Low and behold, a party can be the prevailing party for purposes of attorney’s fees even if that party is awarded $0. That’s right, even if the party is awarded a big fat zero, they can still be the prevailing party for purposes of being entitled to attorney’s fees. This is because a party is the prevailing party if they prevail on the significant issues in the case. A party can prevail on the significant issues even if that party is awarded $0. Whoa!
For example, in Coconut Key Homeowner’s Association, Inc. v. Gonzalez, 43 Fla.L.Weekly D1045a (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), a homeowner sued her homeowner’s association claiming the association breached its governing documents. There was a basis for fees under Florida’s homeowner’s association law (and there likely was a basis under the governing documents). At trial, the jury held that the association breached its governing documents, but awarded the homeowner nothing ($0). The trial court also issued injunctive relief in favor of the homeowner. The homeowner claimed she should be deemed the prevailing party for purposes of attorney’s fees; however, this was denied by the trial court based on the $0 verdict and no fees were awarded to the homeowner.