Monday, December 7, 2009

Party That Wins Interlocutory Issue Is Not Prevailing Party For Purpose Of Awarding Attorneys Fees

In Nine Island Avenue Condominium Association, Inc. v. Siegel (3D08-3084), the Third District reversed an award of attorneys fees.  The court stated: 
when a trial court enters a preliminary injunction, it is an interlocutory order, and as such “there can be no prevailing party for the purpose of awarding attorney’s fees until there is an end to the litigation . . . .”
The same reasoning applies, as here, where the trial court has denied a petition seeking preliminary relief. An award of prevailing party fees must be based upon a final determination of the merits of the case...Therefore, even though a party is successful on an intermediate or interlocutory claim, that party is not entitled to prevailing party fees if the ultimate result is in favor of the other party...We therefore find that the trial court’s award of fees was error as the nonfinal order denying the petition for injunction did not end the litigation between the parties. Because no final determination on the merits has yet been made, no prevailing party exists, and we reverse the trial court’s entry of final judgment awarding attorney’s fees to Siegel.


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