State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co. v. Best Medical Treatments, Inc.—(Per Curiam Scales, Lindsey, & Bokor; 3DCA; 1/4/23). This peculiar appeal resulted from a car accident case, where State Farm lost at trial. The trial court awarded attorneys fees and costs, and instead of appealing anything substantive about the case, State Farm appealed the issue of who should receive the check for fees—the lawyer or the client. Best Medical is a medical care provider that sued State Farm for $5,000 in past-due PIP benefits provided to three insureds. Best Medical received an assignment of benefits (“AOB”) from all three insureds. Notably, Attorney DePrimo sought $600/hr, and State Farm only sought to limit the rate to $550/hr. Only 0.2 of the attorney’s hours were disputed. The trial court awarded the amount sought by State Farm, awarding the amount directly to the attorney. On appeal, the DCA agreed with State Farm that attorney fee awards are to be paid to a party, not the attorney. Section 627.428(1) was the applicable fee statute, and the recipient described is the insured or named beneficiary. Reversed and remanded.
Terry P. Roberts
Director of Appellate Practice Fischer Redavid PLLC