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Williamson v. Government Employees Insurance co.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 12-14-2011
Case #: A145095
Haselton, P.J. for the court; Armstrong, J.; & Duncan, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A145095.pdf

Attorney Fees: Attorney fees are not recoverable under ORS 20.080 in a decision awarding "money had and received" because such recovery is based on a contract implied in law.

Williamson's mother passed away and Government Insurance Co. continued to withdraw money from a joint checking account shared by Williamson and her mother. Williamson was able to recover the money taken from the account through court-annexed arbitration, but was unable to recover attorneys fees under ORS 20.080, which limits recovery of attorney fees to cases sounding in tort. Williamson argued ORS 20.080 should be read broadly to allow recovery of attorney fees on a claim for money "had and received"; or alternatively she should be allowed to recover under the ORS 20.082 exception, allowing for recovery of attorney fees in cases sounding in contract when the amount is less than $5,500. The arbitrator held that recovery of money "had and received" sounded in tort and denied attorney fees; the trial court affirmed and additionally denied the claim under 20.082 because it was not raised before the arbitrator. Williamson appealed and the Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that recovery of "money had and received" is based on a contract implied in law and that an exception under 20.082 must be made within seven days of filing of a decision by the arbitrator. Affirmed.