November 7, 2023

Defending Attorney’s Fees in Foreclosure Cases: The Crucial Balance

In the legal framework of Florida, attorney’s fees are often granted to the winning party, as outlined by Florida Statute 57.105(7), in contractual disputes, including those arising from agreements such as promissory notes and mortgages. However, the process involves more than just establishing entitlement. The prevailing party must also demonstrate the reasonableness of the fees accumulated, as emphasized in relevant case law, like Mitchell v. Flatt and Pridgen v. Agoado. 

New Case on the Block 

In the recent case of Wells Fargo, N.A. v. Meininger, the Third District Court of Appeal reviewed an award of attorney’s fees that had been granted to the Bankruptcy Trustee representing the Stopa Law Firm, P.A. The Trustee sought $17,000.00 in attorney’s fees related to services provided by the now-disbarred Florida foreclosure defense attorney Mark Stopa. The case shed light on the intricate challenges faced when attempting to establish the reasonableness of attorney’s fees in complex legal battles. 

The Challenge of Establishing Reasonableness 

During the evidentiary hearing to determine the reasonableness of the fees, the Bankruptcy Trustee faced significant limitations. Despite hiring an expert witness, the lack of fee affidavits, detailed records, or testimonies from the attorneys involved posed substantial obstacles. The Appellate Court emphasized critical gaps in the presented evidence, highlighting the Trustee’s struggle to access comprehensive details such as the specifics of the fee arrangement, the nature of services rendered, and the attorneys’ involvement. 

The Importance of Competent Legal Counsel 

The Wells Fargo, N.A. v. Meininger case underscored the crucial role played by proficient legal counsel in effectively navigating the complexities of attorney’s fees in foreclosure cases. Having legal representation that can adequately address the demands of both entitlement and reasonableness standards is indispensable in securing a successful outcome in attorney fee disputes. 

Successfully navigating the intricacies of attorney’s fees in foreclosure cases necessitates a meticulous approach. Competent legal representation can help ensure that both entitlement and reasonableness aspects of the legal battle are comprehensively addressed and supported by robust and credible evidence. 

Let Me Be Your Guide 

Whether you’re facing challenges concerning entitlement or assessing the reasonableness of attorney’s fees, I offer my expertise to lead you through the complexities of the legal system. Contact me today for thorough guidance and skillful representation in your foreclosure case. 

Jason M. Vanslette
Partner, Real Estate
Kelley Kronenberg-Fort Lauderdale, FL
(954) 370-9970