In the recent case of McDaniel v. Edmonds, 2008 WL 285272 (Fla. 2nd DCA July 25, 2008), the court held that the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure do not require a party to file timesheets, affidavits, or other evidence along with a timely motion for attorney’s fees. Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.100(b) requires that a motion “shall state with particularity the grounds therefor, and shall set forth the relief or order sought.”
In McDaniel, the previaling parties sought to recover attorney’s fees and costs after successfully prosecuting their action. Significantly, the trial court made a determination the prevailing parties were actually entitled to fees and costs. However, the trial court denied the parties’ motion for fees and costs.
The prevaling party’s motion for attorney’s fees and costs was simple and straightforward, referencing the court’s prior ruling on entitlement to fees, and asked the court to proceed to set the amount of fees and costs “to comply with the time limitations imposed by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.”
The trial court denied the motion as facially insufficient because it did not specifically allege a legal basis for attorney’s fees and costs.
The prevailing parties appealed the trial court’s denial of their motion. The appellate court held that the prevailing parties’ motion sought attorney’s fees and costs that the trial court had already determined they were entitled to recover. The appellate court determined that the specific legal basis for the fee award was not at issue in the motion; that at the time the prevailing parties filed their motion, the only remaining issue was the amount of fees and costs.
On appeal, the defendant alternatively argued that the trial court’s denial should be upheld because the prevailing parties failed to request a particular amount of fees or costs, and failed to identify the specific costs sought and legal services performed.
The appellate court also dismissed this argument, holding that Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.100(b) does not impose a requirement that motions for attorney’s fees and costs be accompanied by affidavits setting forth the amount of fees and costs claimed. This is similar to the federal rule. The advisory committee notes to Fed. R. Civ. P. 54 state, in pertinent part:
“The rule does not require that the motion be supported at the time of filing with the evidentiary material bearing on the fees. This material must of course be submitted in due course, according to such schedule as the court may direct in light of the circumstances of the case. What is required is the filing of a motion sufficient to alert the adversary and the court that there is a claim for fees, and the amount of such fees (or a fair estimate).”
Therefore, while it is important to ensure that post trial motions for attorney’s fees and costs are sufficiently detailed and state “with particularity” the grounds and relief sought, nothing in the Rules of Civil Procedure requires that attorney time sheets, affidavits, or other supporting information must be filed with the fee motion.
Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.100(b) requires that a motion “shall state with particularity the grounds therefor, and shall set forth the relief or order sought.”