Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Attorney’s Fees Not Automatic Under Florida Rule 1.380

Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals has held that a defendant is not entitled to attorney’s fees for a plaintiff’s refusal to admit the central issue of fact in a civil case. Before the Court was the appeal of Walter Shaw and his corporation, Is Your Home Safe, Inc. Defendant made a videotape entitled “It Took a Thief to Stop a Thief,” to sell for profit. Shaw had previously been convicted of breaking and entering a dwelling house with the intent to commit a felony.

The state filed a complaint in Broward County Circuit Court against Shaw and his corporation; Defendant seeking to enforce a lien against any proceeds of the sale of the videotape under section 944.512 Florida Statutes (1989). That statute is Florida’s version of New York’s “Son of Sam Law” which provides for a lien in favor of the state for all proceeds of any sales from the videotape. The case proceeded to a bench trial. The court found as a matter of fact that the videotape was not an account of the crime for which the defendant was convicted.

The defendant moved for attorney’s fees against the state under Florida Rules of Civil Procedures 1.380(c), for the state’s failure to admit during discovery that the videotape was not an account of Shaw’s crime. The circuit court refused to award attorney’s fees, and the state appealed. Rule 1.380(c) provides the expenses assessed after a failure to admit “may include attorney’s fees” but not if the court finds “there was another good reason for the failure to admit.”

In upholding the circuit court’s order, the Fourth District said, “If Defendant was correct in the argument that attorney’s fees must be assessed where a party denies request to admit a fact which is a central issue of the case, prevailing party attorney’s fee would become the rule, rather than the exception. See: Shaw v. State, 616 So. 2nd 1094 (Fla. 4th D.C.A. 1993).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Shaw v. State