FLORIDA LAW WEEKLY
VOLUME 39, NUMBER 6
CASES FROM THE WEEK OF FEB.7, 2014
A PARTY MAY ONLY RECOVER ATTORNEY’S FEES FOR CLAIMS THAT PROVIDE FOR SUCH AN AWARD BY CONTRACT OR STATUTE–NOT NECESSARY TO REQUIRE ALL ATTORNEYS WHO PERFORMED WORK TO TESTIFY AT FEE HEARING PERSONALLY, WHEN SUPERVISING ATTORNEYS WITH PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OF WORK PERFORMED BY NON-TESTIFYING ATTORNEYS AND STAFF DID TESTIFY
Effective Teleservices, Inc. v. Smith, 39 Fla. L. Weekly D234 (Fla. 4th DCA January 29, 2014):A party seeking attorney’s fees has the burden to allocate them to the issues for which the fees are awardable or to show that the issues were so intertwined that allocation is not feasible. Claims are inextricably intertwined when the determination of the issues in one action would necessarily be dispositive of the issues in another. Neither attorneys’ fees nor costs may be awarded in the absence of an entitling provision in a contract, statute or rule.While an award of attorneys’ fees must be supported by expert evidence including the testimony of the attorney who performed the services, this does not require that every attorney who performed work on the case has to personally appear at the fee hearing. In this case, the supervising attorneys testified and had personal knowledge of the work performed by the non-testifying attorneys and the staff of their billing practices.MOTION SEEKING DISQUALIFICATION BASED ON STATEMENTS INDICATING JUDGE HAD STRONGLY AND DEFINITELY PREJUDGED PETITIONER’S CREDIBILITY IN AN UNFAVORABLE FASHION, SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED
Cummings v. Montalvo, 39 Fla. L. Weekly D257 (Fla. 5th DCA February 3, 2014):
While the case contains no facts, it does state that the petitioner had alleged facts that would create in a reasonably prudent person a well-founded fear of not receiving a fair and impartial trial. Those facts caused the appellate court to quash the order denying the motion to disqualify.
FIRST DISTRICT GRANTS DISQUALIFICATION AGAINST PLAINTIFF’S LAW FIRM WHO HIRED ONE OF THE DEFENSE LAWYERS DURING THE POST-TRIAL MOTION PHASE OF A CASE, AND ALLOWED THE ATTORNEY TO PARTICIPATE FULLY IN THE PROCEEDINGS
Rombola v. Botchey, 39 Fla. L. Weekly D263 (Fla. 1st DCA February 4, 2014):
After litigating a case to a $1.2 million dollar verdict, the plaintiff’s lawyer hired one of the two defense lawyers who defended the case. He then had that lawyer appear during the post-trial motion phase. The defendants moved to disqualify, and the trial court entered an order prohibiting the plaintiff from participating in any additional trial matters.
The First District quashed that order. It found that obtaining confidential client information, switching sides in an ongoing lawsuit, and then filing a legal response against the former client over its objections, is worthy of the strongest protection of the abandoned client’s interests. It was therefore incumbent on the trial court to disqualify the attorney and his new law firm from the entire lawsuit, notwithstanding that the case was by then on appeal.
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