Spearman v. Progressive Classic Ins. Co.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Insurance Law
  • Date Filed: 01-27-2016
  • Case #: A155674
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Flynn, J. for the Court; Hadlock, C.J.; Armstrong, J.; Ortega, J.; Sercombe, J.; Duncan, J.; Egan, J.; Lagesen, J.; Tookey, J.; Garrett, J.; Haselton, S.J.; & Nakamoto, J. pro tem. DeVore, J., concurring.

Under ORS 742.061(3), disputes over individual categories of damages or over some, but not all, alleged injuries are not precluded because these disputes fall under the issue of damages due to plaintiff.

After sustaining injuries in a motor vehicle accident, Plaintiff submitted a claim for Uninsured Motorist (UM) benefits to Defendant Progressive. The parties were unable to resolve the claim and Plaintiff filed an action to recover unreimbursed accident-related medical expenses. The claim was sent to arbitration, where the arbitrator found Plaintiff was entitled to receive about $6,000 but denied Plaintiff’s claim for attorney fees. Plaintiff appealed to the trial court, which upheld the arbitrator’s determination. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that because his complaint sought only unreimbursed medical expenses, Defendant’s dispute about the reasonableness and necessity of some of these expenses raised an issue beyond those permitted under ORS 742.061(3). ORS 742.061(1) allows a plaintiff to recover an award of reasonable attorney fees; subsection (3) provides an exception to subsection (1) in cases where the insurer has accepted coverage and the only issues are the liability of the uninsured motorist and damages due to the insured. After an analysis of the text of the statutes involved, including subsection (2) and clarifying cases, the Court held ORS 742.061(3) does not preclude disputes about individual categories of damages or disputes over some portion of a plaintiff’s injuries because these disputes are ultimately about the amount of plaintiff’s damages as allowed under subsection (3). Affirmed.

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