• Amount of Attorneys' Fees Awarded Is Not Limited to Size of Judgment
  • August 19, 2016 | Authors: Edward J. Levin; Margaret M. Witherup
  • Law Firm: Gordon Feinblatt LLC - Baltimore Office
  • As a step in the development of a high-rise apartment building in Bethesda, Bainbridge St. Elmo Bethesda Apartments, LLC obtained an easement and agreement from its neighbor White Flint Express Realty Group Limited Partnership, LLLP. Bethesda violated provisions of the agreement relating to the construction, and litigation ensued between the parties. The parties settled all open matters except for White Flint's claim for attorneys' fees. The Circuit Court for Montgomery County awarded White Flint $3,520,256.59 in attorneys' fees and $411,39.88 in costs. On appeal, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed. Bainbridge St. Elmo Bethesda Apartments, LLC v. White Flint Express Realty Group Ltd. P'ship, LLLP, No. 376 Sept. Term 2014, 2016 WL 1321205 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Apr. 5, 2016).

    The Court of Special Appeals held that the following clause in the agreement was sufficient to allow White Flint to recover attorneys' fees for first-party claims in addition to third-party claims:

    Indemnity. Bainbridge hereby indemnifies and agrees to defend and hold harmless White Flint . . . from any and all claims, demands, debts, actions, causes of action, suits, obligations, losses, costs, expenses, fees, and liabilities (including reasonable attorney's fees, disbursements, and litigation costs) arising from or in connection with Bainbridge's breach of any terms of this agreement . . .

    The court discussed the necessity and reasonableness of the fees that White Flint claimed, and it affirmed the award of the circuit court because of the "ferocious advocacy and multitudinous documents" in the litigation. The court noted that it had affirmed awards for attorneys' fees where the amount of the award was greater than the damages award.