Barnett v. Schiro (Per Curiam)

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Justia Opinion Summary

The Supreme Court remanded this case to the trial court for a redetermination of attorney's fees consistent with the Court's decision in Rohrmoos Venture v. UTSW DVA Healthcare, LLP, __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. 2019), also decided today, holding that, having clarified the law governing the award of attorney's fees, remand was necessary.

Plaintiff brought a suit against Defendant for unpaid legal fees. The jury awarded the amount sought to Plaintiff. Plaintiff also sought attorney's fees pursuant to Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 38.001. After hearing expert testimony about the reasonableness and necessity of the attorney's fees, the jury awarded attorney's fees. Defendant filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, arguing that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the fee award. The trial court denied the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court for a redetermination of attorney's fees consistent with its decision in Rohrmoos Venture.

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IN THE SUPREME COURT OF TEXAS 444444444444 NO. 18-0278 444444444444 DANIEL S. BARNETT AND ABOVO CORPORATION, PETITIONER, v. RICHARD B. SCHIRO, RESPONDENT 4444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444 ON PETITION FOR REVIEW FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH DISTRICT OF TEXAS 4444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444 PER CURIAM The sole issue presented in this case is whether the evidence offered by the prevailing party was sufficient to support the reasonable attorney’s fees awarded pursuant to section 38.001 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. In Rohrmoos Venture v. UTSW DVA Healthcare, LLP, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2019), we clarified the legal and evidentiary requirements for shifting attorney’s fees from the prevailing party to the non-prevailing party. Id. at ___. Here, attorney Richard Schiro represented Daniel Barnett and his individual retirement account (IRA) as defendants in a suit brought in 2011 by Kirtland Realty Group. Kirtland and Barnett, as well as Kirtland and Barnett’s IRA, ultimately reached settlement agreements. Schiro then brought a suit for unpaid legal fees against Barnett for $183,673. The jury awarded that same amount to Schiro, which is unchallenged and is not the subject of this appeal. In addition to the unpaid legal fees, Schiro requested “reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs” pursuant to section 38.001 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. After hearing expert testimony about the reasonableness and necessity of the attorney’s fees, the jury awarded attorney’s fees of $131,786.11 for trial and contingent appellate awards if Barnett unsuccessfully appealed to the court of appeals or this Court. Barnett filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, asserting that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the section 38.001 fee award. The trial court denied the motion and entered judgment in favor of Schiro. The court of appeals affirmed. ___ S.W.3d ___, ___ (Tex. App.—Dallas 2018) (mem. op.). In Rohrmoos Venture, we explained the prevailing party’s evidentiary burden and the standard for shifting reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees to the non-prevailing party. ___ S.W.3d at ___. Having clarified the law governing the award of attorney’s fees, we reverse the court of appeals’ judgment affirming the award of attorney’s fees and, without hearing oral argument, we remand the case to the trial court for a redetermination of attorney’s fees consistent with our decision in Rohrmoos Venture. See TEX. R. APP. P. 59.1. OPINION DELIVERED: April 26, 2019 2
Primary Holding
The Supreme Court remanded this case to the trial court for a redetermination of attorney's fees consistent with the Court's decision in Rohrmoos Venture v. UTSW DVA Healthcare, LLP, __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. 2019), also decided today, holding that, having clarified the law governing the award of attorney's fees, remand was necessary.

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