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Bridge City Family Medical Clinic, P.C. v. Kent & Johnson, LLP

Court of Appeals of Oregon
346 P.3d 658 (2015)


Facts

Kent & Johnson, LLP (defendant) represented Bridge City Family Medical Clinic, P.C. (Bridge City) (plaintiff) in an arbitration. Bridge City believed Kent & Johnson had committed malpractice during the arbitration. Bridge City emailed the firm’s malpractice insurer, the Professional Liability Fund (PLF) to discuss the claim and “the option of a settlement.” PLF wrote back asking Bridge City to “make a specific proposal.” Bridge City wrote that it was “willing to settle this and move on for $40,000.” PLF countered by offering: (1) to pay Bridge City $10,000 in exchange for a release and (2) to have Kent & Johnson release a $5,500 claim against Bridge City for unpaid expenses. Bridge City responded that it would “settle this matter immediately for $20,000.” PLF countered with an offer similar to its prior offer, only it increased the payment to $13,500. Bridge City responded by asserting its belief that Kent & Johnson’s $5,500 claim had already been released and stating that it was “willing to settle for $19,000.” PLF wrote back offering to pay $15,000 on the same terms as before. Bridge City responded that it continued “to be willing to settle this for $19,000.” PLF then sent a letter agreeing to pay Bridge City $19,000. PLF said that the check would be given to Bridge City once it had signed a mutual release of the parties’ claims against each other. Bridge City did not sign the mutual release, instead suing Kent & Johnson in court for malpractice. The trial court dismissed the claim, finding that the parties had already reached a binding settlement agreement. Bridge City appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Garrett, J.)

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