law-attorneys-fees-in-eviction-case | attorney fee factors |
Attorney's Fees in Forcible Entry and Detainer Case (eviction proceeding)
In his second issue, Simmons argues that the county court's award of $2,000 in attorney's fees to Hollyview
was unreasonable because Hollyview's attorney testified that his rate was $150 per hour, "he only had 3 hours
of court time," and attorney's "fees are generally a percentage of the award not a multiplier."
Texas Property Code section 24.006 provides that, in an eviction suit, if the landlord provides the tenant the
notice required under that section "or if a written lease entitles the landlord to recover attorney's fees, a
prevailing landlord is entitled to recover reasonable attorney's fees from the tenant." Tex. Prop. Code Ann. §
24.006 (Vernon 2000); see also Tex. R. Civ. P. 752 (stating that recoverable damages may include attorneys's
fees in justice and county courts). In determining a reasonable amount of attorney's fee to award, a factfinder
should consider (1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the
skill required to perform the legal service 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 by 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. Arthur Andersen & Co. v. Perry Equip. Corp., 945 S.W.2d 812, 818 (Tex. 1997) (citing Tex.
Disciplinary R. Prof'l Conduct 1.04).
At the March 17, 2008 trial, consistent with the factors set forth above, Hollyview's attorney testified, among
other things, that his billing rate was $150 per hour, he specialized in forcible entry and detainer suits, his
billing rate was lower than those in his firm who also specialized in this type of work, he had drafted numerous
documents in the case, he had attended numerous hearings in the justice and county courts, he had reviewed
documents, he had spent time in contact with the court and his client, he had expended seventeen hours total
on the case, and his fees totaled $2,550. Hollyview's attorney also requested appellate attorney's fees as well
as court costs, and he provided the county court with an estimate of the appellate fees he anticipated accruing.
Simmons cross-examined Hollyview's attorney on the attorney's fees. The county court, based upon this
evidence, awarded Hollyview $2,000 in attorney's fees and did not provide a separate award for appellate fees.
We hold that the county court's award of attorney's fees to Hollyview was reasonable and was supported by the
evidence detailed above and that the county court did not abuse its discretion in awarding Hollyview these
fees. See Whitmire v. Greenridge Place Apartments, No. 01-06-00963-CV, 2007 WL 2894167, at *4-5 (Tex.
App.--Houston [1st Dist.] Oct. 4, 2007, pet. dism'd) (reviewing, and affirming, attorney's fees awarded in forcible
entry and detainer suit).
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