Sanctions: A Florida Panel Gives a Litigant 15 Days to Pay Appellate Mediation Sanctions (Web)

In Hernando County School Board v. Nazar, Case No. 5D05-1623, 2006 Fla. App. Lexis 1996 (Fla. 5th DCA June 30, 2006)(available at the Opinions link at http://www.5dca.org), Florida's Fifth District Court of Appeal piled an enforcement order on top of a sanction for failure to comply with a mediation order.

The most recent decision in the matter resulted in an order under which a sanctioned party had 15 days to pay his half of a mediator’s fee, as well as his adversary’s attorneys fees and costs.

Hernando County was discussed on the CPR Recent News scroll on May 26, 2006; the article is available via the archive function at the top of the page of current news stories.

The latest opinion, by Judge William D. Palmer, was issued on the Hernando County School Board’s “notice of non-compliance” with Palmer's Feb.17, 2006, opinion.

As discussed in the May 26 Recent News scroll item on Doorstep Beverages of Longwood Inc. v. Collier--another sanctions case for failure to appear at court-ordered mediation--the Hernando County School board sought sanctions against an appellee, Paul Nazar, and his attorney, Peter Capua, of Miami's Lorenzo & Capua, for their failure to appear at court-ordered appellate mediation.

In the February ruling, Palmer sanctioned both the attorney and the client for failing to file a motion seeking permission to be excused from the mediation. Each were ordered to pay 50% of the appellate mediator’s fees.

Attorney Capua had attempted to appear by telephone, but the referral order mandated an in-person appearance, so he, too, was sanctioned.

According to the recent opinion, Capua paid his half. But Judge Palmer responded to Hernando County's notice that Nazar had failed to pay both his half of the mediator's fee and reasonable attorney's fees and costs by ordering Nazar to pay the mediator's fees within 15 days from the date of the opinion.

The court also states that Nazar's answer brief will be stricken if he fails to comply with the 15-day time limit. Therefore, if the mediator's fees have not been paid by mid-July, then the court will decide the appeal’s merits without taking into account Nazar's answer brief.

The court also concluded that the legal fees should be promptly split by Nazar and his attorney after they are determined by a hearing before the trial judge, which Palmer ordered to be scheduled.

--John Ousley, CPR Intern