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Silberman-Doney v. Gargan

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 04-17-2013
Case #: A149857
Nakamoto, J. for the Court; Schuman, P.J.; and Wollheim, J. dissented.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A149857.pdf

Civil Procedure: Under ORCP 64B(1), to prevail on a motion for new trial due to an irregularity in the court's proceedings, the proponent must show the court deviated from an established rule or practice.

Tenant (Gargan) appealed a ruling for new trial based on "irregularity." At trial, in a dispute between a landlord and tenant, the parties' were informed that Gargan's request for attorney fees would be granted because Gargan paid all rent owed to landlord (Silberman) before the action commenced. As a consequence of this ruling the parties entered into settlement negotiations and came to an agreement. Shortly after accepting the settlement, the lower court notified the parties that it had made a mistake in informing them that Gargan was entitled to attorney fees. The lower court gave the parties two options, either to enter into another settlement conference or start a new jury trial. Instead of choosing one of the options the parties each filed a proposed judgment. The lower court rejected both proposed judgments and entered its own general judgment that memorialized the parties' settlement agreement and awarded attorney fees to Gargan as the prevailing party. Silberman then filed a motion for new trial under ORCP 64B due to "[i]rregularity in the proceedings of the court," which the lower court granted. Gargan appealed. Under ORCP 64B(1), irregularity requires deviation from an established rule or practice. The Court held that there was no basis to grant a new trial for "irregularity" under ORCP 64B(1) because the proceedings were not "irregular." The lower court did not deviate from well-established practice when it retracted its initial ruling during the trial and gave the parties two options to resolve the case, and subsequently entered judgment based on the settlement agreement that the parties voluntarily entered into. Reversed and remanded.