Lawrence v. Bailey, A164753

Decision Date04 December 2019
Docket NumberA164753
Citation454 P.3d 16,301 Or.App. 159
Parties Daylen LAWRENCE, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Amber BAILEY, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtOregon Court of Appeals

Jonathan Henderson, Portland, argued the cause for appellant. Also on the briefs were Carl R. Rodrigues and Davis Rothwell Earle & Xóchihua, P. C.

Willard E. Merkel, Portland, argued the cause for respondent. Also on the brief was Merkel & Associates.

Before DeHoog, Presiding Judge, and Aoyagi, Judge, and Hadlock, Judge pro tempore.

HADLOCK, J. pro tempore Defendant moved under ORCP 71 B(1)(e) for relief from a judgment, contending that the judgment had been satisfied. The trial court denied the motion on the ground that it was an impermissible motion for reconsideration. Defendant appeals from both the underlying judgment and the order denying her ORCP 71 B(1)(e) motion. For the reasons set out below, we conclude that the trial court erred when it determined that defendant’s motion impermissibly sought reconsideration of an earlier ruling. Accordingly, we reverse and remand.

The pertinent facts are procedural and undisputed. This is the second appeal arising from tort litigation related to a motor vehicle accident in which plaintiff was injured. As we explained in the first appeal, after plaintiff filed a civil action in circuit court, the parties agreed to submit the claim to binding arbitration. Lawrence v. Bailey , 279 Or. App. 356, 357, 379 P.3d 863 (2016) ( Lawrence I ). The arbitrator ultimately awarded plaintiff a total of $9,074.50, including $2,324.00 in medical expenses, and stated that it was his intent that any amount that had been paid by insurance would be paid only "one time." Id . at 358, 379 P.3d 863. Following a proceeding to confirm the award, the circuit court entered a judgment for $6,944.50, reflecting a $2,130.00 credit for payment that defendant asserted her insurer had made to plaintiff’s health care providers. Id . at 359-61, 379 P.3d 863. On plaintiff’s appeal, we held that the arbitration award "recognized that defendant was entitled to a credit for medical expenses that she had paid to plaintiff’s health care providers," although the arbitrator "did not establish the amount of that credit anywhere in the award." Id . at 362, 379 P.3d 863. Because the arbitrator had not established the amount of the credit to which defendant was entitled, we explained, the circuit court "should have entered an order and judgment that reflects all that the arbitrator actually decided and only that—i.e. , plaintiff had damages of $9,074.50 and defendant was entitled to a credit for medical expenses that her insurer had already paid." Id . at 363, 379 P.3d 863. We reversed and remanded for entry of a judgment so stating. In doing so, we observed that processes remained available for determining the amount of the credit:

"To the extent that leaves open the issue of the amount of credit to which defendant is entitled, satisfaction and enforceability of the judgment may be affected, and presumably any future dispute as to whether defendant has satisfied that judgment can be dealt with in the proceedings provided for enforcement of a judgment in a civil proceeding. See ORS 36.715 (judgment confirming an arbitration award may be ‘enforced as any other judgment in a civil action’)."

Id .

On remand, the parties submitted competing proposed forms of judgment. Before any new judgment was entered, defendant moved in February 2017 for a satisfaction of judgment, based on her assertions that her insurer had paid plaintiff’s health care providers $2,130.00 in 2012 and that defendant had subsequently paid the remaining $6,944.50, which had resulted in entry of a partial satisfaction of judgment in 2015. Defendant accordingly sought an order recognizing full satisfaction of the judgment. As authority for that motion, defendant cited former ORS 18.410 (1995), repealed by Or. Laws 2003, ch. 576, § 580, which she described as the statute that "sets out the procedure for the court to determine if a judgment has been satisfied or, if not satisfied, to determine the payment needed to fully satisfy a judgment."

At a March 2017 hearing on defendant’s motion and the proposed forms of judgment, plaintiff argued that there could not be "satisfaction of a judgment that hasn’t been entered." Plaintiff also pointed out that former ORS 18.410 (1995) had been repealed. In addition, she asserted that the attachments to defendant’s motion (which consisted largely of correspondence between the parties’ lawyers) did not amount to evidence of the amount that defendant’s insurer had paid. The trial court denied defendant’s motion and ultimately, in keeping with our holding in Lawrence I , entered a judgment that included a money award in the amount of $9,074.50 and stated that defendant "shall be entitled to a credit against said judgment in a sum equal to the amount to be determined to have been paid by her insurer *** in reimbursement for medical expenses."

