Caufield v. Cantele

837 So. 2d 371 (2002)

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Caufield v. Cantele

Florida Supreme Court
837 So. 2d 371 (2002)

Facts

Edward and Rose Caufield (plaintiffs) sold a mobile-home park to Gino and Armando Cantele (defendants). The contract-of-sale included a provision that the prevailing party in any litigation arising out of the contract-of-sale would be entitled to recover attorney’s fees from the losing party. Approximately two years after the sale closed, the Canteles sued the Caufields, alleging the Caufields had intentionally misrepresented the condition of the sewer plant on the property. The Caufields filed a responsive pleading denying the allegations in the complaint and asserting a general claim for attorney’s fees; the Caufields did not specifically plead the attorney’s-fee provision from the contract-of-sale. Ultimately, the Canteles voluntarily dismissed their complaint. After the dismissal, the Caufields filed a motion for attorney’s fees pursuant to the attorney’s-fee provision in the contract-of-sale. The trial court denied the Caufield’s motion, holding that (1) a tort claim for intentional misrepresentation does not arise out of a contract-of-sale; and (2) the Caufields were not entitled to recover fees on their post-dismissal motion because they had failed to plead the contractual basis for their attorney’s-fee claim with sufficient specificity pre-dismissal. The Caufields appealed. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed, reiterating that the Caufields’ failure to specifically plead the contractual basis for their attorney’s-fees claim pre-dismissal waived their right to raise the claim post-dismissal. The Caufields appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Quince, J.)

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