compromise, the attorney fees and costs are limited to ones incurred prior to the date of the offer of compromise. Querbach contended that being unsigned, the offer of compromise, while a valid settlement offer, “was not a valid ‘offer of compromise’ with specific legal consequences under ORS 35.300.” The Court concluded that ORS chapter 35 governs offers of compromise rather than the specific filing requirements of ORCP 9 and further concludes that even though the offer was unsigned, it was still effective to cut off Querbach’s claimed attorney fees at the date the offer was served. A154903 affirmed; A155453 reversed and remanded.

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