Opinion:Suburban Realty Co. v. Cantley, 2021 OK CIV APP 27
Subject matter:Attorney Fees
Date Decided:May 27, 2021; Mandate Issued June 30, 2021.
Trial Court:District Court of Tulsa County; Judge Sellers
Route to this Court:Appeal of trial court’s denial of attorney fees; Assigned to COCA, Division II.
Facts:For factual background on the underlying dispute, see summary of 2021 OK CIV APP 23.
Following a decision in its favor on the merits, Plaintiff/Appellant applied to assess attorney fees and costs on the Defendants/Appellees under 60 O.S.2011 § 856. The trial court denied Suburban’s application and Suburban appeals. 
Standard of Review:De novo
Analysis:“The controlling principle in determining whether a statute authorizing attorney fees applies to a particular proceeding is ‘the underlying nature of the suit’” TXO Prod. Corp. v. Stanton, 1985 OK 57. “The Supreme Court has instructed that ‘attorney fees may only be awarded if the case ‘falls clearly within the express language of the authorizing statute.’” Id. Strict construction is required when applying statutes authorizing attorney fees and exceptions to the American Rule are created only with great caution so as not to create chilling effects on open access to the courts.
Plaintiff’s action to reform a Deed of Dedication of a plat based on mistake is not an action to enforce a restriction or covenant of the real estate development as provided in 60 O.S.2011 § 856.
Vote:Wiseman, J. (author), Barnes, J. and Hixon, J. (sitting by designation), concur.
Other: Companion case with 2021 OK CIV APP 23.