Mitchell v. Mitchell

Decision Date15 August 2012
Docket NumberNo. 4D11–2572.,4D11–2572.
Citation94 So.3d 706
PartiesRonald MITCHELL as Co–Guardian of the Person and Property of Joseph P. Mitchell, Appellant, v. Mary MITCHELL as Co–Guardian of the Person and Property of Joseph P. Mitchell, Appellee.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Brian M. O'Connell and Ashley N. Girolamo of Casey Ciklin Lubitz Martens & O'Connell, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

No appearance for appellee.

TAYLOR, J.

This appeal concerns an order granting attorney's fees and costs incurred in guardianship proceedings wherein the father/co-guardian contested the mother/co-guardian's petition for compensation and additional monies for the care of their disabled adult son/ward. We agree with the father that the trial court's “global order” on attorney's fees and costs must be reversed because the order fails to set forth (1) the basis for the fees awarded and those not awarded, (2) express findings regarding the number of hours reasonably expended, and (3) express findings regarding the reasonable hourly rate for the type of litigation involved.

It is well-settled that an award of attorney's fees must be supported by substantial competent evidence and contain express findings regarding the number of hours reasonably expended and a reasonable hourly rate for the type of litigation involved. See Simhoni v. Chambliss, 843 So.2d 1036, 1037 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003); see also Fla. Patient's Comp. Fund v. Rowe, 472 So.2d 1145 (Fla.1985). These requirements are mandatory. Guardianship of Halpert v. Rosenbloom, 698 So.2d 938, 939 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997). Moreover, it is improper to “reverse engineer” the required findings based upon a lump sum award of fees. See Bennett v. Berges, 50 So.3d 1154, 1160 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010); but compare Blits v. Renaissance Cruises, Inc., 647 So.2d 971, 972 (Fla. 4th DCA 1994) (holding that reversal was not required, despite the lack of findings in the written order, where the trial court stated on the record that it would award $11,250 and that it derived this number by multiplying seventy-five hours times $150 an hour).

Here, the trial court's order contains insufficient findings; it does not complywith the requirement that the court make express findings regarding the number of hours reasonably expended and a reasonable hourly rate for the type of litigation involved. Furthermore, the trial court's order fails to explain the basis for a reduction in fees which the court determined was for “multiple lawyers on the same matter.” While this reduction may have been warranted, the trial court should make a specific finding explaining which work was duplicative. The mere fact that both a partner and an...

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7 cases
  • Lizardi v. Federated Nat'l Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • June 11, 2021
    ...make the required [factual] findings to support its determination of the amount of reasonable attorneys' fees"); Mitchell v. Mitchell , 94 So. 3d 706, 708 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012) (holding that trial court's order was insufficient under Rowe in part where it failed "to explain the basis for a re......
  • Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's London v. Candelaria
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • May 18, 2022
    ...rate, there is no explanation contained therein as to how the trial court arrived at those figures") (citing Mitchell v. Mitchell, 94 So. 3d 706, 708 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012) (holding that trial court's order was insufficient under Rowe because it failed "to explain the basis for a reduction in ......
  • Hicks v. Hicks
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • November 20, 2019
    ...the number of hours reasonably expended and a reasonable hourly rate for the type of litigation involved." Mitchell v. Mitchell , 94 So. 3d 706, 707 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012). A trial court possesses inherent authority to award attorney's fees and costs for bad faith conduct against a party. Moak......
  • Nousari v. Nousari
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • August 15, 2012
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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