Hall v. Lopez (1st DCA)

The trial court denied the appellant’s motion for § 57.105 sanctions and attorney’s fees against the appellee in a domestic violence injunction case.  The First District reversed, holding that § 57.105 sanctions are available in such cases (specifically, in Chapter 784 and Chapter 741 cases).

The Court noted that its decision conflicted with opinions in the Fifth and Third Districts which held that such sanctions were not available in domestic violence injunction cases.

The Court also made an important tangent, addressing the appellant’s argument that the trial court had jurisdiction under its “inherent authority” to sanction the appellee for raising a frivolous claim.  Without devoting significant space to the issue, the Court found it important to note that this authority is “limited” and that “if a specific statute . . . applies, the trial court should rely on [it] rather than on inherent authority.”  This is important, because it means that if a party’s actions are potentially sanctionable under § 57.105, a trial court cannot sanction that party through an award of attorney’s fees unless the rules are requirements of § 57.105 have been followed.