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Hunt v. City of Eugene

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 04-25-2012
Case #: A134660
Schuman, P.J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A134660.pdf

Civil Procedure: ORCP 54(B) provides that nothing shall prevent the court from dismissing an action for want of prosecution notwithstanding the requirement that the clerk shall notify the parties that the case has been inactive for more than a year. Under ORS 20.105, the city is not entitled to attorney fees if the arguments brought against it were plausible.

The action commenced in 1993 due to yard debris accumulated in violation of the city code, and the Court affirmed in part and reversed in part 13 assignments of error on appeal, and 4 assignments of error on cross-appeal. First, the Court reversed the lower court in permitting Hunt to revive a writ of review action after six and one-half years of failing to prosecute. ORCP 54(B)(3) provides that a court shall notify when action has not been taken in one year. Because Hunt was litigating other actions related to the underlying cause of action and attempted to revive the writ proceeding only after receiving adverse ruling in three other actions, the lower court abused its discretion by allowing Hunt to revive. Second, in the declaratory judgment action, Hunt was prevented from collaterally attacking judgments under the doctrine of issue preclusion. The five factors for issue preclusion as set out in Nelson v. Emerald were all met in the present proceedings. Third, the Court affirmed the lower court’s decision in the quiet title action for the same reasons as the declaratory action. Hunt prevailed in his claim that the city was not entitled to an award of attorney fees in either the declaratory judgment or quiet title actions under ORS 20.105 because he had an objectively reasonable claim. Affirmed in part, reversed in part.