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Landlord filed an eviction.  Tenant’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss.  Landlord filed a voluntary dismissal.  The court ruled that upon a voluntary dismissal  by landlord,  tenant is the prevailing party and thus entitled to recover reasonable attorneys fees and costs.

At the hearing on fees on costs  the court determined that the tenant’s attorney had taken on the case strictly on contingency fee, and that with a 50% probability of success was entitled to a fee multiplier of two.   The court noted that there are only a few attorneys who represent tenants, and that the only way to entice more attorneys to represent tenants is to award contingent fee multipliers, and that the tenant could not otherwise afford to hire an attorney.

The expert testified that:

a. that the relevant market (Orange, Seminole, and Osceola Counties) requires a contingency fee multiplier to ensure that tenants be able to obtain competent counsel.

b. that based on the nature of tenant defense work the defense attorney is rarely able to mitigate the risk of non-payment and the attorney was unable to do so in this case; and

c. That other factors set forth in Florida Patient’s Compensation Fund v. Rowe, 472 So. 2d 1145 (Fla. 1985) are applicable, especially, “the amount involved (in this case possession of the property), the result obtained (a dismissal), and the fee arrangement with the client (pure contingency).

Three hundred dollars per hour was deemed a reasonable hourly fee, and 5.8  hours were found to have been expended.  Further Tenant’s witness on attorneys fees charged $375/hour for two hours.    Total  fee awarded to tenant $4230.00.

BANEZ, vs. BANEZ, County Court, 9th Judicial Circuit in and for Orange County. Case No. 2012-CC-015710-O. February 13, 2013. Adam McGinnis, Judge.  20 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 513a.

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