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Lisa Marie Macci, P.A. v. Jaeger

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

December 6, 2017

LISA MARIE MACCI, P.A., Appellant,
v.
STACY D. JAEGER and ROBERT M. JAEGER, D.O., Appellees.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County; Howard K. Coates, Judge; L.T. Case No. 2009DR013546XXXXNB.

          Lisa Marie Macci of Lisa Marie Macci, P.A., Boca Raton, for appellant.

          Stacy D. Jaeger, Wellington, pro se.

          Rick Ruz, Coral Gables, for appellee Robert M. Jaeger.

          Gerber, C.J.

         The former wife's attorney appeals from the circuit court's final order essentially denying the attorney's motion to enforce a retaining lien against the former husband's undifferentiated arrearage of both alimony and child support held in the attorney's trust account. We affirm.

         The former wife's attorney's agreement to provide legal services in the former wife's dissolution action stated, in pertinent part:

It is specifically agreed that the Law Firm shall have and is hereby granted all general, possessory and retaining liens and all equitable, special and attorney's charging liens upon the client's interest in any and all real, personal and intangible property within the jurisdiction of the court for any balance due, owing and unpaid and such lien or liens shall be related back to the date of this agreement and shall be superior in dignity to any other lien subsequent to the date hereof.

         The former husband became delinquent on alimony and child support. The former wife's attorney provided services towards obtaining the arrearage, which the former husband deposited into the former wife's attorney's trust account. The former husband's deposit of the arrearage was not differentiated between the alimony and child support.

         The former wife's attorney then sought to enforce a retaining lien against the undifferentiated arrearage held in her trust account. However, a magistrate recommended that the circuit court order the former wife's attorney to release the undifferentiated arrearage to the former wife.

         The former wife's attorney filed an exception to the magistrate's report and recommendation. The attorney again sought to enforce a retaining lien against the undifferentiated arrearage held in her trust account.

         The circuit court accepted the magistrate's report and recommendation, and denied the former wife's attorney's motion to enforce the retaining lien. The circuit court's ruling relied upon an earlier opinion which we issued in this dissolution action, holding that "a charging lien may not apply against an award of past due undifferentiated support accruing during the pendency of the divorce proceedings." Jaeger v. Jaeger, 182 So.3d 697, 698 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015) ("Jaeger I"). The circuit court concluded that our holding on the charging lien also should apply to a retaining lien.

         This appeal followed. The former wife's attorney argues that the court erred in relying on our holding in Jaeger I, because no case prohibits an attorney from ...


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