First DCA Holds 284.30 notice must be given to collect 119 attorney fees

In a case decided today, full opinion here, DEO v. Consumer Rights LLC, the First District overturned a trial court award of about $150,000 in fees and costs for a plaintiff that prevailed in a public records, chapter 119 request against a state agency. The basis for reversal was that the plaintiffs had not complied with the notice requirements of 284.30 that required a copy of the complaint to be served on DFS, if attorney fees are sought against a state agency.

The Statute provides

A party to a suit in any court, to be entitled to have his or her attorney’s fees paid by the state or any of its agencies, must serve a copy of the pleading claiming the fees on the Department of Financial Services; and thereafter the department shall be entitled to participate with the agency in the defense of the suit and any appeal thereof with respect to such fees.

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