Kiryuta v. Country Preferred Ins. Co.Annotate this Case
Plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident and filed a claim for underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits with defendant Country Preferred Insurance. The insurer submitted a letter that satisfied the attorney fee safe harbor requirements of ORS 742.061(3). The case was arbitrated, and plaintiff prevailed and was awarded attorney fees. Defendant filed exceptions to the fee award in the circuit court, and the court concluded that defendant’s safe harbor letter precluded the award of fees. Plaintiff appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that defendant was ineligible for the protection of the attorney fee safe harbor because, in arbitration, in its answer to plaintiff’s complaint, defendant had raised issues in addition to the liability of the underinsured motorist and the damages due to plaintiff. On review, the Oregon Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals that defendant was not entitled to the protection of ORS 742.061(3), and affirmed the award of reasonable attorney fees.