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ZRZ Realty v. Beneficial Fire and Casualty Ins.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 11-10-2011
Case #: S057155
Kistler, J. for the Court; En banc
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/S057155.pdf

Attorney Fees: The 2005 amendment to ORS 742.001 that created an exemption for surplus lines insurance policies to the rule that in certain instances plaintiffs may collect attorney fees from an insurance company, does not apply to claims filed before the effective date of the amendment.

Plaintiff, Zidell Marine Corporation (Zidell), petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court to recover attorney fees that it incurred in a suit against its insurance company that was appealed to the Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court. Defendant’s insurance company, Lloyd's of London, (Lloyd’s) objected to the award of fees, based on the 2005 amendment to ORS 742.001. The statute at issue explained that plaintiffs are entitled to attorney fees when, 1) plaintiff brought suit against an insurance company and settlement failed to occur within six months, and 2) plaintiff prevailed at trial with a judgment in excess of defendant’s settlement offer. The Supreme Court held that the 2005 amendment does not apply to cases such as this one, because the lawsuit was filed before the effective date of the amendment. Thus, because ORS 742.001 was inapplicable, and Zidell established that it had recovered more than Lloyd’s had tendered, it was entitled to attorney fees. Petition for attorney fees allowed.