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Williams v. Salem Women’s Clinic

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 09-08-2011
Case #: A141570
Hadlock, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J. & Sercombe, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A141570.pdf

Attorney Fees: If a party pursues a claim that is entirely devoid of legal or factual support, ORS 20.105(1) requires an attorney fee award; the factors specified in ORS 20.075 do not apply when a party seeks a mandatory attorney fee award.

Williams brought a breach of contract claim against her former employer, Salem Women’s Clinic (“SWC”). In support of her claim, Williams alleged David Barlow (“Barlow”), SWC’s former practice manager, had made certain representations during contract negotiations. SWC filed a third-party complaint against Barlow because of the representations. The trial court ruled in favor of Williams and Barlow. The trial court also awarded attorney fees to Barlow under ORS 20.105, concluding that SWC acted unreasonably in pursuing its claim against Barlow. SWC appealed the attorney fee award. The Court held that SWC did not act unreasonably because the record was not entirely devoid of support for the claim against Barlow; Williams’ allegations provided some basis for SWC’s claim. Award of attorney fees reversed; award of enhanced prevailing party fee vacated and remanded; otherwise affirmed.