Sunday, July 14, 2013
Foreclosure Appeal Victory for Space Coast Homeowner
In 2011, firm attorney Richard Shuster obtained the dismissal of a foreclosure case filed against a Brevard County law enforcement officer. After the case was dismissed our firm filed a motion for attorney’s fees to recover money from U.S. Bank to reimburse as much as possible of the fees paid by the homeowner to our firm and to recover payment for the portion for our time that was spent on a pure contingency fee basis. (Under our firm’s retainer agreement, a substantial portion of the time spent on the case is on a contingency fee basis meaning unless we win the case and recover fees from the bank we do not get paid for the time). On January 12, 2012, a fee hearing was conducted before Brevard Circuit Judge John D. Moxley, Jr. to determine the amount of attorney’s fees US Bank would have to pay. The case had numerous hearings after U.S. Bank’s lawyers, Douglas Zahm, P.A. had objected to almost all of the homeowner’s discovery requests, and our firm had to repeatedly go to Court to obtain orders overruling the bank’s objections and ordering the bank to provide discovery.
The time sheet filed by Douglas Zahm’s office showed they had worked approximately seventy hours by the time the bank moved for summary judgment. Ultimately our firm worked over 100 hours on the case before we obtained a dismissal. At the fee hearing the Court awarded 95 of the 101 ours we requested. After adding expert witness fees, costs, and interest, the attorney fee judgment against U.S. Bank came to $46,878.20. This judgment was the largest fee judgment rendered against a bank in Brevard County in 2012. The hours were much higher in this case because both firms fought the case very hard and “went to the mat.”
U.S. Bank brought in Lee L. Haas, a board certified business litigation attorney to handle the appeal. Firm attorney, Richard Shuster, who handled the case at the trial level, fought on for the homeowner in the appeals Court. While this was the firm’s first foreclosure appeal, Shuster had prior appellate experience in the First and Third District Court’s of Appeal. The firm handled the appeal on a pure contingency fee basis, meaning the client paid no fees to our firm while the appeal was pending and the firm would only get paid if we won the appeal and appellate attorney’s fees were awarded. During the fifteen months the appeal was pending our client paid nothing for attorney’s fees and made no mortgage payments. The firm will now collect the original trial level fee award from the appellate bond paid by US Bank and seek additional appellate fees for writing an appellate brief that was approximately 40 pages long. To view a redacted copy of the 5th DCA’s Per Curium Affirmed Opinion clink here. A Per Curium Affirmed opinion means the appellate Court unanimously found that the trial Court did not commit any errors.