Oregon Case Law Update: Plaintiff Must Provide Substantiating Information with ORS 20.080 Demand to Recover Attorney Fees

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Oregon Case Update: Plaintiff Must Provide Substantiating Information with ORS 20.080 Demand to Recover Attorney Fees

From the desk of Katie Buxman: An Oregon statute, ORS 20.080, provides for an award of reasonable attorney fees in low-value ($10,000 or less) tort cases if the plaintiff makes a pre-suit written demand, no settlement is reached, and the plaintiff later recovers more than the defendant offered. The demand must comply with specific requirements of the statute, including providing substantiating information that is in the plaintiff’s possession or that is reasonably available to the plaintiff. But when the plaintiff fails to provide that information, who has the burden of proving that the information was not reasonably available to the plaintiff? Read on to find out.

Claims Pointer: In this case arising out of a multiple-car collision, the Court of Appeals held that the plaintiff was not entitled to an award of attorney fees because she did not provide any substantiating information in her pre-suit demand letter, nor did she demonstrate that the information was not reasonably available to her. The court also made it clear that it was the plaintiff’s burden to show that she complied with the statutory requirements. The case provides important clarity on the plaintiff’s burden of proof in ORS 20.080 cases.

Alsaedi v. Conroy, 285 Or App 95 (April 26, 2017)

Rayaheen Alsaedi (“Alsaedi”) was involved in a multiple-car accident on January 18, 2014. On January 28, 2014, the insurer of one of the defendants prepared an estimate of the cost to repair plaintiff’s car. On February 26, 2014, Alsaedi’s attorney sent a demand letter to defendant Roger Conroy and his insurer. The letter simply demanded payment of $10,000 in “damages” that resulted from the collision. The letter also indicated that the demand was made pursuant to ORS 20.080. Alsaedi’s attorney then sent identical demand letters to the other defendants and their...

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