555 So.2d 828 (Fla. 1990), 72100, Standard Guar. Ins. Co. v. Quanstrom

Docket Nº72100.
Citation555 So.2d 828, 15 Fla. L. Weekly S 23
Party NameSTANDARD GUARANTY INSURANCE CO., Petitioner, v. Brenda L. QUANSTROM, Respondent.
Case DateJanuary 11, 1990
CourtSupreme Court of Florida

Page 828

555 So.2d 828 (Fla. 1990)

15 Fla. L. Weekly S 23

STANDARD GUARANTY INSURANCE CO., Petitioner,

v.

Brenda L. QUANSTROM, Respondent.

No. 72100.

Supreme Court of Florida.

January 11, 1990

Page 829

Lora A. Dunlap of Fisher, Rushmer, Werrenrath, Keiner, Wack & Dickson, P.A., Orlando, for petitioner.

Stephan W. Carter of Martinez, Dalton & Provencher, P.A., Orlando, for respondent.

Sharon Lee Stedman of Rumberger, Kirk, Caldwell, Cabaniss, Burke & Wechsler, Orlando, amicus curiae for Reliance Ins. Co.

OVERTON, Justice.

We have for review Quanstrom v. Standard Guaranty Insurance Co., 519 So.2d 1135 (Fla. 5th DCA 1988), in which the Fifth District Court of Appeal acknowledged conflict with the Third District Court of Appeal's decision in Travelers Indemnity Co. v. Sotolongo, 513 So.2d 1384 (Fla. 3d DCA 1987). We agree that there is conflict. 1 The question in this cause concerns the setting of a reasonable attorney's fee under the lodestar approach and requires a determination of whether a contingency fee multiplier must be utilized when determining the appropriate attorney's fee to be paid to a prevailing insured pursuant to section 627.428, Florida Statutes (1987). 2 We find it necessary to reexamine our decision in Florida Patient's Compensation Fund v. Rowe, 472 So.2d 1145 (Fla.1985), in view of the recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court in Blanchard v. Bergeron, 489 U.S. 87, 109 S.Ct. 939, 103 L.Ed.2d 67 (1989), and Pennsylvania v. Delaware Valley Citizens' Council for Clean Air, 483 U.S. 711, 107 S.Ct. 3078, 97 L.Ed.2d 585 (1987), which effectively eliminated the use of contingency fee multipliers in computing fees under the lodestar approach. Further, we find it necessary to clarify our opinion in Rowe concerning its application under the various types of fee-authorizing statutes. We find that this cause should be remanded to the trial court for consideration of whether a multiplier is applicable. We disapprove the district court's decision but approve the result.

The material facts are not in dispute. In its prior decision on the merits, reported as Quanstrom v. Standard Guaranty Insurance Co., 504 So.2d 1295 (Fla. 5th DCA 1987), the Fifth District Court of Appeal set forth the following relevant facts:

[Quanstrom] owned a 1976 Chevrolet Vega motor vehicle on which PIP insurance expired in July of 1984 but which she continued to drive until January, 1985, when the clutch cable broke and the vehicle became incapable of functioning. The vehicle's registration expired on February 17, 1985, and the vehicle was not operated or driven on the roads of this state until it was repaired on March 25, 1985, and [Quanstrom] reregistered and reinsured it on April 25, 1985. However, on March 9, 1985, [Quanstrom] sustained bodily injuries while riding as a passenger in a vehicle owned by [Terry Nelson] and insured by [Standard Guaranty Insurance Company] for personal injury protection (PIP) benefits under section 627.736(4)(d)4., Florida Statutes.

Id. at 1296. Quanstrom sought to recover $2,066.04 in PIP benefits from Nelson's insurer, Standard Guaranty Insurance Company. Standard Guaranty rejected her claim, asserting that Quanstrom was required to carry PIP coverage on her own vehicle and that her failure to do so resulted in her having no coverage under the

Page 830

policy covering the vehicle in which she was a passenger.

After both parties moved for summary judgment, the trial court granted Standard Guaranty's motion, finding that Quanstrom was not entitled to coverage. The Fifth District Court of Appeal identified the issue as follows:

[W]hether a person injured while occupying a motor vehicle covered by personal injury protection (PIP) insurance is barred by section 627.736(4)(a), Florida Statutes (1985), from recovering PIP benefits from the insurer of the owner of that vehicle because the insured person is the owner of an uninsured motor vehicle which is not in fact being driven or operated on the roads of this state because of needed repairs.

