Edward A. Wallace Argues For A Second Time Before Florida Court Of Appeals
Edward A. Wallace of Wexler Wallace LLP argued yesterday in front of the Third District Court of Appeal of Florida in Browning v. Angelfish Swim School, et al., No. 03-13413 CA 21. Wallace and his co-counsel, Andrew T. Trailor and former Florida Supreme Court Chief Judge Gerald Kogan, represent two small Florida businesses and a class of all persons and entities who paid late or reinstatement fees to the Florida Secretary of State pursuant to Florida law. The suit alleges that the late and reinstatement fees are excessive and unconstitutional fines pursuant to Florida and Federal law.
The present appeal concerned whether or not a class was properly certified by the trial court where Plaintiffs’ counsel had agreed to fund the cost of litigation consistent with the rules regulating the Florida Bar. The State argued that, unless the Plaintiffs themselves agreed to pay all litigation costs, no class should be certified. In certifying the class, the trial court stated:
The Court also finds the Plaintiffs will thoroughly and adequately prosecute this action. As their resumes demonstrate, Plaintiffs’ counsels are qualified, experienced, and generally able to conduct the proposed litigation. The Court notes that Plaintiffs’ counsels have extensive experience in the prosecution and successful resolution of complex class actions throughout the United States. Browning v. Angelfish Swim School, et al., No. 03-13413 CA 21 (Fla. Cir. Ct. June 10, 2010).
The Secretary of State of Florida appealed that decision and argued that the Plaintiffs themselves had to show they had the financial capacity to fund the litigation. As explained in Plaintiffs’ brief, “[a]ccess to the Courts in the United States of America has never been, nor should it ever be, a function of one’s wealth. The constitutional ramifications of a ‘wealthy litigant’ requirement would be monumental and strike at the heart of our judicial system.”
Wexler Wallace was not alone in their interpretation of the law: the National Association for Consumer Advocates, Public Justice, Public Interest Law Section of the Florida Bar, Florida’s Children First, Inc., Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc., and the Florida Justice Association all filed as amici curiae in support of Plaintiffs’ position.
For information with respect to this matter, please contact Edward A. Wallace at 312-346-2222, or co-counsel Andrew T. Trailor at 305-668-6090.