United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ORDER ON MOTION TO STRIKE CHARGING LIEN
N. Scola, Jr. United States District Judge
before the Court is the Plaintiff Anibal Fajardo's motion
to strike charging lien. (ECF No. 32.) The motion is not
opposed by the Defendants in this case. Instead,
Fajardo's prior counsel, Ena T. Diaz and the Law Offices
of Ena T. Diaz, P.A. (collectively “Diaz”), filed
a response to Fajardo's motion. For the reasons set forth
below, the Court grants Fajardo's motion
to strike the charging lien (ECF No. 32).
Relevant Factual Background
represented Fajardo in a previous action against the
Defendants, which alleged that Fajardo was owed minimum and
overtime wages. See Fajardo v. Las 3K USA, LLC,
18-cv-21180-ALTONAGA/LOUIS. Diaz withdrew from the
representation pursuant to Florida Rules of Professional
Conduct 4- 1.16(a). On July 16, 2018, Diaz filed a motion to
withdraw from representing Fajardo and a Notice of Charging
Lien. (No. 18-cv-21180, ECF Nos. 43-44.) The case was
dismissed without prejudice because Fajardo failed to retain
new counsel or file a notice of intent to proceed pro se
within the time proscribed by that Court. (No. 18-cv-21180,
ECF Nos. 47.) About seven months later, on February 28, 2019,
Fajardo filed this suit again bringing FLSA claims for unpaid
minimum and overtime wages against the Defendants. (ECF No.
1.) Diaz subsequently filed a Notice of Related Action and a
Notice of Charging Lien in this case to alert the Court to
the previous case and to the money owed to prior counsel.
(ECF Nos. 6-7.) Fajardo argues that Diaz cannot recover on
the charging lien because this Court does not have ancillary
jurisdiction over the matter. (ECF No. 32 at 6.) The Court
The Court Lacks Jurisdiction
jurisdiction “rests on the premise that a federal court
acquires jurisdiction of a case or controversy in its
entirety.” American Federation of State, County,
and Mun. Employees (AFSCME) Council 79 v. Scott, 949
F.Supp.2d 1239, 1243 (S.D. Fla. 2013) (Torres, J.) (quoting
Jenkins v. Weinshienk, 670 F.2d 915, 918 (10th Cir.
1982)). It “may extend to claims having a factual and
logical dependence on the ‘primary lawsuit.'”
Id. “The basis of the doctrine of ancillary
jurisdiction is the practical need to protect legal rights or
effectively to resolve an entire, logically entwined
lawsuit.” Id. (quoting Peacock v.
Thomas, 516 U.S. 349, 355 (1996)).
district courts apply a four-factor test when determining
whether to exercise ancillary jurisdiction: “(1) an
ancillary matter should arise from the transaction that was
the basis of the principal proceeding, during the course of
the principal proceedings, or as an integral part of the main
proceeding; (2) the federal court should be able to determine
the matter without a substantial new fact-finding proceeding;
(3) failing to determine the matter should not deprive a
party of any important procedural or substantive right; and
(4) the matter should be decided if necessary to protect the
integrity of the principal proceeding or insure that its
disposition is not frustrated.” Bruton v. Carnival
Corp., 916 F.Supp.2d 1262, 1266 (S.D. Fla. 2012)
(Torres, J.) (citing Jenkins, 670 F.2d at 918).
Applying this formulation, Diaz fails to establish that the
Court has jurisdiction.
Diaz's fee dispute with Fajardo is not an integral part
of the main proceeding because she never appeared as counsel
of record in the case, and her claims arise out of a legal
relationship that was terminated prior to the litigation.
See Burton, 916 F.Supp.2d at 1266 (fee dispute was
not an integral part of the proceeding because the
lawyer's claims arose out of a legal relationship that
predated the litigation); but see Montpellier Farm, Ltd.
V. Crane Environmental, Inc., 2009 WL 722238, *4 (S.D.
Fla. 2009) (O'Sullivan, J.) (the Court exercised
supplemental jurisdiction over an attorney's fee dispute
where prior counsel “prepared the first draft of the
complaint that was ultimately filed with this Court”
but never filed a notice of appearance, and distinguished a
situation where counsel provided legal services “in
separate state and federal actions”).
the court will be unable to resolve the charging lien without
substantial new fact-finding on the breach of contract issue
that involves a factual dispute that pre-dates the filing of
this action. Third, Diaz will not be deprived of a remedy
because she can litigate her breach of contract claim in
state court. See Trianon Condominium Apartments
Ass'n, Inc. v. QBE Ins. Corp., 2011 WL 664317, *3
(S.D. Fla. Feb. 23, 2011) (Snow, J.). Fourth, it is not
necessary to litigate the fee dispute in order to protect the
integrity of the underlying litigation or to ensure that its
disposition was not frustrated. Id. at *3;
Hogben v. Wyndham Intern., Inc., 2007 WL 2225970, *6
(Aug. 1, 2007) (Torres, J.) (“resolution of this fee
dispute is clearly not necessary to render complete justice
to the parties and lawyers who appeared in this
short, Diaz has not shown that the Court can exercise
ancillary jurisdiction over the dispute, and therefore, the
Court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate Diaz's fee claim,
regardless of its merit.
the Court grants the Plaintiff's motion
to strike the charging lien (ECF No. 32) and
orders as follows:
• The Clerk is directed to
strike Ena T. Diaz's Notice of Charging
Lien (ECF No. 7).
• The Court orders the Clerk to
close this case because the parties have