Hunter v. Flowers

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtROBERTS; ADAMS; TERRELL; SEBRING
Citation43 So.2d 435,14 A.L.R.2d 447
PartiesHUNTER et al. v. FLOWERS et ux.
Decision Date23 December 1949

Page 435

43 So.2d 435
14 A.L.R.2d 447
HUNTER et al.
v.
FLOWERS et ux.
Supreme Court of Florida, en Banc.
Dec. 23, 1949.

Coe & Eggart, Pensacola, for appellants.

Jones & Latham, Pensacola, for appellees.

ROBERTS, Justice.

The sole question to be determined on this appeal is the constitutionality vel non of the provisions of Section 86.06, Florida Statutes 1941, F.S.A., authorizing the recovery of an attorney's fee by a successful claimant in a summary proceeding to enforce a laborer's lien against real or personal property when the laborer is in privity with the owner of such property.

Section 86.06, supra, was enacted into law by Chapter 12079, Laws of Florida 1927, which chapter re-enacted Section 3519 of the Revised General Statutes 1920, relating to the enforcement of laborers' liens, and added thereto an additional section to provide for a summary proceeding to enforce a laborer's lien, which summary-proceeding section is now carried on our statute books as Section 86.06.

The summary proceeding there provided for was held constitutional in State ex rel. Gore v. Chillingworth, 126 Fla. 645, 171 So. 649, 655, wherein this court, speaking through Mr. Justice Davis, held that the special statutory summary remedy for the enforcement of laborers' liens is consistent

Page 436

with the constitutional requirement that 'the Legislature shall provide for giving to mechanics and laborers an adequate lien on the subject-matter of their labor. Section 22, art. 16, Const. Florida.'

In the Chillingworth case, the court did not have before it the question of the constitutionality of that particular portion of Section 86.06 awarding attorneys' fees to a successful claimant, which portion now concerns us; and, in fact, this court has not heretofore been called upon to give an opinion as to its constitutionality. It is true that this court has heretofore held unconstitutional a statute providing for the payment of attorneys' fees in suits to enforce mechanics' liens, including both materialmen's and laborers' liens, see Franklin Savings and Loan Company v. Fisk, 98 Fla. 683, 124 So. 42; Martin v. Rother, 94 Fla. 205, 113 So. 713, on the basis of a decision of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Union Terminal Co. et al. v. Turner Const. Co., 1918, 247 F. 727, 11 A.L.R. 880, holding that Section 2218, General Statutes of Florida 1906, providing for the awarding of an attorney's fee in suits by materialmen, mechanics, artisans and laborers to enforce their liens, was unconstitutional as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

The reasoning upon which the Union Terminal Co. case was decided was that of the United States Supreme Court in Gulf, C. & S. F. R. Co. v. Ellis, 165 U.S. 150, 17 S.Ct. 255, 256, 41 L.Ed. 666, wherein a statute of the state of Texas, giving an attorney's fee of $10.00 to a successful claimant against a railroad corporation for personal services rendered or labor done, or for damages, etc., for claims not exceeding $50.00, was held unconstitutional. The Supreme Court stated in its opinion that the effect of this statute was simply to impose a penalty upon railroad corporations for failure to pay certain debts, while individuals or other corporations guilty of similar delinquencies were not thus punished. It was declared that under this statute the railroad corporations were not treated as other debtors 'or equally with other debtors', that they could not appeal to the courts as other litigants under like conditions and with like protection, that if the litigation terminated adversely to them they were mulcted in the attorney's fees of the successful plaintiff, while if successful they recovered no attorney's fees, that they were therefore discriminated against and did not stand equal before the law.

The Texas statute was subsequently amended so as to apply to all persons and corporations, rather than to railroad corporations alone, and raising the maximum claim to $200.00, and as amended was held to be constitutional in the case of Missouri, Kansas & Texas R. Co. of Texas v. Cade, 233 U.S. 642, 34 S.Ct. 678, 680, 58 L.Ed. 1135. In upholding the constitutionality of the later Act, the Supreme Court of the United States held...

