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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Money

Today, in Salem, the Special Master Henry Breithaupt, will hear fee motions filed in the Strunk/Sartain case. For those wondering what this is about, the Supreme Court did not award legal expenses to the "winners" in the Strunk Case - the PERS Coalition on the "rate guarantee" matter for Tier 1 members, and the OPRI Plaintiff Sartain in the COLA freeze matter. Now, 18 months after the court issued its ruling, the Supreme Court has directed Judge Breithaupt to collect motions and evidence and hear the appeals of the attorneys for the PERS Coalition and for OPRI present their arguments in support of recovering legal expenses in the cases. I'm not sure what amount the PERS Coalition will claim, but I know that OPRI's legal defense fund is claiming expenses in excess of $300,000. The Supreme Court finally ruled (a few months ago) that these plaintiffs are entitled to recovery of some (all?) legal fees BUT has referred the determination of the appropriate amount to a Special Master's recommendation. (THIS Supreme Court really seems to like punting to Special Masters instead of "just doing it").

This strikes me as another example of this court's lockstep politicization. Instead of providing clear and unambiguous guidance, it provides ambiguous rulings that the losers are free to ignore and the winners are forced to take additional legal action to get enforced. Even the unambiguous rulings are ignored at will or trumped by sleasy backroom deals that seem only marginally, if that, legal. To add insult to injury, even when the Court issues a clear ruling - the plaintiffs are entitled to legal fees - it makes the parties go through yet another special master and incur more legal expenses just to get some determination of *what* fees are to be awarded. I *suppose* that if the Special Master decided to award $1 to both the PERS Coalition and to OPRI, it would meet the Supreme Court's mandate. Some justice, eh?

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