Tenant sued to recover his $650.00 security deposit and $100 pet deposit among other counts and prevailed. His counsel moved to tax attorney’s fees, which was granted. However, the trial then court sua sponte set aside the Final Judgment as to Taxing Attorney’s Fees finding that he had relied on the Small Claims Rules throughout the case, “specifically chose not to file a Chapter 83 County Civil landlord tenant case” and was therefore not able to claim attorney’s fees under Chapter 83. On appeal the denial of attorneys fees by the trial court was reserved.
A post-judgment order denying a party’s claim for attorney’s fees is an appealable final order, even when the order grants costs without determining the amount; thus, we have jurisdiction. Yampol v. Turnberry Isle, 250 So. 3d 835 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018) [43 Fla. L. Weekly D1533a]. A denial of attorney’s fees based on a conclusion of law concerning the interpretation of statute is reviewed de novo. Country Place Community Ass’n v. J.P. Morgan Mortgage Acquisition Corp., 51 So.3d 1176 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010) [36 Fla. L. Weekly D31a].
The Small Claims Rules do not create a separate court; rather, they create a separate set of rules of procedure when the amount in controversy is less than $5,000.00 exclusive of costs and fees. LaSalla v. Pools by George of Pinellas Cty, Inc., 125 So. 3d 1016, 1016 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013) [38 Fla. L. Weekly D1426a]. Thus, an action filed under the Small Claims Rules is a county civil action, and since the complaint in this case specifically pled relief under §§ 83.49 and 83.50 Fla. Stat., Tenant did in fact file a Chapter 83 landlord tenant case. Moreover, nothing in the Small Claims Rules prevents an award of attorney’s fees, so long as they are properly pled. See e.g., Dish Network Service L.L.C. v. Myers, 87 So. 3d 72 (Fla. 2d DCA 2012) [37 Fla. L. Weekly D975a] (prevailing party in small claims suit was entitled to statutory attorney fees, but not travel time or multiplier).
CONFORTI, , v. CARR. Circuit Court, 5th Judicial Circuit (Appellate) in and for Hernando County. 27 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 571a