Fees When Damages Are Not Awarded

In contract disputes, such as first party claims where an insured is suing their own insurance company for breach of contract, one highly contested aspect of the lawsuit is the Plaintiff’s right to recover their attorney fees and costs. This recovery in most cases is subject to the Plaintiff prevailing on the breach of contract claim.

In a recent Second District Court of Appeal ruling the court analyzed whether the Plaintiff is entitled to attorney fees and costs if no damages were awarded. See; Khodam v. Escondido Homeowners’s Assoc., Inc. So.3d, 37 FLW D928 (Fla. 4th DCA 4-18-2012). In the Kohdam case the trial court held that where the jury found a breach of contract but awarded no damages, the plaintiff was the prevailing part for the purpose of only awarding costs but not for purposes of awarding fees. Id.

On appeal the Second District Court reversed the trial court and ruled that in a breach of contract action one party must prevail. As such, the appeals court held that because the defendant breached the contract that made the plaintiff the prevailing party for an award of both costs and fees. Id.

Thus, this most recent case law establishes that a Plaintiff can be awarded attorneys fees and costs even if no damages are awarded if it is established that the Defendant breached the contract.