Olson and Olson

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Attorney Fees
  • Date Filed: 01-21-2021
  • Case #: A170593
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: DeHoog, P.J. for the Court; Aoyagi, J.; & Kamins, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The phrase “reasonably incurred” as used in ORS 107.105(1)(j) is intended to qualify only “costs and expenses.” Therefore, an award of attorney fees under that provision is not limited to fees actually incurred.

Husband appealed from a supplemental judgment that was entered after a general judgment of dissolution and that awarded wife attorney fees. At trial, wife was represented by an attorney from a legal clinic who charged wife for 80 hours of work at a rate of $60 per hour. In his petition for attorney fees, wife’s counsel requested fees for 80 hours at a rate of $240 per hour, “the rate customarily charged by practitioners in the Portland metropolitan area with his level of experience.” The court awarded $9,600, approximately half of the requested fees. On appeal, husband argued that “the trial court committed legal error in awarding wife attorney fees in an amount that exceeded the amount that wife actually incurred.” ORS 107.105(1)(j) authorizes a court to make an award of “reasonable attorney fees and costs and expenses reasonably incurred in the action in favor of a party or in favor of a party’s attorney.” (Emphasis added.) Husband argues that “authorized fees be ‘reasonably’—and actually—'incurred.’” The court acknowledged this as “a plausible interpretation of the relevant statutory provision,” but concluded that another interpretation is “somewhat more plausible—that the phrase ‘reasonably incurred’ modifies only ‘costs and expenses.’” The court rejected husband’s contention that “an award of attorney fees under ORS 107.105(1)(j) is limited to fees actually incurred” and thus concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. Affirmed.

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