Wolfe v. Nazaire, No. 4D99-0540.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtSHAHOOD, J.
Citation758 So.2d 730
PartiesTrishia WOLFE, Appellant, v. Elizabeth NAZAIRE, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 4D99-0540.
Decision Date10 May 2000

758 So.2d 730

Trishia WOLFE, Appellant,
v.
Elizabeth NAZAIRE, Appellee

No. 4D99-0540.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District.

May 10, 2000.


758 So.2d 731
Manuel A. Fernandez, Miami, for appellant

Gary A. Esler of Esler & Lindie, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, for appellee.

SHAHOOD, J.

This is an appeal from an order taxing attorney's fees in favor of appellee, Elizabeth Nazaire, following this court's mandate in Wolfe v. Nazaire, 713 So.2d 1108 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998) (Wolfe I). We hold that the trial court abused its discretion in

758 So.2d 732
enhancing the fee it awarded where it failed to state the grounds for enhancement and additionally did not have sufficient evidence before it to support such an award. We accordingly reverse and remand with directions for the trial court to enter an order on fees in favor of appellee in the amount of $2,500.00

As stated above, this is the second appeal in this case. In the first case, appellant, Trishia Wolfe, was the plaintiff below in a negligence action which resulted in a defense verdict. She appealed the trial court's order awarding appellee, Elizabeth Nazaire, $7,500 in attorney's fees. Appellant argued that the trial court could not award attorney's fees to appellee in an amount higher than that provided for in appellee's contract with her attorney. In Wolfe I, 713 So.2d at 1108-09, this court held that a trial court could award attorney's fees that exceeded the hourly wage the attorney and client agreed upon, where the contract addressing attorney's fees stated that compensation would be either a specified hourly wage or an amount awarded by the court under the prevailing party statute, whichever yielded the higher fee.

This court further held that the trial court, in arriving at the $7,500 attorney's fee figure, erred in failing to set out in the order the hours reasonably expended and the reasonable rate to be applied to those hours. See id. at 1109. As such, the matter was reversed and remanded "for the trial court to determine the amount of attorney's fees to be awarded after making the required findings." Id.

Upon remand, a hearing was held before the trial court on appellee's motion to determine the amount of attorney's fees, pursuant to appellate opinion and mandate. No testimony was taken at the hearing. Rather, the trial court relied upon the expert affidavits previously submitted and argument by the parties. Nevertheless, after reviewing the file and expert affidavits, the trial court found that defense counsel reasonably expended twenty-five hours at a reasonable hourly rate of $100 for a "loadstar" [sic] fee in the amount of $2,500. The court then determined that an enhancement of 2.0 was appropriate, thereby adding $5,000 to the lodestar fee for a total attorney's fee award of $7,500.

Appellant suggests that the trial court exceeded the scope of this court's mandate by including a contingency fee multiplier in its award of attorney's fees. In Wolfe I, appellant objected to the trial court's award of $7,500 to appellee on the grounds that the court's award could not exceed the hourly rate agreed upon in the contract between appellee and her attorney. This court, relying upon Kaufman v. MacDonald, 557 So.2d 572, 573 (Fla.1990), held that a trial court could award attorney's fees that was higher than the hourly rate set out in the contract, where the contract provided that the attorney's compensation would be either by a specified hourly rate or by an amount awarded by the court under the prevailing party statute, whichever yielded the higher fee. The contract in Wolfe I provided for a fee based on an hourly rate of "$85 or whatever may be awarded by the trial court." See Wolfe I, 713 So.2d at 1108. Based on the wording of the contract, this court held that the trial court was not bound by a "cap."

The court in Wolfe I further stated that the trial court failed to set out in the order the hours reasonably expended and the reasonable rate to be applied to those hours. In remanding, the court directed the "trial court to determine the amount of attorney's fees to be awarded after making the required findings." Id. at 1109.

It is mandatory that a trial court's order awarding attorney's fees set forth findings as to the time reasonably expended, the hourly rate, or other factors, if any, considered. See Guardianship of Halpert v. Rosenbloom, 698 So.2d 938 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997).

When an order or judgment is reversed and remanded, the lower tribunal has authority to conduct further proceedings in conformity with the instruction of

758 So.2d 733
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22 practice notes
  • First Baptist Church of Cape Coral, Fla., Inc. v. Compass Constr., Inc., Nos. SC11–1278
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • May 30, 2013
    ...District certified that its decisions are in direct conflict with the Fourth District Court of Appeal's decision in Wolfe v. Nazaire, 758 So.2d 730 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000)( Wolfe II ), concerning the validity of an alternative fee recovery clause in a fee agreement that uses an hourly rate as t......
  • Fox v. Fox, No. 4D17-2092
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • December 19, 2018
    ...error and requires remand for appropriate findings to be made.’ " Id. at 950 (alterations in original) (quoting Wolfe v. Nazaire , 758 So.2d 730, 733 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000) ). In a footnote, we cited Broadfoot v. Broadfoot , 791 So.2d 584 (Fla. 3d DCA 2001) ; and Mathieu v. Mathieu , 877 So.2d......
  • Saunders v. State, No. 2D99-2156.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • May 10, 2000
    ...1512 (11th Cir. 1984); United States v. Ceballos, 706 F.2d 1198 (11th Cir.1983). Judge Coleman, concurring specially in Guillen-Linares, 758 So.2d 730 writes interestingly and prophetically regarding the boarding of the shrimping vessel, Miss Port Canaveral, as Under the terms of Section 89......
  • MONDELLO v. TORRES, No. 4D08-4525.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 17, 2010
    ...assets and debts constitutes reversible error and requires remand for appropriate findings to be made.’ ”) (quoting Wolfe v. Nazaire, 758 So.2d 730, 733 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000) (internal citations...
  • Request a trial to view additional results
22 cases
  • First Baptist Church of Cape Coral, Fla., Inc. v. Compass Constr., Inc., Nos. SC11–1278
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • May 30, 2013
    ...District certified that its decisions are in direct conflict with the Fourth District Court of Appeal's decision in Wolfe v. Nazaire, 758 So.2d 730 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000)( Wolfe II ), concerning the validity of an alternative fee recovery clause in a fee agreement that uses an hourly rate as t......
  • Fox v. Fox, No. 4D17-2092
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • December 19, 2018
    ...error and requires remand for appropriate findings to be made.’ " Id. at 950 (alterations in original) (quoting Wolfe v. Nazaire , 758 So.2d 730, 733 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000) ). In a footnote, we cited Broadfoot v. Broadfoot , 791 So.2d 584 (Fla. 3d DCA 2001) ; and Mathieu v. Mathieu , 877 So.2d......
  • Saunders v. State, No. 2D99-2156.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • May 10, 2000
    ...1512 (11th Cir. 1984); United States v. Ceballos, 706 F.2d 1198 (11th Cir.1983). Judge Coleman, concurring specially in Guillen-Linares, 758 So.2d 730 writes interestingly and prophetically regarding the boarding of the shrimping vessel, Miss Port Canaveral, as Under the terms of Section 89......
  • MONDELLO v. TORRES, No. 4D08-4525.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 17, 2010
    ...assets and debts constitutes reversible error and requires remand for appropriate findings to be made.’ ”) (quoting Wolfe v. Nazaire, 758 So.2d 730, 733 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000) (internal citations...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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