Id. The district court reversed, finding that Quanstrom was entitled to PIP coverage under the insurance policy covering the vehicle in which she was a passenger and concluding that she was not required to carry PIP coverage on her inoperable car. The district court then directed the trial court to enter a final judgment in favor of Quanstrom. On remand, the sole issue was attorney's fees. Standard Guaranty and Quanstrom stipulated to a reasonable number of hours and a reasonable hourly rate, resulting in an agreed-upon lodestar fee of $8,100. On the merits in this cause, Quanstrom's counsel filed a complaint, filed and argued a motion for summary judgment, took one deposition, and filed and presented the issue on appeal. On remand, the only contested issue before the trial court was whether a contingency fee multiplier should be applied to the agreed-upon lodestar fee. Quanstrom's counsel contended that a multiplier must be applied and sought a multiplier of 3, which would result in a fee exceeding $24,000. The trial court rejected the application of a multiplier, finding that the fee arrangement between Quanstrom and her attorney was not a contingency fee arrangement, and found that $8,100 was a reasonable fee in this matter. The Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court, finding that this was a contingency fee agreement and that "the application of a multiplier factor is mandatory on the trial judge when the prevailing party's counsel is employed on a contingency fee basis and a reasonable attorney's fee is being calculated as directed in Rowe." 519 So.2d at 1136. We disagree with the holding that a multiplier must be applied under these circumstances.

Initially, it is necessary that we reexamine the principles adopted in Rowe. In Rowe, we found that, in setting a reasonable attorney's fee, the federal lodestar approach "provide[d] a suitable foundation for an objective structure," 472 So.2d at 1150 (citations omitted). In so holding, we recognized that, in determining the fee, courts should apply those factors enunciated in the Florida Bar Code of Professional Responsibility. 3 We explained how the lodestar amount is determined and noted how some of the code factors were integrated into this calculation. With regard

Page 831

to contingency fee matters, we also emphasized that "[o]nce the court arrives at the lodestar figure, it may add or subtract from the fee based upon a 'contingency risk' factor and the 'results obtained.' " 472 So.2d at 1151 (emphasis added). We also explained that, in personal injury cases, "[w]hen the prevailing party's counsel is employed on a contingent fee basis, the trial court must consider a contingency risk factor when awarding a statutorily-directed reasonable attorney fee." Id. (emphasis added). In view of the Fifth District Court of Appeal's holding in the instant case, we emphasize that the words "must consider" do not mean "must apply," but mean "must consider whether or not to apply" the contingency fee multiplier.

The federal courts developed the lodestar method of determining attorney's fees to apply to a special class of cases, in which Congress had enacted fee-authorizing statutes to pay fees to prevailing plaintiffs for the purpose of obtaining public enforcement of Congressional acts. The lodestar method was not originally created to apply to personal injury cases. When we adopted the lodestar approach in Rowe, we were applying it to personal injury malpractice actions in which the legislature had determined that the prevailing party, plaintiff or defendant, was entitled to attorney's fees. In adopting the lodestar...

