Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Trent v. Connor Enterprises, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

October 16, 2019

Gina TRENT, an individual, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CONNOR ENTERPRISES, INC., a domestic corporation, dba Best Western New Oregon, Defendant-Respondent.

          Argued and submitted August 2, 2019

          Lane County Circuit Court 17CV02841 Charles D. Carlson, Judge.

          David A. Schuck argued the cause for appellant. Also on the briefs were Stephanie J. Brown, Karen A. Moore, and Schuck Law, LLC.

          Gregory T. Lusby argued the cause for respondent. Also on the brief were Ariana Denley and Arnold Gallagher P.C.

          Before Armstrong, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Chief Judge, and Aoyagi, Judge. [*]

         Case Summary: In this wage action, plaintiff accepted an offer to allow judgment in the amount of $2, 500, resulting in a general judgment in plaintiff's Plaintiff subsequently requested an award of attorney fees and costs, pursuant ORS 652.200(2) and 29 USC § 216(b). The trial court awarded costs, but attorney fees on the basis that plaintiff had acted unreasonably and in bad in the litigation and therefore was not entitled to an award under either In denying attorney fees under ORS 652.200(2), the court also relied on plaintiff's attorney having not given adequate notice of plaintiff's claim before an action. Plaintiff appeals the supplemental judgment, challenging the of attorney fees. Held: The trial court erred in concluding that plaintiff entitled to attorney fees under either statute. Under the terms of both plaintiff is entitled to an award of attorney fees, although the trial court will discretion on remand in deciding a “reasonable” amount to award. Reversed and remanded.

         [300 Or.App. 166] AOYAGI, J.

         Plaintiff brought this wage action against defendant, her former employer, under state and federal law. About ten months after plaintiff filed her original complaint, defendant made an offer to allow judgment in the amount of $2, 500, pursuant to ORCP 54 E, which plaintiff accepted, resulting in a stipulated general judgment. Plaintiff thereafter requested attorney fees and costs under ORS 652.200(2) and 29 USC § 216(b). The trial court awarded costs, but it denied attorney fees on the basis that plaintiff had "acted unreasonably and in bad-faith" in the litigation and therefore was not entitled to an award under either statute. On appeal, plaintiff challenges the denial of attorney fees. Because we agree with plaintiff that the trial court misconstrued the fee statutes, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         FACTS

         The relevant facts are minimal and largely procedural. Historical facts are stated consistently with unchallenged factual findings by the trial court.

         Plaintiff worked for defendant until November 2016, when her employment was terminated. On January 18, 2017, plaintiffs counsel notified defendant of a $511.87 wage deficiency. A week later, on January 25, plaintiff filed a complaint in the circuit court alleging a state wage claim, which she later amended to add a federal wage claim. On January 27, without knowledge of the complaint, defendant mailed a check to plaintiff in the amount of $1, 044.74. Plaintiff did not cash the check and, on January 30, authorized her attorney to proceed with the litigation. On March 20, defendant's counsel initiated settlement discussions with plaintiffs counsel, which continued, unsuccessfully, until November 14.

         On November 14, defendant made an offer to allow judgment pursuant to ORCP 54 E. See ORCP 54 E (limiting attorney fees if a party does not accept a qualifying pretrial offer and then recovers less than the offer amount at trial). Specifically, defendant offered to allow judgment in plaintiffs favor "in the sum of $2, 500.00 to resolve all claims, [300 Or.App. 167] including counterclaims, with costs, disbursements and/or attorney fees to be determined by the Court per ORCP 68." Plaintiff accepted the offer. The trial court entered a stipulated general judgment, awarding $2, 500 to plaintiff and dismissing defendant's counterclaims. As to costs, disbursements, and attorney fees, the general judgment states, "Yes, to be determined pursuant to ORCP 68."

         After entry of the general judgment, plaintiff filed a statement of attorney fees and costs, seeking approximately $45, 000 in fees and $733 in costs. The trial court ultimately awarded the requested costs, but it denied attorney fees on the basis that plaintiff had acted unreasonably and in bad faith. As relevant to the denial of fees, the trial court adopted written findings and conclusions, describing the history of the litigation and culminating with the following paragraph:

"Pursuant to ORS 652.200(2) and 29 USC § 216(b), the Plaintiff has acted unreasonably and in bad-faith resulting in the Plaintiff not being entitled to an award of attorney fees * * * because Plaintiff failed to comply with the notice requirements, [1] moved forward filing a suit on a theory that the Plaintiff had a prior violation of ORS 652.140 in the previous year when that was not true, [and] failed to accept the timely tendered check in the amount $1044.74 which would have amply covered the Plaintiffs claim especially with the Plaintiff subsequently acknowledging in court filings that her wage claim totaled just $266.73 while Defendant acknowledged that any such wage computations errors were De Minimis and totaled only ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.