STATE ex rel. DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION v. CARTER

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STATE ex rel. DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION v. CARTER
2005 OK 7
107 P.3d 593
Case Number: 98512
Decided: 02/08/2005

THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA

STATE OF OKLAHOMA, ex rel., DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Plaintiff/Appellant,
v.
W.H. CARTER aka HENRY CARTER & NANNIE CARTER, husband and wife, and LORETTA CARTER, Defendants/Appellee,

ON CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS, DIVISION III

¶0 Landowners prevailed in appeal brought by Oklahoma Department of Transportation from order of the District Court of Cherokee County, Hon. Mark L. Dobbins, requiring Department to pay post-judgment interest on award of attorney fees in favor of landowners. The Court of Civil Appeals denied landowners' application for appeal-related attorney fees and they seek certiorari to review that order.

CERTIORARI PREVIOUSLY GRANTED;
ORDER OF THE COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS VACATED;
CAUSE REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS

Thomas Jot Hartley, THE HARTLEY LAW FIRM, PLLC, Vinita, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff/Appellant,
Tim K. Baker, TIM K. BAKER & ASSOCIATE, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, for Defendant/Appellees.

EDMONDSON, J.

¶1 Appellees, W.H., Nannie and Loretta Carter, (collectively the Carters), seek certiorari from the Court of Civil Appeals' order denying their application for appeal-related attorney fees. The Carters prevailed in this appeal brought by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation from the trial court's award in favor of the Carters for post-judgment interest on costs associated with their jury verdict. Certiorari was previously granted and we find in favor of the Carters. We vacate the order of the Court of Civil Appeals and remand the matter to the trial court for hearing to determine the amount of the fees.

¶2 The relevant facts underlying this controversy are these. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation commenced an action in condemnation against the Carters in 1998 to acquire their land in connection with a project to widen a highway. The Carters disputed the amount of just compensation determined by the court-appointed commissioners, and, in 2000, a jury trial on the issue was had which resulted in an award for the Carters more than 10% in excess of the award proposed by the commissioners. The Carters then filed an application with the trial court for attorney fees, appraisal fees and expert witness fees pursuant to

¶3 The trial court ruled in favor of the Carters and awarded the fees. The Department appealed and the Court of Civil Appeals, Div. II, affirmed that judgment in State of Oklahoma, ex rel. Department of Transportation v. Carter, No. 95,642 (June 18, 2002)(unpublished opinion, cert. denied). The Department then paid the fees to the Carters but refused to pay post-judgment interest on the award and the Carters then filed a motion before the trial court to require such payment. The trial court granted their motion and the Department appealed that award in the instant matter.

¶4 The Department was again unsuccessful on appeal. The Court of Civil Appeals, Div. No. III, ruled in favor of the Carters and affirmed the award, finding the Department had a statutory obligation under

¶5 A party who prevails in litigation is generally not entitled to recover an attorney fee from the losing party unless it is otherwise provided by statute or contract. Adams v. Unterkircher,

¶6 Whenever there is statutory authority, such as in this case, to award attorney fees in the trial of a matter, the prevailing party may be awarded additional fees for additional legal services rendered in the appellate court. Sisney v. Smalley,

¶7 Relying on Sisney v. Smalley, supra, we held in Oklahoma Turnpike Authority v. New,

¶8 Liability for post-judgment interest is established by

Except as otherwise provided by this section, all judgments of courts of record, including costs and attorney fees authorized by statute or otherwise and allowed by the court, shall bear interest at a rate prescribed pursuant to this section. 12 O.S. 2001, § 727.A.1.

¶9 The statute additionally sets forth the details necessary to determine the applicable interest rate and to calculate the amount of post-judgment interest, to which we hold the Carters are entitled. To the extent that McAlester Urban Renewal Auth. v. Hamilton,

¶10 Accordingly, we vacate the order of the Court of Civil Appeals. We grant the Carters' application for appeal-related attorney fees. Following the issuance of mandate, the trial court is authorized to conduct an adversary hearing to determine the amount of that fee and to assess it against the Department of Transportation.