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Can I recover my legal fees when I was sued for false reasons? I paid my attorney over $5,000.00 to get the case dismissed.

Evans, GA |

I was sued in Georgia Superior Court by my neighbor's wife for $ 40 , 000 . 00 in home repairs that she felt I was responsible for . My attorney filed a motion for summary judgment and the lawsuit was dismissed ; and , that all costs be taxed against the plaintiff . There are multiple reasons this was frivolous litigation , but it was dismissed b / c the wife is not the owner of the house . She is not on the deed , only her husband , and he is not on the lawsuit . The house was abandoned for 7 yrs and the door rotted and fell off . Many young kids were playing in there . I called the police to secure the property b / c I was concerned a child was going to get hurt . Because I told the police my 12 yr old son had been inside with the other kids , I was sued for repairs on the neglected house .

Attorney Answers 6


  1. Best answer

    The prevailing party is not entitled to attorney fees unless provided for by contract or by a specific state or federal statute.

    The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.


  2. It is unusual to receive fees in you situation, even if it was a frivolous case, but the person you should be asking is your lawyer (and the question should have been asked before the conclusion of the case, if it has been concluded) .


  3. You need to have a heart to heart talk with your attorney about this. Georgia generally follows the "American Rule" which means that typically each side pays its own attorney. So it would be a rare exception for you to get attorneys fees awarded.

    If you were going to seek to recover your attorney fees, that is something that should have been planned on from the beginning. Because to get fees, you do not need to merely win, you need to win in a fashion that makes clear to the judge how frivolous the case against you was. Pursuing the case in that fashion actually takes more attorneys fees. So you would have to gamble the increased fees against the chance that judge judge would not think the plaintiff's case was "frivolous" enough. A lot of judges believe that everyone deserves their day in court and will be unwilling to penalize someone for filing suit.

    Skaar & Feagle, LLP maintains offices in Marietta (770 427 5600) and Decatur (404 373 1970), Georgia. The information ("the answer") provided above is for general information and educational purposes only. The answer should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Posting the question and reviewing the answer does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. My firm will ask you to sign a written contract prior to the commencement of representation in any attorney-client relationship. Please contact 770 427 5600 or 404 373 1970, if you wish to discuss your situation further. Skaar & Feagle, LLP accepts select consumer rights cases. These cases include, but are not limited to, cases of abusive and unlawful collection activity, debt defense, credit reporting of false or obsolete (old) information, high interest lenders (title pawns, payday loans), debt management plans, and fraud or unfair practices in the sale and financing of automobiles.


  4. Talk to a local lawyer to see if you can prove a malicious prosecution claim. They are difficult but sometmes successful.


  5. You did not state when your case was concluded by OCGA 9-15-14 allows you to file a motion for attorney fees up to 45 days after final disposition of the action. The other attorneys are correct in that your attorney should have discussed this with you and the chances of getting the fees are not too great, and if you spent $5,000 to get a $40,000 case out on summary judgment it seems like your attorney did a good job. However, if a case is in fact without a factual or legal absence of a justiciable issue and it is properly presented you can in fact get attorney fees. Ask your attorney if its too late to file the motion.

    This is not intended to create an attorney client relationship and none is to be implied either. You must contact an attorney and present all facts before you can and should act on this response


  6. You can file a claim for abuse of process and collect not only your attorneys fees, but incidental costs, mental distress damages, and punitive damages.

    Generally, any person who takes an active part in the initiation, continuation, or procurement of civil proceedings against another
    is liable for abusive litigation, if the person acts with malice and without substantial justification.

    Essentially, because your neighbor had no real basis to assert a claim, if you can prove she knew this and sued anyway out of spite or to "shake you down," you can recover from her your compensatory damages (attorneys fees, costs), the cost of your stress and personal heartache (mental distress damages), and the court can punish her and let a jury award punitive damages.

    A few notes for others: I use this strategy to recover compensation against credit card companies that file frivolous claims on old debts against my clients. It is designed to prevent their frivolous lawsuits. Also, mental distress and punitive damages are often awarded by juries: an experienced litigation attorney is essential for such a claim.

    Answers to questions does not create an attorney/client relationship. I only am your attorney if I have entered into a written contract, signed by me, wherein I expressly assent to be your attorney. Nothing I post should be construed as legal advice to be acted upon, it is merely a legal opinion.