EXAMPLE OF AN OPINION ON A PETITION FOR ATTORNEY FEES AFTER A COURT ANNEXED ARBITRATION
I received no objection to Sellers' petition
for attorney fees. Notwithstanding the lack of objection, I must make
my own determination of reasonableness.
I have reviewed the statements rendered for attorney
fees. The total hours and the nature of the services rendered are reasonable.
The hourly rates are reasonable. Hours times rate is the only practical
approach for this kind of case. The requirement that an attorney be
involved was precipitated by the Buyer’s request for a trial in circuit court
which moved this case out of the small claims division. I award $2,396
as attorney fees. I also award $38.67 as additional attorney fees pursuant
to Willamette Production Credit Association v. Borg-Warner Acceptance Corporation
75 Or App 154, 158-59, 706 P2d 577 (1985) and Robinowitz v. Pozzi
127 Or App 464, 470, 872 P2d 993 (1994).
Sellers have also submitted a cost bill. I reject
the request for a prevailing party fee of $550 because of ORS 20.190(7).
The correct prevailing party fee is $275 as provided in ORS 20.190(2)(a)(A).
Sellers have requested the $500 deposit for my services
as additional attorney fees, perhaps under Willamette Production Credit
Association v. Borg-Warner Acceptance Corporation
, 75 Or App 154, 158-59,
706 P2d 577 (1985) and Robinowitz v. Pozzi
, 127 Or App 464, 470, 872
P2d 993 (1994). In my opinion, the source of entitlement to recover
attorney fees as costs is ORCP 68A(2): "‘costs and disbursements’ are reasonable
and necessary expenses incurred in the prosecution or defense of the action
other than for legal services, and include the fees of officers . . . .”
My role as arbitrator is predicated on my status as an attorney admitted to
the Oregon State Bar, UTCR 13.090(1) - thus I am an ‘officer of the court’,
ORS 9.010(1). I have authority to make rulings on cost applications
pursuant to UTCR 13.210(2) and (4)(e), and Multnomah County SLR 13.085.
I do not perceive that there was a realistic defense
to the Sellers’ complaint. Buyer never hired a lawyer and did not appear
except to request a continuance. I exercise my discretion to assess
the expense of the arbitrator, first, as to the $500 arbitrator’s deposit
paid by Buyer, and second, to the $500 deposit paid by Sellers. If there
is any excess, it will be refunded to the Sellers' lawyer's trust account.
I have calculated my total expense to be $758.88.
As a result, there will be a refund to the Sellers of $241.12. I have
thus reduced the cost bill award in that amount. The amount of the cost
bill to be awarded to Sellers is $689.88.
Your award has been filed.