ONCE A DEFENDANT FILES “ANY PAPER” THE RULE REQUIRES SERVICE OF NOTICE OF APPLICATION FOR DEFAULT AND REQUIRES THE COURT AND NOT THE CLERK TO ENTER A DEFAULT.
Lannquist v. Munyon, 45 Fla. L Weekly D2641 (Fla. 4th DCA November 25, 2020).
INTERPLEADER IS A REMEDY THAT REQUIRES THE RETENTION OF FUNDS BEFORE DISTRIBUTION.
Broward Outpatient Medical Center v. Fenstersheib Law Group, 45 Fla. L Weekly D2642 (Fla. 4th DCA November 25, 2020):
Broward Outpatient Medical Center appealed a trial court’s order distributing interpleaded funds to a law firm, before determining the amount owed to each claimant and the priority of each claim to the funds.
The plaintiff in a personal injury case had sought treatment from the claimant medical providers, which the plaintiff received based on letters of protection (LOPs) issued by plaintiff and her lawyers to the providers.
After the case settled, the law firm deducted its contingency fee from the proceeds, determining that there were then insufficient funds to pay the outstanding bills. This led the plaintiff’s law firm to file a petition for interpleader, identifying both the medical providers and the plaintiff as claimants.
The Fourth District admonished that the very purpose of a suit in interpleader is to prevent the prosecution of other suits against the complainant, and to require those claiming the funds in the hands of the interpleader to litigate their differences among them. Thus, once the trial court determines that an interpleader action has been properly brought, the court should dispose of the entire controversy in a way that is binding on all the parties, without requiring further litigation of any nature.
By allowing the law firm to distribute its full contingency fee to itself while conflicting claims to the funds remained pending, the trial court disregarded the very purpose of the interpleader action. This ruling required the appellate court to reverse and remand to enable the trial court to assess everyone’s claims.