CHARLES T. MOORE, ESQ., Appellant,
ESTATE OF FLAIRE MAE ALBEE, BY MARY BENZENHAFER, PENNY A. COFFEY, LISA HOGAN, CHRISTINA FOX, JEFFREY LINDWAY, AND MICHAEL FARRAR, Appellees.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
from the Circuit Court for Volusia County, Christopher A.
Charles T. Moore, Port Orange, pro se.
Michael Farrar, Aventura, pro se.
Appearance for other Appellees.
Moore appeals the trial court's order denying his motion
for attorney's fees under section 57.105, Florida
Statutes (2013). Moore argues that the court erred because it
applied an incorrect standard in evaluating and, thereafter,
denying his motion.
Moore is correct, we nevertheless affirm because, as we
explain below, the trial court reached the right result,
albeit for the wrong reason.
is an attorney who represented the heirs of the Estate of
Fred Albee. At the time of his death, Fred Albee
("Fred") was married to Flaire Mae Albee
("Flaire Mae"). Fred died testate, but his will
made no mention of his wife. Instead, Fred's will devised
his estate to his prior wife, Maxine Kennedy
("Maxine"), to whom he was married at the time that
he executed his will. The will provided that if Maxine should
predecease Fred, then his estate was to be distributed to his
daughter and grandchildren ("the Albee Heirs").
Fred and Maxine divorced in 1992. Fred died in December 1994,
and Maxine died the following year.
2010, Moore, on behalf of the Albee Heirs, petitioned for the
summary administration of Fred's estate, which the
probate court granted. By this time, Flaire Mae had also
died. Flaire Mae's estate, believing that it was entitled
to one-half of the assets of Fred's estate by virtue of
Flaire Mae being Fred's pretermitted spouse,
sought to reopen the summary administration proceedings.
After being unsuccessful in that endeavor, Flaire Mae's
estate separately brought a civil action in circuit court
against the Albee Heirs and attorney Moore to essentially
recover one-half of Fred's estate. Moore moved to dismiss
this complaint based on the defense of res judicata, arguing
that Flaire Mae's estate's claim, if any, in
Fred's estate had been determined adversely to Flaire Mae
in a separate proceeding. The trial court denied the motion
in an unelaborated order.
to the present appeal, in September 2013, Moore and the Albee
Heirs filed a one-sentence motion for attorney's fees
under section 57.105, Florida Statutes, against the personal
representative of Flaire Mae's estate and her counsel,
Michael Farrar, asserting that they "knew or reasonably
should have known that this action is barred by res judicata
and collateral estoppel." Approximately two years later,
the Albee Heirs and Moore moved for a final summary judgment,
raising substantive grounds that are not pertinent to the
instant appeal as to why Flaire Mae's estate was not
entitled to Flaire Mae's pretermitted spousal share in
Fred's estate. The Albee Heirs and Moore also asserted in
their motion that the action filed against them by Flaire
Mae's estate was barred by collateral estoppel and res
judicata. The trial court granted final summary judgment in
favor of the Albee Heirs and Moore on the substantive grounds
argued and made no mention in the final judgment regarding
the collateral estoppel or res judicata defenses raised. On
Flaire Mae's estate's appeal and the Albee Heirs'
and Moore's cross-appeal, this court affirmed the final
summary judgment without opinion. Estate of Albee v.
Coffey, 222 So.3d 1228 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017).
the mandate issued on the appeal, the trial court held a
hearing on the aforementioned section 57.105 motion for
attorney's fees. In denying the motion, the court
concluded in its order that it "cannot find the matters
presented by the [Flaire Mae Estate] were so devoid of a
justiciable issue of either fact or law to be completely
untenable." This appeal followed.
trial court's order denying a request for attorney's
fees pursuant to section 57.105 is reviewed for an abuse of
discretion." Infiniti Emp't Sols., Inc. v. MS
Liquidators of Ariz., LLC, 204 So.3d 550, 553 (Fla. 5th
DCA 2016) (citing Ferere v. Shure, 65 So.3d 1141,
1144 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011)). "'However, to the extent
a trial court's order on attorney's fees is based on
its interpretation of the law, ' ...