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THIRD DCA OPINION: Third District Sheds Light on When a Prevailing Party May Be Entitled to a Contingency Fee Multiplier

March 3, 2022

In Impex Caribe Corporation v. Carl Levin, P.A., No. 3D20-1806 (Fla. 3d DCA Mar. 2, 2022), the Third District Court of Appeal reversed the part of a trial court’s order that applied a contingency fee multiplier of two to an award of attorney’s fees to the prevailing plaintiff below. In its opinion, the court explained there are three factors to consider in determining whether such a multiplier should be applied, and the prevailing plaintiff below failed to prove the very first of these factors had been satisfied. Specifically, the first factor requires a showing by the party seeking a contingency fee multiplier that the relevant market area lacks attorneys with the appropriate skill level to handle the case effectively and who would take this case without a contingency fee multiplier being applied. No such facts were presented in this case. The case was factually similar to Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company v. Deshpande, 314 So. 3d 416 (Fla. 3d DCA 2020), wherein the Third District reached a similar conclusion. The moral to the story: if a party prevails at trial and seeks a contingency fee multiplier, it needs to satisfy all three factors, and regarding the first factor specifically, the party needs to show the market area lacks sufficiently-skilled attorneys who would take the case without demanding a contingency fee multiplier. Read full opinion here.

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