From the remote trial of K.B. Mathis P.A. v. Argyros.
Jacksonville, FL— Jurors Thursday awarded roughly $36,000 to a Florida law firm at trial over fees it sought to collect from a woman it represented, wrapping the Florida Fourth Circuit’s second fully remote jury trial in as many months.
Thursday’s verdict found Agatha Argyros breached her contract with K.B. Mathis P.A. and awarded the lion's share of the more than $55,000 the firm said was still due in attorney fees for Kelly Mathis’s representation of Argyros on criminal, gambling house charges.
The two-day trial, held over Zoom and available on demand via CVN, from jury selection through verdict, focused largely on the parties’ agreement and expectations surrounding work on the case.
Argyros claims fees were to be capped at $25,000. During Thursday’s closings, Argyros’s attorney, Gerasimos Theophilopoulos, painted Mathis as an attorney inexperienced in working criminal cases who wrongly assumed the case against Argyros would be dismissed, and who misrepresented the fees that he would charge.
Argyros was ultimately found guilty in the criminal trial against her.
“The bill is more than anyone could have imagined... it is a runaway train bill,” Theophilopoulos told jurors, adding that Argyros never would have hired Mathis if she believed the total fees would approach $75,000. “You don’t pay for misrepresentations and mistakes.”
But Mathis argued he never agreed to cap fees at $25,000, claiming that the agreement provided for both a $25,000 retainer and referred to invoices that implied charges could go higher than $25,000. And he contended that language in the agreement made clear that there was no guarantee on how the case would progress.
“Do most cases go to trial? Absolutely not. That’s why I don’t quote a $75,000 retainer,” Mathis said. “That’s why, when you take your car in for an oil change, they don’t quote you the cost for a new engine, although it might happen from time to time that you need a new engine.”
This is the second fully remote jury trial for the Florida Fourth Circuit, as part of a state pilot project to study whether remote jury trials can be run safely during covid-related court disruptions. The Circuit’s first trial, in August, was believed to be the nation’s first fully remote civil jury trial to reach a verdict.
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.