FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Hillsborough County; Steven Scott
Christopher Torres and John A. Wirthlin of Greenberg Traurig,
P.A., Tampa, for Appellant/Cross-Appellee.
Michael C. Addison of Addison & Associates, P.A., Tampa,
for Appellee/ Cross-Appellant Jeffrey B. Starling.
appearance for remaining Appellees.
LaROSE, Chief Judge.
Traurig, P.A. ("Greenberg") appeals the trial
court's final order granting Dr. Jeffrey B.
Starling's motion to strike Greenberg's charging lien
for lack of jurisdiction. Dr. Starling cross-appeals the same
order, challenging the trial court's finding that
Greenberg's charging lien was valid. We have
jurisdiction. See Fla. R. App. P. 9.030(b)(1)(A);
9.110(g). We remand for the trial court to strike from its
order the finding that the charging lien was valid. We affirm
the order in all other respects.
and Procedural Background
2012, Dr. Starling hired Greenberg to represent him in a
lawsuit against his former medical partners. During the
representation, Dr. Starling and Greenberg began arguing over
Greenberg's invoices for legal services. After accruing
over $300, 000 in unpaid attorneys' fees and costs,
Greenberg withdrew as Dr. Starling's counsel in late
September 2015. Greenberg transferred its files to Dr.
Starling's new counsel, Addison & Howard, P.A.
Dr. Starling and the defendants in the original lawsuit
settled the case at mediation. On January 8, 2016, the
parties filed a joint stipulation for dismissal with
prejudice. They did not notify Greenberg of the mediation,
settlement, or dismissal.
the dismissal of the original action, Greenberg sent Dr.
Starling and Addison several letters. Each letter advised Dr.
Starling that Greenberg reserved its right to file and
enforce a notice of charging lien. Dr. Starling and Addison
received and read the letters; neither responded.
two weeks after the dismissal of the original action,
Greenberg filed its notice of charging lien in the original
action. Dr. Starling moved to strike the charging
lien. In response, Greenberg moved to reopen the underlying
case so as to enforce its charging lien. The trial court
granted Greenberg's motion, and scheduled an evidentiary
hearing to determine whether it had jurisdiction to enforce
the charging lien after the voluntary dismissal.
hearing, Greenberg argued that the trial court should enforce
the charging lien because it had met the requirements for a
valid lien. Dr. Starling, however, contended that the trial
court lost jurisdiction to enforce the charging lien once the
parties voluntarily dismissed the case with prejudice, with
no reservation of jurisdiction for the trial court to
consider the notice, settlement, or attorneys' fees. When
the trial court asked whether it had jurisdiction, Greenberg
argued that Dr. Starling committed a fraud when he dismissed
the original action without notice to Greenberg.
trial court entered a written order granting Dr.
Starling's motion to strike the charging lien. Yet, the
trial court also found that Greenberg had a valid charging
lien. The trial court held that it lacked jurisdiction to
enforce the notice of charging lien because Greenberg filed
its lien after the filing of the joint ...