Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sanctions For Filing Motion to Vacate Reversed Due To Colorable Claim

​In Swan Landing Development LLC v. First Tennessee Bank National Association (2D11-3410),  the Second District reviewed the trial court's  imposition of sanctions against the Appellant and its attorneys. Ultimately,  the sanctions order was reversed because the organization had a colorable claim and basis to file a motion seeking relief they sought.
​The court stated that "[a] finding that a party is entitled to recover attorney's fees under section 57.105 must be based upon substantial, competent evidence presented at the hearing on attorney's fees or otherwise before the court and in the record." That being said, in this case, the Court stated:
We are compelled to conclude based on the facts of this case that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding fees under section 57.105.  Rule 1.540(b) permits a trial court to relieve a party from a final judgment based, in part, on "newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial or rehearing, . . . fraud . . . , misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party . . . ."  Here, the Bank's audit inquiry letter, which was sent after entry of the final judgment of foreclosure, facially contradicted the Bank's position at trial that the parties had agreed to a concession.  And because Swan Landing's efforts seeking an explanation of this contradiction proved unsuccessful, we conclude it was reasonable under these circumstances for Swan Landing and its attorneys to pursue the 1.540(b) motion. 


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