Shrader Law, PLLC is one of the few Florida law firms that has focused on both pursuing and defending prevailing party attorneys’ fee litigation on behalf of other firms and their clients. The first question that must be answered is does the losing party have to pay the winning party’s attorneys’ fees? In most cases, the answer is no. The commonly cited “American Rule” regarding attorneys’ fees generally maintains that each party is responsible for paying their own attorney’s fees.
However, there are exceptions. Florida’s decisions regarding recovering attorneys’ fees involve contractual agreements, public policies, and statutes. Some contracts have an attorney fee provision which states that a prevailing party is entitled to fees. In some cases, a statute may allow attorneys’ fees to any prevailing party, or to a prevailing party under certain circumstances. At Shrader Law, we are frequently contacted by other attorneys to help either pursue or defend motions for attorneys’ fees. A motion for attorneys’ fees will involve two points:
A court may deny attorneys’ fees if the plaintiff does not present evidence that the attorneys’ fees are reasonable. When an attorney is awarded fees, they must consult with another lawyer — an expert on reasonable fees — to provide an opinion on what is reasonable, as far as the hours spent and rates charged.
Florida Statutes § 57.105 is frequently referenced in discussions about attorneys’ fees. Parties may seek fees under this statute if the other side forced them to fight a frivolous claim. A successful 57.105 motion requires a determination by the judge that “the party or its counsel knew or should have known that the claim or defense asserted was not supported by the facts or an application of existing law.” Generally, a specific finding of bad faith is necessary. If the court grants the motion, it may be reviewable.
If you have questions about recovering attorneys’ fees in a Florida case, contact Shrader Law, PLLC, at 813-701-5038. Our Tampa fee recovery lawyers are experts in fee recovery and interpretation of fee clauses.