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  • 717 F.Supp.2d 1259 (M.D.Fla. 2010), 8:08-cv-2204-T-33TGW, Ottaviano v. Nautilus Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Middle District of Florida
    • June 7, 2010
    ...court must consider in contingency fee cases whether a enhancement of the lodestar is appropriate. Standard Guar. Ins. Co. v. Quanstrom, 555 So.2d 828, 831 A. The plaintiff argues that he is entitled to a court awarded attorneys' fee of $104,650, which comprises a lodestar of $41,860, multi......
  • 659 So.2d 1120 (Fla.App. 3 Dist. 1995), 94-2587, Baker Protective Services v. FP Inc.
    • United States
    • Florida Florida Court of Appeals Third District
    • July 19, 1995
    ...outlined in Florida Patient's Compensation Fund v. Rowe, 472 So.2d 1145 (Fla.1985), modified, Standard Guar. Ins. Co. v. Quanstrom, 555 So.2d 828 (Fla.1990) when setting the fee award, but should instead look to the "totality of the circumstances" surrounding the attorney relation......
  • 948 So.2d 1027 (Fla.App. 5 Dist. 2007), 5D06-444, Progressive Exp. Ins. Co. v. Schultz
    • United States
    • Florida Florida Court of Appeals Fifth District
    • February 23, 2007
    ...first appeared in Florida jurisprudence in Rowe, and was refined by the supreme court in Standard Guaranty Insurance Co. v. Quanstrom, 555 So.2d 828 (Fla.1990). 3 Quanstrom set forth a number of factors to be considered in evaluating the need for a multiplier, including: (1) [W]hether the r......
  • Khalid v. Citrix Systems, Inc., 120720 WACA, 79143-5-I
    • United States
    • Washington Court of Appeals of Washington
    • December 7, 2020
    ...Joyce v. Federated Nat'l Ins. Coverage, 228 So.3d 1122, 1128 (Fla. 2017) (citing Standard Guar. Ins. Co. v. Quanstrom, 555 So.2d 828, 834 (Fla. 1990)). "If the trial court determines that success was more likely than not at the outset, it may apply a multiplier of 1......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
305 cases
  • 717 F.Supp.2d 1259 (M.D.Fla. 2010), 8:08-cv-2204-T-33TGW, Ottaviano v. Nautilus Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Middle District of Florida
    • June 7, 2010
    ...court must consider in contingency fee cases whether a enhancement of the lodestar is appropriate. Standard Guar. Ins. Co. v. Quanstrom, 555 So.2d 828, 831 A. The plaintiff argues that he is entitled to a court awarded attorneys' fee of $104,650, which comprises a lodestar of $41,860, multi......
  • 659 So.2d 1120 (Fla.App. 3 Dist. 1995), 94-2587, Baker Protective Services v. FP Inc.
    • United States
    • Florida Florida Court of Appeals Third District
    • July 19, 1995
    ...outlined in Florida Patient's Compensation Fund v. Rowe, 472 So.2d 1145 (Fla.1985), modified, Standard Guar. Ins. Co. v. Quanstrom, 555 So.2d 828 (Fla.1990) when setting the fee award, but should instead look to the "totality of the circumstances" surrounding the attorney relation......
  • 948 So.2d 1027 (Fla.App. 5 Dist. 2007), 5D06-444, Progressive Exp. Ins. Co. v. Schultz
    • United States
    • Florida Florida Court of Appeals Fifth District
    • February 23, 2007
    ...first appeared in Florida jurisprudence in Rowe, and was refined by the supreme court in Standard Guaranty Insurance Co. v. Quanstrom, 555 So.2d 828 (Fla.1990). 3 Quanstrom set forth a number of factors to be considered in evaluating the need for a multiplier, including: (1) [W]hether the r......
  • Khalid v. Citrix Systems, Inc., 120720 WACA, 79143-5-I
    • United States
    • Washington Court of Appeals of Washington
    • December 7, 2020
    ...Joyce v. Federated Nat'l Ins. Coverage, 228 So.3d 1122, 1128 (Fla. 2017) (citing Standard Guar. Ins. Co. v. Quanstrom, 555 So.2d 828, 834 (Fla. 1990)). "If the trial court determines that success was more likely than not at the outset, it may apply a multiplier of 1......
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1 firm's commentaries
8 books & journal articles
  • Putting the lid back on Pandora's 'jar': a clarion call for the elimination of contingency risk multipliers in Florida PIP litigation.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 84 Nbr. 7, July 2010
    • July 1, 2010
    ...cases of State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Palma, 555 So. 2d 836 (Fla. 1990), and Standard Guaranty Insurance Co. v. Quanstrom, 555 So. 2d 828 (Fla. 1990), and held that trial courts could apply contingency risk multipliers in such cases because of the "risk of nonpayment." (1......
  • Entitlement to attorneys' fees under FDUTPA.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 78 Nbr. 1, January 2004
    • January 1, 2004
    ...be awarded such fees only when plaintiff's FDUTPA claim is frivolous or groundless. In Standard Guaranty Insurance Co. v. Quanstrom, 555 So. 2d 828 (Fla. 1990), the Florida Supreme Court addressed whether use of a contingency fee multiplier is mandatory or discretionary in setting a reasona......
  • The appellate opinion is out - now what do I do?
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 82 Nbr. 5, May 2008
    • May 1, 2008
    ...See, e.g., Florida Patient's Comp. Fund v. Rowe, 472 So. 2d 1145, 1148 (Fla. 1985), modified by Standard Guar. Ins. Co. v. Quanstrom, 555 So. 2d 828 (Fla. 1990). Kovack Sec., Inc. v. Bailey, 933 So. 2d 1202, 1202 (Fla 4th D.C.A. 2006); Mercury Cas. Co. v. Rural Metro Ambulance Inc., 909 So.......
  • Damages under FDUTPA.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 78 Nbr. 5, May 2004
    • May 1, 2004
    ...Marshall v. W&L Enterprise Corp., 560 So. 2d 1147, 1148 (Fla. 1st DCA 1978)); accord, Standard Guaranty Insurance Co. v. Quanstrom, 555 So. 2d 828, 834 (Fla. 1990) (FDUTPA actions are public policy enforcement cases). (22) They should look to that same remedial purpose in construing tha......
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