Can I appeal the judges ruling not to award attorney fees to plaintiff when i won case? When judge didnt listen to all the facts

Asked 8 months ago - Winter Park, FL

I sued a person and the defendant changed defense over and over. The defendant admitted in deposition that the car in question was bought for plaintiff. We filed a summary judgement and judge said no because defendant claimed we owed her money . That never came up again in defendants answers . they dragged it on with new defenses for another year . In final papers before trail she claimed she was sole driver of car and was always meant to be hers. Then at motions immediately before trail said that everyone in house was driving the car and changed defense yet again. The judge then reconsider and awarded the final judgement filed a year ago. We filed for attorney fees from the time the first final summery was filed and judge didnt listen to all the facts and ruled against us .

Additional information

the case dragged on for 2 years and the defendants made costs go up and up because we had to ask 3 and 4 times for answers to running the bill to attorney up and up . Now im stuck paying almost 20,000 dollars for this case which is more then car is now worth since she had it for 2 yrs of course value dropped. the car was brand new when we purchased it and was in mint condition when defendant took off and hid with it . The car was 1 yr old when she took it . Plus she ruined the paint on car by hiding it under a pine tree and car was cover in sap and baked on for 2 years. The judge made another snap decision without hearing all the facts, Seminole county. The defendant and her lawyer lied over and over which is obvious in the 10 completely different answers to filed answers contradicting the last answer .

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Robert P Garven

    Contributor Level 17

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . There's a limited time in which to file an appeal. A judgment that was entered a year ago is not subject to appeal.

  2. Thomas Andrew Player

    Contributor Level 7

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Generally under Florida law attorney fees are only available to a prevailing party if provided for by contract or by statute. Statutes that award attorney fees are in derogation of the common law, which requires each party to bear their own attorney fees, and therefore must be strictly construed. Further, the claim for attorney fees must be pled to be recoverable, and a motion to tax attorney fees and costs must be filed within 30 days of rendition of the final judgment. I cannot tell from your facts if any fee-shifting statute would apply, but what you have described sounds like an action for replevin, which does allow for prevailing party attorney fees under certain very limited circumstances. I also cannot tell if there was a written contract between the parties that included a prevailing party attorney fee provision, but from your description of the litigation I gather that is not the case. Alternatively, there are a couple of procedural methods that may allow for fees. First, if a particular claim or defense that is asserted is without merit, then a motion for sanctions could have been filed under Florida Statute 57.105. If the meritless claim or defense is not withdrawn within 21 days of the motion, then the court would have discretion to award attorney fees for responding to that claim or defense as a sanction. Second, during the litigation a party can serve a Proposal for Settlement/ Offer of Judgment offering to resolve the matter for a certain amount. If the party receiving the PFS rejects it, and then does not ultimately recover at least 75% of the offer, or on the flip side, beats an offer by more than 25%, then the court can award fees to the party that served the PFS. If you were represented by competent counsel for this action, they should have been aware of all of this and exhausted all possible avenues to recovery of your fees. If the final judgment has been entered, you have ten days to file a motion for rehearing to ask the court to revisit the fee issue if the judge overlooked or misapprehended certain facts or law. The motion for rehearing tolls the thirty-day time limit for filing a notice of appeal until the motion for rehearing is ruled on. If rehearing is denied you can then appeal the denial of attorney fees if there is a legal basis to do so.

  3. Rixon Charles Rafter III

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . No reason for the judge to listen to all the facts if a particular rule of civil procedure has been violated. I wasn't able to make heads or tails in terms of timeline of events from your post and much would turn on knowing the timing. Chat with a local attorney ASAP to determine if you have any remaining options (which seems unlikely).

    As a general rule (called the American Rule) each litigant pays for his/her own attorney fees.

    NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. DO NOT RELY ON ANY ADVICE YOU RECEIVE FROM ME OR ANY OTHER... more

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