Ingalsbe v. Stewart Agency, Inc.

869 So. 2d 30 (2004)

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Ingalsbe v. Stewart Agency, Inc.

Florida District Court of Appeal
869 So. 2d 30 (2004)

  • Written by Sharon Feldman, JD

Facts

A client (client) retained Raymond Ingalsbe, his firm Raymond G. Ingalsbe, P.A., and J. Kent Brown (collectively, Ingalsbe) (plaintiffs) to sue Stewart Agency, Inc., and Earl Stewart, Jr. (collectively, Stewart) (defendants) under Florida’s lemon law. Client’s fee agreement with Ingalsbe provided that the amount due Ingalsbe would be (1) 40 percent of the amount recovered plus 5 percent (or $10,000 if greater than 5 percent) for any appeal or (2) the amount set by the court under the statute governing attorneys’ fees in lemon-law cases if greater than 40 percent of client’s recovery; or, (3) if client settled the case against Ingalsbe’s advice, client would pay $300 per hour for time spent by Ingalsbe. Client’s case was tried, and damages were awarded. The judgment was reversed on the ground that the trial court improperly excluded evidence proffered by the defense. The case was remanded for a new trial. Stewart urged client to settle without the involvement of Ingalsbe. Stewart made an offer that included attorneys’ fees but, upon learning of the terms of client’s fee agreement with Ingalsbe, increased the offer for attorneys’ fees to 40 percent plus $10,000. Ingalsbe rejected the amount offered by Stewart and sued Stewart for interfering with his fee agreement. The trial court dismissed Ingalsbe’s claim. Ingalsbe appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Farmer, C.J.)

Dissent (Gross, J.)

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