Recovering Attorney’s Fees “Incurred” on Party’s Behalf
Simply because a defendant does not pay his/her/its own attorney’s fees does not mean the defendant is not entitled to recover attorney’s fees incurred on his/her/its behalf. That wouldn’t seem to make much sense since attorney’s fees would have been incurred on the defendant’s behalf. Who actually writes the check to pay the attorney’s fees is really of no moment, right? Therefore, do not bank your argument that another party will never be entitled to recover their fees because that other party did not personally pay for his/her/its own attorney’s fees.
This was the argument raised in Jain v. Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, 46 Fla. L. Weekly D2575a (Fla. 3d DCA 2021). Here, a defendant served a proposal for settlement during the pendency of the case. A final judgment was rendered for the defendant. The defendant moved for attorney’s fees pursuant to the proposal for settlement. The plaintiff countered that the defendant should not be entitled to fees because the defendant did not personally incur fees given the fact that his company (a law firm) was contractually required to indemnify him, and did indemnify him, with respect to such fees. The trial court did not agree with the plaintiff’s position and attorney’s fees were awarded to the defendant. The Third District Court of Appeals affirmed holding the defendant was entitled to attorney’s fees incurred on the defendant’s behalf (i.e., that another party/person may have paid). See Jain citing & quoting Key West Seaside, LLC v. Certified Lower Keys Plumbing, Inc., 208 So.3d 718 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015) (“‘The fact that another party or a nonparty may have paid the offeror’s attorney’s fees is of no consequence to the question of whether the offeror is entitled to fees and costs pursuant to the offer of judgment statute or rule.’”).
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