Park v. Dept. of Corrections
Case #: A146485
Ortega, P.J. for the court; Sercombe, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A146485.pdf
Attorney Fees: It is impermissible to award attorney fees simply because a witness is disbelieved or because their credibility is challenged.
Park appeals a judgment that granted attorney fees to the state after she was found to have made "frivolous, unreasonable, and brought in bad faith" claims in sex discrimination and unlawful retaliation suit. After a conflict with a male coworker at the Department of Corrections (DOC) and a subsequent anonymous complaint, Park was reassigned to the mailroom, which she argued reduced her ability to make overtime during the holidays. She filed a complaint in which she challenged her reassignment as well as the DOC's failure to discipline two male employees involved in previous incidents. Shortly thereafter, Park, suffering side effects from an estrogen treatment, asked fellow coworkers to touch her breasts to confirm that they felt swollen. A supervisor overheard the interaction, and the DOC started the pre-dismissal process. Park raised a BOLI civil rights claim. The jury sided with the state, and Park was assigned to pay $30,000 in legal fees due to the frivolous nature of her claims. The Court concluded that, while Park may have made untruthful statements, there was other, independent evidence that supported her claims, and, therefore, could not be considered frivolous just based on Park’s dishonesty alone. Reversed.