TALLAHASSEE — Judges for Florida's 1st District Court of Appeal have reversed a lower court decision and remanded a portion of the case regarding attorney fees back to the Circuit Court for Escambia County.
The case involved a Florida attorney and his request for to be paid fees even though that request was not included in the settlement presented to the court hearing the original case.
In the ruling, the panel stated that a plaintiff’s fee request was not necessarily invalid just because the original settlement proposal was unaccepted.
The original case was filed by plaintiff Michael Aguado, who was involved in a car crash in 2011. Aguado sued defendant Allen Miller and was awarded damages for personal injuries.
According to court records, the proposal for settlement did not have Aguado’s request that the settlement includes an amount for his attorney fees outside of the money to compensate him for his injuries.
In reversing the lower court decision, the panel cited the holding in Kuhajda v. Borden Dairy Company of Alabama LLC.
“In Kuhajda, the Court held that 'if attorney's fees are not sought in the pleadings an offer of settlement is not invalid for failing to state whether the proposal includes attorney's fees and whether attorney's fees are part of the legal claim,'" the panel wrote in the decision. “It would make no sense to require the offeror to state in its proposal for settlement that the offer does not include punitive damages when the plaintiff did not claim an entitlement to them and could not recover them because of the failure to plead.”
The court remanded the case back to the circuit court for further proceedings.