At the end of the hearing, defendant sought to clarify the reason that the trial court was denying her motion for satisfaction of judgment and, in doing so, expressed her understanding that the "motion for satisfaction of judgment under the current procedural posture of this case is denied." (Emphasis added.) The trial court stated, "That’s correct." The court added that it was denying the motion "for a host of reasons, including what’s in the language of the opinion"—apparently referring to Lawrence I , which the parties and court had been discussing—"and the function of the Court at this time under Oregon law." (Emphasis added.) Thus, the court appears to have believed that Lawrence I limited its authority, at that time, to entering the judgment and that it could not then also enter a satisfaction of judgment. The court entered the judgment in March 2017.

Defendant filed a notice of appeal from that judgment and, in May 2017, moved for relief from the judgment under ORCP 71 B(1)(e) on the ground that the judgment had been satisfied.1 Defendant supported her ORCP 71 B(1)(e)motion with evidence, including a copy of the check that had been tendered by defendant’s insurer and endorsed by plaintiff’s health care provider. Plaintiff opposed the motion solely on the ground that it was an impermissible motion for reconsideration and therefore prohibited under Multnomah County Supplementary Local Rule (SLR) 5.045(1), which provides, in part: "No Motion for Reconsideration on any pre-trial, trial, or post-trial civil or criminal matter shall be heard, reviewed, or considered by any judge ***." Plaintiff asserted that the trial court, having previously rejected defendant’s February 2017 motion for satisfaction of judgment, had no authority to reconsider that ruling. In reply, defendant asserted that her ORCP 71 B(1)(e) motion was not a motion for reconsideration. Even if it was, however, defendant argued that it was permissible under Multnomah County SLR 5.045(2), which states that the general prohibition on motions for reconsideration does not apply "to any statutory motion to modify, set aside, vacate, suppress, or rescind." The trial court heard argument on the motion in June 2017 and denied the motion "[f]or the reasons set forth in plaintiff’s memorandum."

On appeal from the resulting order, defendant assigns error to the trial court’s denial of her ORCP 71 B(1)(e) motion, reiterating her arguments that the motion was not barred by Multnomah County SLR 5.045. Plaintiff makes two arguments in response. First, she contends that we lack jurisdiction over defendant’s appeal from the trial court’s post-judgment order denying defendant’s ORCP 71 B(1)(e) motion because that order did not "affect[ ] a substantial right" of defendant so as to make it appealable under ORS 19.205(3). Second, plaintiff argues that, if we do have jurisdiction, we should affirm on the ground that the trial court correctly determined that defendant’s ORCP 71 B(1)(e) motion was a motion for reconsideration disallowed under Multnomah County SLR 5.045 because the ORCP 71 B motion sought relief identical to that which defendant had sought in her earlier motion for an order reflecting satisfaction of judgment.

We begin by addressing, and rejecting, plaintiff’s contention that we lack jurisdiction over the appeal from the post-judgment order denying defendant’s ORCP 71 B(1)(e) motion. ORS 19.205(3) provides that an order that is entered after a general judgment is entered is appealable if it "affects a substantial right." Here, the judgment entered on remand, in keeping with Lawrence I , observes that defendant "shall be entitled to a credit against said judgment in a sum equal to the amount to be determined to have been paid by her insurer *** in reimbursement for medical expenses." The trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion for relief from that judgment essentially denied defendant the credit to which the judgment states that she is entitled, apparently leaving no further avenue for relief. The order thus affected defendant’s ability to obtain that credit, which is a "substantial right."2 See generally Hoddenpyl v. Fiskum , 281 Or. App. 42, 383 P.3d 432 (2016) (post-judgment order denying an ORCP 71 B(1) motion seeking to set aside a default judgment on ground of excusable neglect was appealable under ORS 19.205(3) ); York v. Paakkonen , 259 Or. App. 276, 278, 313 P.3d 332 (2013) (post-judgment order granting motion for entry of partial satisfaction of judgment was appealable under ORS 19.205(3) ). We have jurisdiction over this appeal.

We turn to the merits. As the parties have framed the issues on appeal, the question before us is whether the trial court erred when it denied defendant’s ORCP 71 B(1)(e) motion on the sole ground on which plaintiff opposed the motion, viz ., that it was a motion for reconsideration that Multnomah County SLR 5.045 precluded the court from considering. We review the trial court’s determination...

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