The attorneys at Coquina Law Group recently prevailed at the appellate level before the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal. In the lower court, Plaintiff was seeking approximately $400,000 in damages under a lease entered with our client. Our client counter claimed that Plaintiff breached the lease by failing to maintain the roof and sought to reclaim its deposit, last month’s rent, and reimbursement for service charges billed by Plaintiff. At docket sounding, the Plaintiff agreed to limit the issues at trial to whether the breach of contract was the result of a failing roof or the HVAC. If the damages were the result of the HVAC, our client breached the contract and Plaintiff would be entitled to recover damage. If the leaks were the result of the failing roof, Plaintiff breached the lease and the Defendant would be entitled to its damages. The trial court found that the roof was the cause of the leaks and that Plaintiff breached the lease. Two judgments were entered by the trial court totaling approximately $150,000 in damages representing return of the deposit, invoices for repairs and attorney’s fees and costs.
Plaintiff appealed both final judgments arguing that the trial court erred applying the incorrect law and erred by denying Plaintiff’s last-minute motion to continue the trial based on a witness, not being able to attend the entire trial as the Plaintiff’s corporate representative due to a family emergency. The witness was an employee of the property management company and not the landlord. The witness, however, did testify at trial.
The two appeals were consolidated. The parties unsuccessfully mediated the appellate issues. Briefs on the merits were filed by both sides. The initial brief set forth Plaintiff’s argument of error with numerous misapplications of the law. The answer brief contested the facts of the initial brief and raised the issue that the Plaintiff waived the arguments now appealed by the stipulation the parties entered into at docket sounding. Both parties sought appellate attorney’s fees and costs. Plaintiff sought oral argument which was held at the Fifth District Court of Appeal. After oral argument and consideration of the arguments raised by the parties, the Fifth District affirmed the trial court, granted Defendant’s motion for attorney’s fees and remanded the case to the lower court for assessment of the amount of Defendant’s appellate attorney’s fees and costs.