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.

Bush v. City of Prineville

Court of Appeals of Oregon

January 8, 2020

Eric C. BUSH, an individual, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
CITY OF PRINEVILLE, a political subdivision of the State of Oregon; Michael Boyd, an individual; League of Oregon Cities; and Association of Oregon Counties, dba Local Government Personnel Institute, Defendants-Appellants.

          Argued and submitted October 12, 2018

          Crook County Circuit Court 14CV08987; A. Michael Adler, Judge.

          Robert E. Franz, Jr., argued the cause for appellants City of Prineville and Michael Boyd. Also on the briefs was Law Offce of Robert E. Franz, Jr.

          Janet M. Schroer argued the cause for appellants League of Oregon Cities and Association of Oregon Counties. Also on the briefs were Lindsay H. Duncan and Hart Wagner LLP.

          Roxanne L. Farra argued the cause for respondent. Also on the briefs were Roxanne L. Farra, P.C., R. Kyle Busse, and Busse & Hunt.

          Before Armstrong, Presiding Judge, and Tookey, Judge, and Shorr, Judge.

         Case Summary: Defendants appeal a supplemental judgment awarding attorney fees and costs to plaintiff, who prevailed in an action stemming from the termination of plaintiff's employment. Plaintiff's complaint alleged both fee-bearing and nonfee-bearing claims. After plaintiff accepted ORCP 54 E offers of judgment from defendants, the trial court entered a supplemental judgment [301 Or.App. 675] awarding plaintiff attorney fees joint and severally against all defendants on all of plaintiff's claims. The trial court concluded that plaintiff's acceptance of the defendants' offers of judgment, and the corresponding stipulated judgments entered thereafter, created contracts that entitled plaintiff to fees on all of his claims, whether fee-bearing or nonfee-bearing. Defendants appeal, arguing in two separate briefs that the trial court erred in awarding plaintiff attorney fees for his nonfee-bearing claims.

         Held: The text of the offers and the corresponding stipulated judgments entitled plaintiff to seek fees under ORCP 68 based on the existing claims in the lawsuit, but the offers and stipulated judgments did not themselves create a substantive right to fees on any of plaintiff's claims. The trial court erred in ruling otherwise.

         [301 Or.App. 676] SHORR, J.

         Defendants appeal from a supplemental judgment awarding attorney fees and costs to plaintiff, who prevailed in an action stemming from the termination of plaintiffs employment. After plaintiff accepted defendants' offers of judgment under ORCP 54 E, the trial court entered a supplemental judgment awarding plaintiff $639, 932.00 in attorney fees and $1, 654.88 in costs. Defendants, the City of Prineville (city) and its police captain (collectively, the city defendants) and the Local Government Personnel Institute (LGPI), raise several assignments of error challenging the court's award of attorney fees. We write to address only one assignment of error common to all defendants: that the trial court erred by awarding attorney fees for claims other than the claims related to wrongful discrimination under ORS 659A.082. Because we conclude that the trial court erred in ruling that the offers of judgment themselves created a contract that entitled plaintiff to attorney fees for all of his claims, including claims for which there is no right under law to prevailing party attorney fees, we reverse the supplemental judgment awarding attorney fees and remand to the trial court.

         To provide context for our discussion of the award of fees in this case, we first summarize the underlying facts that resulted in plaintiffs fee award. Plaintiff served as the city's police chief. Plaintiff also served in the Oregon National Guard and, in 2013, received a promotion within the National Guard that required him to travel overseas between 74 and 139 days per year. While plaintiff was overseas serving in the National Guard, the city retained LGPI to investigate plaintiffs use of leave to perform duties unrelated to his position as the city's police chief. When plaintiff returned from his overseas service and attempted to return to work for the city, he was informed that he had been placed on administrative leave pending the results of LGPI's investigation.

         The city ultimately fired plaintiff after the conclusion of LGPI's investigation, and plaintiff brought an action against defendants shortly thereafter. Plaintiff alleged that, by investigating and then firing plaintiff after he had taken [301 Or.App. 677] leave to perform National Guard duties, the city had violated ORS 659A.082, which prohibits discrimination against a uniformed service member because of the member's service, and that LGPI had aided and abetted the city in that discriminatory endeavor in violation of ORS 659A.030(1)(g). Plaintiff also alleged a number of common-law claims against only the city defendants, including wrongful discharge, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and defamation. In his complaint, plaintiff claimed an entitlement to attorney fees based on his statutory discrimination claim.[1]

         On October 2, 2014, the city defendants made an offer of judgment under ORCP 54 E to allow a judgment to be entered against them for "all damages claimed against them in this action in the gross amount of [$666, 701], plus reasonable attorney fees, costs and disbursements as determined pursuant to ORCP 68." Plaintiff accepted that offer. The trial court entered an amended stipulated judgment against the city defendants reflecting the terms of the offer. Consistently with the offer, that judgment, in relevant part, ordered that

"Plaintiff be awarded his reasonable attorney fees, costs and disbursements, with the amount of same to be determined by this Court at a later date ...

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.