Law Office of Christopher J. Gray, P.C. won an appeal to Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals in West Palm Beach concerning a client’s entitlement to attorneys’ fees under Florida’s Blue Sky law, Fla. Stat. § 517.301. The attorneys’ fees sought arise from a $765,000 arbitration award that the Gray firm won in Raubvogel v. Credit Suisse, FINRA Case No. 09-02906. In the underlying award the arbitration panel found that claimants were the prevailing party on their claim for violation of Fla. Stat. § 517.301 but further stated that it “chose not to award attorneys’ fees.”
Due to an unusual wrinkle of Florida law, however, a prevailing party under Fla. Stat. § 517.301 is entitled to seek an award of attorney’s fees in court after winning an arbitration award unless he expressly waives this right. The court below ruled that the Raubvogels waived their right to seek attorney’s fees in court by asking for an award of attorney’s fees in their arbitration papers. The Court of Appeals disagreed, stating that under its precedents an “express waiver” such as an on-the-record stipulation was required in order for a party to give up its right to seek attorney’s fees in court.
The Fourth District Court of Appeals decision is accessible below. The initial arbitration award is accessible at http://www.investorlawyers.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/1.pdf.13.2.20 order on appeal