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Quesnoy v. State

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

October 17, 2018

STATE OF OREGON, DEPARTMENT OFCORRECTIONS; CAPT. HELPER, in his individual capacity; MARY RAINES, in her individual capacity; and ELIZABETH SUZANNE SAZIE, M.D., in her individual capacity, Defendant.


          Youlee Yim You, United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the court is plaintiff Sandra Quesnoy's Motion for Supplemental Award of Attorney's Fees and Award of Additional Interest. For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's motion is granted in the amount of $112, 422.36.


         Plaintiff suffered a violation of her civil rights while incarcerated for a property crime at Coffee Creek Correctional Institution in 2009. She attained partial victory at trial in February 2012 on claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Oregon disability laws, and the jury awarded her $50, 000. Judgment, ECF #120. The court then awarded plaintiff's attorney, Katelyn S. Oldham (Oldham), $121, 970.20 in attorney's fees and costs, compensating Oldham at an hourly rate of $275 per hour. Opinion and Order 16, 21, ECF #136; Supplemental Judgment, ECF #137.

         Because plaintiff owed the State of Oregon substantial restitution on her criminal conviction, the Oregon Department of Revenue (ODR) filed a writ of garnishment for the Judgment. ODR also issued a writ of garnishment for the Supplemental Judgment, against Oldham's objection. Oldham filed a notice of attorney-fee lien with this court and challenged both writs through a state administrative proceeding.

         An administrative law judge (ALJ) rejected plaintiff's challenges and entered a Final Order in ODR's favor. Plaintiff appealed the Final Order to the Oregon Court of Appeals. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) filed amicus briefs in her support. Several months later, the ALJ sua sponte withdrew the Final Order. The ALJ thereafter issued a Final Order on Reconsideration, finding that the prior order was partly in error and that ODR's attempt to garnish the Supplemental Judgment violated the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.

         Plaintiff continued to challenge the garnishment against the Judgment in the Oregon Court of Appeals. On June 28, 2017, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued an opinion in Quesnoy v. Department of Revenue, 286 Or.App. 359 (2017), affirming that garnishment.

         In September 2017, plaintiff filed a fee petition and bill of costs with the Oregon Court of Appeals seeking attorney's fees and costs related to the garnishment of the Supplemental Judgment. She also filed a “Motion to Reopen Case to File Supplemental Fee Petition and Cost Bill and to Address Interest Rate Owed” in this case. ECF #140. The state filed an opposition to the fee petition, asserting that no statutory or other legal basis allowed for such an award. On February 22, 2018, the Oregon Court of Appeals denied plaintiff's request for attorney's fees.

         This court granted plaintiff's motion and re-opened this case in May 2018, finding that an award for attorney's fees expended in collecting a judgment for fees awarded under § 1983 was proper. Order 5-6, ECF #150; see also Spain v. Mountanos, 690 F.2d 742, 746 (9th Cir. 1982) (“We agree with the Fifth Circuit that a state cannot frustrate the intent of section 1988 by setting up state law barriers to block enforcement of an attorney's fees award.”). As this court previously held, time spent by counsel in establishing the right to attorneys' fees is compensable. See Order 5-7, ECF #150. Plaintiff subsequently filed a supplemental fee petition relating to recovery of the Supplemental Judgment and seeking additional interest for the time that ODR withheld the Supplemental Judgment. ECF #153.


         I. Postjudgment Interest on the Supplemental Judgment

         Defendants remitted $121, 970.20, the entirety of the Supplemental Judgment, and $2, 895.48 in interest, [1] on April 3, 2014, 728 days after the court awarded the Supplemental Judgment. Plaintiff claims she is owed additional interest for the nearly two-year delay. Defendants agree, but dispute which interest rate applies. Plaintiff argues that the Oregon state law interest rate of 9% applies and that she is owed an additional $18, 995.48. See ORS 82.010(2). Alternatively, she argues that if the federal interest rate of 1.8% applies, then she is still owed an additional $1, 483.42.

         Plaintiff contends that the state interest rate applies because (1) ODR initiated garnishment under state laws and procedures and no federal court was involved in those proceedings, and (2) the nature of the garnishment is congruent with cases analyzing interest under ORS 80.010(1)(a), (b). These arguments are inapposite.

         Under federal law, “[i]nterest shall be allowed on any money judgment in a civil case recovered in a district court. . . . Such interest shall be calculated from the date of the entry of the judgment, at a rate equal to the weekly average 1-year constant maturity Treasury yield . . . for the calendar week preceding.” 28 U.S.C. § 1961(a) (emphasis added). “Interest shall be computed daily ...

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