Oregon Fed. Court Judge Reconsiders Prejudgment Interest and Attorney Fees

We wanted to follow-up on our blog entry of November 20, 2013, concerning the Precision Seed Cleaners v. Country Mutual Ins. Co. matter.  Our prior entry noted that the parties filed competing motions for reconsideration regarding Judge Marco A. Hernandez’s ruling on the issues of attorney fees and prejudgment interest.  Since then, Judge Hernandez issued an opinion on the motions for reconsideration granting the insured’s motion and denying the insurance company’s motion (Precision Seed Cleaners v. Country Mutual Ins. Co., U.S. Dist. Ct., Dist. of Oregon, Case No. 313-cv-001023-HZ (Nov. 21, 2013)).

In the opinion, the court overturned its prior ruling on the issue of prejudgment interest.  In its initial ruling, the court concluded that with respect to portions of the insured’s losses there was not sufficient evidence to establish a basis for award of prejudgment interest.  The insured’s motion for reconsideration argued there was sufficient evidence and requested that the court revise its opinion.  The insurance company cross-moved for reconsideration of the award of prejudgment interest, requesting that the court strike any award of prejudgment interest on the basis that it was “manifestly unjust.”  Judge Hernandez agreed with the insured, finding the evidence was sufficient to establish a basis for prejudgment interest with respect to its losses.  Accordingly, the court revised its prior opinion and awarded additional prejudgment interest.  The effect of the court’s ruling was that the insured was awarded $884,308.42 in prejudgment interest, instead of the $148,671.55 that was initially awarded.

In addition, the court addressed the insurance company’s motion for reconsideration of its decision to award $539,443.20 in attorney fees.  The court indicated that the insurance company argued that the attorney fees award was excessive because (1) the insured sought payment for unrelated litigation matters; (2) the attorney fee award included amounts expended on unsuccessful claims or motions that were not related to the claim that was ultimately successful; and (3) the award included time on unsuccessful claims and an excluded expert.  The court rejected each of the insurance company’s arguments and let the attorney fee award stand.

The insurance company filed a petition for appeal, but later withdrew the petition.  The case has since been dismissed.

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