The late Dorothy English wins major landowner rights decision

By Oregonians In Action,

Today, the Oregon Court of Appeals entered a judgment for nearly $195,000 to the estate of Dorothy English. This judgment represents the attorney fees and costs which Dorothy incurred in fighting her case against Multnomah County at the Oregon Court of Appeals. In an earlier decision, the Oregon Court of Appeals had awarded Dorothy’s estate $1,150,000 in compensation against Multnomah County, and also found that the estate was entitled to the attorney fees and costs incurred in fighting the Measure 37 claim in Multnomah County Circuit Court. These fees and costs are expected to exceed $300,000.

In sum, Multnomah County will be paying Dorothy’s estate in excess of $2,000,000 as a result of their decision to make her life miserable and fight every court ruling they lost. That’s what you get for being unreasonable. Here’s how the Court of Appeals summarized Dorothy’s case:

“We emphasize, finally, that, although the services rendered by English’s attorneys were extremely intensive – indeed, exhaustive – their efforts were necessitated by the county’s obdurate refusal to satisfy the just compensation judgment that had been rendered final by the county’s dismissal of its own appeal from that judgment. It is not unfair to say that this became a war of attrition that should never have had to have been fought.

In sum, the county’s conduct has protracted this litigation, and created additional work in a case that required prompt resolution due to English’s advanced age and ultimately, after her death during the pendency of this appeal, the substitution of the personal representative of her estate as the real party in interest. In the end, English obtained a result that she accurately describes as ‘ensuring recovery of $1.15 million, a complete victory.” (citations to ORS provisions omitted).

Rarely does a court use words like these to describe a party’s conduct in a lawsuit, but Multnomah County made it a point to fight Dorothy at every step of the way, and now the chickens are coming home to roost. This case is near its end, and Multnomah County should cut its losses, pay its debt, and apologize to Dorothy’s family for the way their employees have behaved.

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