USA: Clatsop County Seeks Legal Fees from Oregon Pipeline
Clatsop County filed a motion in circuit court Monday seeking reimbursement for more than $60,000 in attorney fees incurred in the legal dispute over the county’s jurisdiction of the Oregon Pipeline LLC land-use application.
The motion claims the county should not be liable for the fees, which total $61,758, due to several legal maneuvers by Oregon Pipeline that resulted in unnecessary delays in the proceedings.
The county and Oregon Pipeline recently went to court on a “writ of mandamus” motion by the company. The motion claimed the county had exceeded the legal deadline for issuing a final decision on the company’s consolidated land-use application for construction of 41 miles of natural gas pipeline.
Following a hearing in Clatsop County Circuit Court last month, Judge Phil Nelson denied Oregon Pipeline’s mandamus motion. The company has appealed that ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals.
The Clatsop County Board of Commissioners originally approved the Oregon Pipeline application in November 2010. That ruling was appealed by project opponents, and in January the board, with three new members, voted to withdraw the November decision, and in March gave preliminary approval to findings denying the application.
The county’s motion seeks the reimbursement under state law allowing a judge to award legal fees to the prevailing party in a mandamus action.
In a letter in support of the county’s motion, attorney Harlan Jones of Jordan Ramis PC of Portland, Clatsop County’s legal counsel for the Oregon Pipeline application, argues that the company’s own actions are the cause of the county’s high legal bills for the mandamus proceedings. The company, Harlan states, waited almost two months to file the mandamus petition, opposed an expedited hearing on its request, and sought a change of venue, among other actions.
“Oregon Pipeline has for quite some time itself been the main cause of unnecessary delay and complexity in this case,” his letter states.
The board of commissioners was scheduled to finalize its denial of the company’s application on March 30, but was blocked by a temporary stay issued by the Oregon Supreme Court on a motion from Oregon Pipeline. The board is awaiting the outcome of the mandamus issue, including the appeal to the Court of Appeals, before taking further action on the application.
Source: Clatsop County, June 22, 2011;