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Clackamas County Assessor v. Village at Main Street Phase II, LLC

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 06-28-2012
Case #: S058755
Walter, J. for the Court; En Banc.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/S058755.pdf

Attorney Fees: The Tax Court may only consider the factors specified in ORS 20.075(1) when exercising its discretion to award attorney fees. Additionally, when considering whether or not an enforcing agency has a reasonably interpretation of a statute, a tax court should consider whether and how it has been construed by the Supreme Court.

County appeals a supplemental judgment awarding Village attorney fees. County cites as error the Tax Court's abuse of discretion in awarding attorney fees because, although it was found to have interpreted a statute incorrectly when taxing Village, it was nonetheless an objectively reasonable interpretation. The Tax Court considered several factors in ORS 20.075(1), as well as whether the County was simply relitigating the issues before the trial court when it appealed the magistrate's decisions. The Supreme Court found that the Tax Court could not rely on factors outside those in the statute, and thus the Tax Court abused its discretion. Additionally, it found that County's interpretation of the statute was objectively reasonable, listing in particular that it had never come before the Supreme Court and that the Court had found both Village's and County's interpretation of the statute reasonable. Reversed and remanded.