TriMet v. Aizawa

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Property Law
  • Date Filed: 10-05-2017
  • Case #: S064112
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Kistler, J. for the Court; Balmer, C.J.; Duncan, J.; Flynn, J.; Landau, J.; Nakamoto, J.; & Walters, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

“[T]he court shall give judgment to the [property owner] for the amount offered as just compensation for the property * * * and, in addition, for costs and disbursements, attorney fees and expenses that are determined by the court to have been incurred before service of the offer on the [owner].” ORS 35.300(2).

TriMet appealed the trial court’s decision affirmed by the Court of Appeals that allowed the recovery of attorney fees incurred in litigating both the merits and the actual amount of a fee award in a property condemnation case. In this appeal, Trimet argued the text of ORS 35.300(2) unambiguously does not permit the recovery of fees when determining the amount of the award after Trimet gave Noble a formal “offer of compromise”. Noble responded that the text, context, and legislative history are not clear, and allowing the recovery of attorney fees for determining an award is established Oregon law. “[T]he court shall give judgment to the [property owner] for the amount offered as just compensation for the property * * * and, in addition, for costs and disbursements, attorney fees and expenses that are determined by the court to have been incurred before service of the offer on the [owner].” ORS 35.300(2). The Oregon Supreme Court held that based off the text, context, and legislative history, a property owner “may recover both the pre-offer costs and fees reasonably incurred in litigating the merits of the condemnation action and the post-offer costs and fees reasonably incurred in determining the amount of the resulting fee award.” The decision of the Court of Appeals and the judgment of the circuit court are affirmed. 

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