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Goldingay v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

February 22, 2019

ROGER GOLDINGAY, Plaintiff,
v.
PROGRESSIVE CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY and CHEVRON U.S.A. INC., Defendants. CAROL OTIS, Plaintiff,
v.
PROGRESSIVE CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY and CHEVRON U.S.A. INC., Defendants.

          Brooks M. Foster, CHENOWETH LAW GROUP, PC, Of Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          J. Matthew Donohue and Kristin M. Asai, HOLLAND & KNIGHT LLP, Of Attorneys for Defendant Progressive Casualty Insurance Company.

          David A. Bledsoe and Julie A. Wilson-McNerney, PERKINS COIE LLP, Of Attorneys for Defendant Chevron U.S.A. Inc.

          OPINION AND ORDER ON ATTORNEY FEES

          MICHAEL H. SIMON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Roger Goldingay (“Goldingay”) and Carol Otis (“Otis”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) are husband and wife. They each filed their own lawsuit in state court against both Progressive Casualty Insurance Company (“Progressive”) and Chevron U.S.A. Inc. (“Chevron”) (collectively, “Defendants”). In these two lawsuits, Plaintiffs assert only state law claims related to real property in Oregon that they own in common. Defendants timely removed both actions based on diversity jurisdiction. In October 2018, the parties settled their disputes, except for attorney fees, and the Court entered stipulated judgments. Plaintiffs now move for an award of reasonable attorney fees. Defendants oppose Plaintiffs' motion, arguing first that Plaintiffs are not entitled to any attorney fees and second that if Plaintiffs are entitled to some fees, the amount awarded by the Court should be less than what Plaintiffs request. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs' request for attorney fees is granted in part, and the Court does not believe that oral argument is likely to be helpful.

         STANDARDS

         “In an action where a federal district court exercises subject matter jurisdiction over a state law claim, so long as state law does not contradict a valid federal statute, state law denying the right to attorney's fees or giving a right thereto, which reflects a substantial policy of the state, should be followed.” Avery v. First Resolution Mgmt. Corp., 568 F.3d 1018, 1023 (9th Cir. 2009) (citation and quotation marks omitted). Under Oregon law, if a plaintiff prevails in an action where the amount pleaded is $10, 000 or less, the plaintiff may seek a reasonable amount of attorney fees to be fixed by the court. See Or. Rev. Stat. § 20.080.

         After concluding that a prevailing party shall recover reasonable attorney fees, a court applying Oregon law must consider the specific factors set forth in Or. Rev. Stat. § 20.075 to determine the amount of attorney fees to be awarded. The specific factors set forth in Or. Rev. Stat. § 20.075(1) are:

(a) The conduct of the parties in the transactions or occurrences that gave rise to the litigation, including any conduct of a party that was reckless, willful, malicious, in bad faith or illegal.
(b) The objective reasonableness of the claims and defenses asserted by the parties.
(c) The extent to which an award of an attorney fee in the case would deter others from asserting good faith claims or defenses in similar cases.
(d) The extent to which an award of an attorney fee in the case would deter others from asserting meritless claims and defenses.
(e) The objective reasonableness of the parties and the diligence of the parties and their attorneys during the proceedings.
(f) The objective reasonableness of the parties and the diligence of the parties in pursuing settlement of the dispute.
(g) The amount that the court has awarded as a prevailing party fee under ORS 20.190.
(h) Such other factors as the court may consider appropriate under the circumstances of the case.

Or. Rev. Stat. § 20.075(1).[1] After considering these eight factors, Or. Rev. Stat. § 20.075(2) directs the court to consider the following additional eight factors:

(a) The time and labor required in the proceeding, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved in the proceeding and the skill needed to properly perform the legal services.
(b) The likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment by the attorney would preclude the attorney from taking other cases.
(c) The fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services.
(d) The amount involved in the controversy and the results obtained.
(e) The time limitations imposed by the client or the circumstances of the case.
(f) The nature and length of the attorney's professional relationship ...

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