Attorney’s Fees: Citizens Property Insurance Co. v. Laguerre

Recently, a Florida appeals court affirmed a trial court’s decision, awarding $120,250 in attorney’s fees to a homeowner, Laguerre, who obtained a favorable settlement in a coverage dispute. The Court ultimately concluded that the trial court had not abused their discretion in applying a 2.0 contingency fee multiplier to the property coverage case.

Following a Hurricane in 2005, Laguerre filed an insurance claim for wind damage to her property. The homeowner later contested Citizen’s $8,400.77 coverage payment, arguing that it significantly undervalued her claim. Citizens agreed that state law entitled the insured to collect attorney’s fees, however, Citizens argued against the contingency fee multiplier, claiming the circumstances at bar were neither rare nor exceptional, failing to meet a standards set forth in a previous Third District decision. However, the Court found in favor of Laguerre, reasoning that Citizens’ failure to cross-examine Laguerre’s expert and present evidence of other competent and available attorneys, supported the Court’s decision that the relevant market required such a fee multiplier. The Court additionally upheld the consideration of the complexity and difficulty of a case when evaluating the application of a multiplier.