COLETTE K. MEYER and MEYER LAW FIRM, Appellants,
VICTORIA WATRAS, as Guardian of STAR ELIZABETH WATRAS-DONNALLY, Appellee.
final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit,
Palm Beach County; Krista Marx, Judge; L.T. Case No.
Bresky and Randall D. Burks of Law Offices of Robin Bresky,
Boca Raton, for appellants.
Charles H. Burns, Tequesta, for appellee.
Colette K. Meyer and Meyer Law Firm, served as counsel for
the guardianship of a ward who is an incapacitated minor.
They appeal the circuit court's final order that awarded
them less than what they requested in their three petitions
for attorney's fees and costs. For the reasons stated
herein, we affirm in part and reverse in part with
received $154, 468.24 in attorney's fees and costs from
the guardianship for legal services performed between May
2013 and December 2014. On August 21, 2015, appellants filed
a motion to voluntarily withdraw as counsel. That motion was
granted six days later on August 27, 2015.
then filed three petitions, requesting additional
attorney's fees and costs. The first petition was for
$77, 706.25 in fees and $2, 794.48 in costs incurred from
December 1, 2014, through August 20, 2015. The second
petition was for $9, 662.50 in fees and $1, 056.60 in costs
incurred from August 13, 2015, through October 31, 2015. The
third petition was for $13, 062.50 in fees and $437.50 in
costs associated with filing the first two petitions and
preparing for the fees hearing.
circuit court held an evidentiary hearing on the petitions
where Meyer testified that the three petitions accurately
reflected the time spent on this case, which she said was
made difficult and time-consuming because the ward was a
plaintiff and asked her firm for assistance in two
complicated medical malpractice cases. However, even the
expert hired by appellants testified that asking for over
$250, 000 in attorney's fees for representing a
guardianship for just over two years in a guardianship worth
approximately $400, 000 appeared excessive.
court later issued its order, explaining that it was
"troubled by such a large percentage of the guardianship
being usurped for attorney's fees and costs by the
guardian's former counsel who only served in that
capacity from May of 2013 until August of 2015." In
agreeing with the guardian's expert that appellants
charged an excessive fee, the court found as follows:
1) the Meyer Law Firm bills in no less than quarter hour
increments when tenths of an hour would be more appropriate
in a guardianship matter;
2) time spent researching and drafting documents to convert
this guardianship into a trust should not be charged to the
3) time spent on a foreclosure matter for the ward's
mother should not be charged against the guardianship;
4) work by paralegals, which appears essentially secretarial,
should not be charged ...