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King v. Young, Berkman, Berman & Karpf

District Court of Appeal of Florida
709 So. 2d 572 (1998)


Richard King (defendant) hired the law firm of Young, Berkman, Berman & Karpf, P.A. (plaintiff) (firm) to represent him in his divorce proceedings. The firm prepared a fee agreement that provided for a $25,000 retainer and set the hourly rates that the firm would charge. The fee agreement also included a section that stated that if the matter concluded with a divorce for King, the firm would be entitled to an additional fee, which was referred to as a “bonus” fee, that would be determined by the firm and would be reasonable and fair. During the divorce proceedings, King paid $342,989 to the firm based on the hourly rates charged by the firm. The firm secured a divorce for King. After the matter ended, the firm demanded King pay the firm a $750,000 bonus. King refused to pay the bonus. The firm sued King, seeking a $1,150,000 bonus. The trial court awarded the firm $525,000 in additional fees. King appealed the trial court’s award. King argued that the bonus clause of the fee agreement was unenforceable, because it created an improper contingency fee based on results obtained in a divorce proceeding.

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