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21 practice notes
  • Sasso v. Ram Property Management, No. AG-112
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 29 Abril 1983
    ...on two prior Florida Supreme Court cases, neither of which applied the substantial relationship standard. See also Hunter v. Flowers, 43 So.2d 435, 437 (Fla.1949). 10 The court relied on Daniels. See Note 9. 11 Contrast earlier Florida cases, equating a "just relation" standard to......
  • Pigg v. Brockman, No. 8409
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • 18 Julio 1957
    ...Fowler Co., 260 U.S. 35, 43 S.Ct. 55, 67 L.Ed. 115; Dohany v. Rogers, 281 U.S. 362, 50 S.Ct. 299, 74 L.Ed. 904; Hunter v. Flowers, Fla., 43 So.2d 435, 14 A.L.R.2d 447; 15 C.J., Costs, § 491; 20 C.J.S. Costs, § 125; 14 Am.Jur., Costs, §§ 39, In the Cohen and Beyerbach cases, the authority of......
  • Florida Patient's Compensation Fund v. Rowe, No. 64459
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 2 Mayo 1985
    ...authorizing courts to award attorney fees to prevailing litigants have long withstood constitutional attack. See, e.g., Hunter v. Flowers, 43 So.2d 435 (Fla.1949) (upholding statute authorizing the recovery of attorney fee by a successful claimant enforcing a laborer's lien). The question o......
  • State v. Champe, No. 53811
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 14 Diciembre 1978
    ...Pacheco v. Pacheco, 246 So.2d 778, 781 (Fla.), Appeal dismissed, 404 U.S. 804, 92 S.Ct. 85, 30 L.Ed.2d 36 (1971); Hunter v. Flowers, 43 So.2d 435, 437 (Fla.1949); State, by Knott v. Minge, 119 Fla. 515, 526, 160 So. 670, 674 15 We are not concerned, of course, with either the wisdom or desi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
21 cases
  • Sasso v. Ram Property Management, No. AG-112
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 29 Abril 1983
    ...on two prior Florida Supreme Court cases, neither of which applied the substantial relationship standard. See also Hunter v. Flowers, 43 So.2d 435, 437 (Fla.1949). 10 The court relied on Daniels. See Note 9. 11 Contrast earlier Florida cases, equating a "just relation" standard to......
  • Pigg v. Brockman, No. 8409
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • 18 Julio 1957
    ...Fowler Co., 260 U.S. 35, 43 S.Ct. 55, 67 L.Ed. 115; Dohany v. Rogers, 281 U.S. 362, 50 S.Ct. 299, 74 L.Ed. 904; Hunter v. Flowers, Fla., 43 So.2d 435, 14 A.L.R.2d 447; 15 C.J., Costs, § 491; 20 C.J.S. Costs, § 125; 14 Am.Jur., Costs, §§ 39, In the Cohen and Beyerbach cases, the authority of......
  • Florida Patient's Compensation Fund v. Rowe, No. 64459
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 2 Mayo 1985
    ...authorizing courts to award attorney fees to prevailing litigants have long withstood constitutional attack. See, e.g., Hunter v. Flowers, 43 So.2d 435 (Fla.1949) (upholding statute authorizing the recovery of attorney fee by a successful claimant enforcing a laborer's lien). The question o......
  • State v. Champe, No. 53811
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 14 Diciembre 1978
    ...Pacheco v. Pacheco, 246 So.2d 778, 781 (Fla.), Appeal dismissed, 404 U.S. 804, 92 S.Ct. 85, 30 L.Ed.2d 36 (1971); Hunter v. Flowers, 43 So.2d 435, 437 (Fla.1949); State, by Knott v. Minge, 119 Fla. 515, 526, 160 So. 670, 674 15 We are not concerned, of course, with either the wisdom or desi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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