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In Point of Error No. Two, Cordova contends that the fees were unnecessary. Some statutes authorize recovery of attorney's fees only if the fees are both "reasonable" and "necessary. See Murrco Agency, Inc. Ryan , S. Pierce , S. See Barshop v. Collin County , S. However, the fees here were awarded pursuant to Section Point of Error No. Two is overruled. Three, Cordova complains that the fees were inequitable while in Point of Error No. Four, he maintains that the fees were unjust. He directs us to Abraxas Petroleum Corp.
Hornburg , 20 S.
His reliance is misplaced, however, since Abraxas involved fees awarded pursuant to the Declaratory Judgments Act, not Section See id. To recover under the Declaratory Judgments Act, the prevailing party must demonstrate not only that the fees are reasonable and necessary but that the award is equitable and just. See Barshop , S. When fees are awarded under Section Points of Error Nos. Three and Four are overruled. Nine, Cordova claims that some of the fees sought related to the defense of his counterclaim, which was separate from the simple suit on a sworn account.
SWBYP counters that while Cordova sought no affirmative relief by the time of trial, he used his counterclaims to obtain an offset for the amount he owed. Since the essence of Cordova's counterclaim was that a misrepresentation was made to induce the contract, SWBYP argues that it had to defeat Cordova's counterclaim in order to collect its debt and concludes that the claims were interrelated. A party may recover attorney fees rendered in connection with all claims if they arise out of the same transaction and are "so interrelated that their prosecution or defense entails proof or denial of essentially the same facts.
Intercontinental Pipe Steel, Inc. Fees attributable to the defense of a counterclaim are not recoverable unless the facts necessary for the plaintiff to recover also serve to defeat the counterclaim. RepublicBank Dallas, N. Shook , S. Central Soya Co. Bain , S. During his opening statement, Cordova's counsel stated that Cordova could not demonstrate any actual damage to his business as a result of the alleged misrepresentations. He admitted that the counterclaim was "more in the nature of a defensive pleading where he [wa]s requesting. When Cordova's counsel was asked whether this stipulation also applied to Cordova's fraud claim, counsel admitted that the fraud claim was a defense, not a claim for affirmative relief.
Because Cordova pled his counterclaim as an affirmative defense, SWBYP had to overcome his claims of misrepresentation in order to prevail on its debt collection. See RepublicBank , S. Consequently, an overlap existed in the time charged in developing the case and SWBYP did not need to segregate its attorney's fees between claims. Nine is overruled.
In his remaining issues for review, Cordova argues that the fee award was unreasonable.
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One is a global challenge to the reasonableness of the fee. Five he claims that the fees injured him while in Point of Error No. Six he argues that the fees prejudiced him. Seven, he argues that the fee did not bear a reasonable relationship to the amount in controversy. Ten complains of the sufficiency of the evidence to support a finding that the fees were reasonable. In determining whether the award is excessive, we are entitled to look at the entire record and to view the matter in the light of the testimony, the amount in controversy, the nature of the case, and our own common knowledge and experience as lawyers and judges.
McFadden v. Bresler Malls, Inc. Reese , S. The factors most frequently considered by courts in determining whether attorney's fees are reasonable are: 1 the time and labor involved, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill required to perform the legal services properly; 2 the likelihood that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer; 3 the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services; 4 the amount involved and the results obtained; 5 the time limitations imposed by the client or the circumstances; 6 the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client; 7 the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and 8 whether the fee is fixed or contingent on results obtained or uncertainty of collection before the legal services have been rendered.
Academy Corp. Interior Buildout Turnkey Const. Perry Equip. Attorney's fees must bear some reasonable relationship to the amount in controversy. Republic Nat. Life Ins. Heyward , S. But the amount of damages awarded is but one factor in determining the reasonableness of a fee award. The award here was not excessive despite the fact that the fees were greater than the damages. See Stuckey v.
White , S. Even fees which amount to three times the amount of actual damages may be reasonable, depending on the facts of the case. This was not a simple debt collection. By his counterclaim, Cordova requested damages for lost profits, attorney's fees, court costs, prejudgment interest, and exemplary damages.
Despite the knowledge that Cordova had no evidence of actual damages, this information was not related to SWBYP until the day of trial a year later. And so, as it turned out, the trial itself was not complicated. But the preparation was. Seven is overruled. He maintains that If the prevailing party has overprepared the case, then the party liable for attorney's fees should not be held responsible for time spent in overpreparation. Giles v.
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Cardenas , S. Candlewood Builders, Inc. Garza , S. We disagree that the case was overworked.
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Cordova admitted the day of trial that he was not pursuing his counterclaim, a fact he had withheld for a year. Eight is overruled. Based upon the record, we conclude that the fee award was reasonable. Consequently, we find no abuse of discretion that has injured or prejudiced Cordova.
One, Five, and Six are overruled. Finally, we turn to the sufficiency of the evidence to support the award. SWBYP has conceded the mistake. We sustain Point of Error No. The judgment is affirmed as reformed. Back to Results. Download Print Get alerts.