United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
VIRGINIA M. HERNANDEZ COVINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court pursuant to Plaintiff MB Reo-FL
Church-2, LLC's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. #
165). Although the Court granted summary judgment in favor of
MB Reo on July 31, 2017, (Doc. # 165), Defendant Frank M.
Bafford filed an interlocutory appeal before the Court could
enter an order as to damages. (Doc. # 170). Accordingly, this
order resolves the issue of damages and awards $114, 448.00
to MB Reo as follows.
review of the facts of this case is unnecessary, as the Court
has already done so in its order granting summary judgment.
(Doc. # 165). After granting summary judgment, the Court
directed MB Reo to file a supplement as to its calculation of
damages by August 14, 2017. (Id. at 22).
Subsequently, MB Reo filed declarations in support of damages
and moved for default judgment against Tampa for Christ
Church. (Docs. ## 167, 168).
thereafter, on August 29, 2017, Bafford filed a third
interlocutory appeal. (Doc. # 170). The case was once again
stayed and administratively closed pending resolution of the
appeal. (Doc. # 174). The Eleventh Circuit sua sponte
dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction on October 26,
2017. (Doc. # 176). The Court reopened the case, (Doc. #
177), and reactivated MB Reo's motion for default
judgment, as well as two motions to dismiss filed by Bafford
prior to appeal. (Docs. ## 166, 169). The Court denied
Bafford's motions on November 1, 2017. (Docs. ## 178,
the Court granted MB Reo's motion for default judgment on
November 22, 2017, (Doc. # 183), default judgment was entered
against Tampa for Christ Church. (Doc. # 184). Bafford filed
his fourth appeal, (Doc. # 187), which the Eleventh Circuit
dismissed sua sponte for lack of jurisdiction. (Doc. # 191).
The Court then directed MB Reo to file supplemental
information regarding its calculation of damages, (Doc. #
193), which MB Reo provided on June 14, 2018. (Doc. # 196).
Thus, this order resolves the only remaining issue in the
case: damages against Bafford.
damages against Bafford for its slander of title claim, MB
Reo requests a total of $114, 661.34. (Doc. # 196 at ¶
13). MB Reo does not seek monetary damages against Tampa for
Christ Church. (Doc. # 107 at 19). MB Reo's requested
judgment is comprised of the following: $37, 453.26 in
carrying costs related to the property; $74, 435.25 in
attorney's fees; and $2, 772.83 in costs. (Doc. # 196 at
¶ 13). The Court addresses each in turn.
action focused on the commercial property located at 9612 N.
26th Street and 9706 N. 26th Street, Tampa, Florida 33612.
(Doc. # 165 at 2). The property was listed for sale by MB Reo
on October 12, 2015, with an asking price of $799, 000.
(Id.). It is undisputed Bafford's notices
prevented MB Reo from selling its property. (Doc. # 107-1 at
¶ 30). Thus, MB Reo was forced to carry the costs of the
property. In support of its alleged carrying costs, MB Reo
has submitted its 2016 income statement, which includes costs
related to the general operating expenses, repairs,
maintenance, management, insurance and general administration
of the property. (Doc. # 196-2). The total amount is $52,
124.19. (Id.). These costs are provided through
September of 2016, when MB Reo sold the property.
(Id.). MB Reo has limited its request to the
following carrying costs: property insurance ($17, 263.98);
property management ($18, 967.74); and property taxes ($1,
248.54). (Doc. # 196-2 at ¶ 12). Accordingly, the Court
awards MB Reo's requested carrying costs in the total
amount of $37, 453.26.
Court is afforded broad discretion in addressing
attorney's fees. See Villano v. City of Boynton
Beach, 254 F.3d 1302, 1305 (11th Cir.
2001)(“Ultimately, the computation of a fee award is
necessarily an exercise of judgment because there is no
precise rule or formula for making these
determinations.” (internal citation omitted)). In
Florida, the federal lodestar method is used to calculate
attorney's fees. Fla. Patient's Comp Fund v.
Rowe, 472 So.2d 1145, 1146 (Fla. 1985). The Court
determines the reasonable fee by taking the “number of
hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a
reasonable hourly rate.” Hensley v. Eckerhart,
461 U.S. 424, 76 (1983).
applicant bears the burden of establishing entitlement to the
hours requested as well as to the hourly rate. Webb v.
Bd. of Educ. of Dyer Cty., 471 U.S. 234, 242 (1985). If
an attorney fails to carry his or her burden, the Court
“is itself an expert on the question [of attorneys'
fees] and may consider its own knowledge and experience
concerning reasonable and proper fees.” Norman v.
Hous. Auth. of Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292, 1303 (11th
retained Akerman LLP in this action and requests
attorney's fees in the amount of $74, 435.25. (Doc. # 196
at ¶¶ 2, 9). Attorney Irene Bassel Frick explains
in her supplemental ...