United States District Court, S.D. Florida
OPINION AND ORDER ON ENTITLEMENT TO ATTORNEYS'
FEES AND REFERRAL TO MAGISTRATE JUDGE WILLIAM
KENNETH A. MARRA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause is before the Court upon Plaintiff's Motion For
Entitlement to Attorneys' Fees and Costs [DE 279]. The
motion is ripe for the Court's consideration. The Court
has reviewed all papers submitted in connection with the
motion, the entire file, and is otherwise duly advised in the
Court previously held that Defendant Advanced Public Safety
was entitled to recover its attorneys' fees pursuant to
the Representative Agreement it had with Plaintiff, after the
Court granted summary judgment as to all contract claims
allegedly arising out of the Representative Agreement between
Plaintiff and Advanced Public Safety. [DE 273]. The Court found
no basis to preclude the enforcement of the contractual
provision in the Representative Agreement permitting the
prevailing party to recover attorneys' fees.
Defendant's entitlement to these fees arose under the
contract. For purposes of the claim based on that contract,
the prevailing party was Advanced Public Safety.
Court noted that the fact that Plaintiff had other contract
claims as to which he prevailed, which were unrelated to the
Representative Agreement, did not alter this result. The
Court stated that Plaintiff also might be entitled to
attorneys' fees, and that this was no different from
situations in litigation where parties have offsetting claims
against one another.
now moves pursuant to Rule 54(d) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure and Local Rule 7.3 of the Local Rules of the
Southern District of Florida for his attorneys' fees and
costs. The Parties do not disagree relative to his
entitlement thereto, rather, they disagree as to the scope of
succeeded on his Florida Whistleblower claim, and his breach
of contract claim under Iowa law, Plaintiff seeks his fees
and costs pursuant to Section 448.104, Fla. Stat. as to the
former, and Iowa Code §91A.8 as to the latter.
Defendants agree that Plaintiff is entitled to attorneys'
fees under these provisions. [DE 286 at ¶ 2].
disagree with Plaintiff, however, as to the scope of those
fees. Defendants argue that it is inappropriate to permit
Plaintiff to recover fees and costs as to the portion of his
breach of contract claim that was dismissed upon
Defendants' summary judgment motion. [DE 286 at ¶8].
To do so, Defendants argue, would essentially invalidate this
Court's order granting Defendant Advanced Public Safety
Inc.'s entitlement to fees as to this issue.
[Id. at ¶10].
replies that Defendants' analysis constitutes a
misapplication of the Iowa Wage Payment Collection Act and
would undermine the remedial purpose of the Act. [DE 290].
Iowa Code §91A.8 makes an award of attorneys' fees
mandatory in successful wage claim litigation, such
reimbursement is not unlimited. The amount of fees to be
awarded is within the Court's discretion, and is limited
by the statute to the usual and necessary fees to
“recover the unpaid wages.” Iowa Code
§91A.8; Gabelmann v. NFO, Inc., 606 N.W.2d 339,
343 (Iowa 2000).
to the reductio ad absurdum, Plaintiff's
argument would enable a party's attorney to add many
meritless claims to one viable claim and dramatically
increase the amount of the recoverable fees. Awarding all
fees in such a scenario is not required by Iowa law. In
Lara v. Thomas, 512 N.W.2d 777(Iowa 1994), the Iowa
Supreme Court upheld an award of only 25% of the fees sought
in the suit. The trial court there considered the total
recovery sought on wage related claims; the actual recovery
on those claims; the relationship between the fee awarded and
the results obtained; the degree that other related claims
contributed to success on these claims; and the trial
counsel's experience. Id. at 787.
does not require a different result. Even though in
Gabelmann, the Iowa Supreme Court held that the
lower court judge abused his discretion by awarding only a
small amount in fees (which he did because plaintiff did not
succeed on most of his claim), the Court made a point of
noting that the portion of the claim that was ultimately
found to be barred by the statute of limitations was not
meritless, having overcome two pretrial motions for summary
judgment. The same cannot be said of Plaintiff's claim
under the Representative Agreement, which was dismissed upon
Defendants' motion for summary judgment.
Court finds that Plaintiff is entitled to his attorneys'
fees and costs relating to his Florida Whistleblower Act
claim and that part of his breach of contract claim upon
which he prevailed, relating to the DuPage County 2013
project. The Court declines to award Plaintiff his fees and
costs relating to his unsuccessful claim under the
Representative Agreement. That claim did not contribute to
the success of his contract claim relating to the DuPage
County 2013 project, which arose not from the Representative
Agreement, but from Plaintiffs separate Compensation Plan.
it is hereby
AND ADJUDGED that Plaintiffs Motion For Entitlement
to Attorneys' Fees and Costs [DE 279] is
GRANTED CONSISTENT WITH THIS OPINION. The
assessment of the amount of the fees permitted by this Order,
and the statutory and case law of the two relevant
jurisdictions, is hereby RE ...