may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Viking Electric Supply, Inc., et al.,
Hicks Construction Co., Inc., et al.,
United Fire & Casualty Company, et al.,
Scaffold Service Incorporated,
Golden Valley Supply Co.,
Hicks Construction, et al.,
Viking Electric Supply Inc., et al.,
Scaffold Service Incorporated,
Filed December 31, 1996
St. Louis County District Court
File No. C794600582
Richard G. Hicks, 340 S. Lake Avenue, Duluth, MN 55802 (Pro Se Respondent )
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Harten, Judge.
Scaffold Service Incorporated (Scaffold) challenges the district court's determination of the amount of attorney fees owed to Scaffold by Hicks Construction Co., Inc. (Hicks Construction) pursuant to an agreement between the parties. We affirm.
Scaffold's claim for costs and attorney fees was based on a leasing agreement between Scaffold and Hicks Construction and Richard Hick's personal guaranty, which authorizes Scaffold to recover all costs and attorney fees incurred in enforcing the contracts. In response to objections from Hicks, the district court did not award Scaffold all the attorney fees it requested. Scaffold argues the district court has no discretion or authority to make a partial award because the contract expressly authorizes Scaffold to recover all attorney fees. We disagree.
When a contract authorizes a party to recover attorney fees, the courts will enforce it as long as the fees are reasonable. State Bank v. Ziehwein, 510 N.W.2d 268, 270 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Minn. Mar. 15, 1994). The district court has broad discretion in determining the reasonable amount of attorney fees. Bloomington Elec. Co. v. Freeman's, Inc., 394 N.W.2d 605, 608 (Minn. App. 1986), review denied (Minn. Dec. 17, 1986). Therefore, even though the contracts of the parties allow Scaffold to recover all attorney fees, the district court, in its discretion, may reduce the amount as appropriate.
In determining the reasonable amount of attorney fees, the district court should consider "the time and effort required, value of the interest involved, and results secured at trial." Id. "The amount of the award should be in reasonable relation to the amount of the judgment secured." Id. Courts, generally, do not allow the award of the full amount of attorney fees, particularly where the amount of the recovery is small in comparison to the attorney fees assessed. See id. (attorney fees reduced from $11,150 to $5,000 because the recovery obtained was approximately $12,000); Asp v. O'Brien, 277 N.W.2d 382, 385 (Minn. 1979) (award of attorney fees reduced from $2,400 to $1,000 because the lien awarded was $4,359.46).
Here, Scaffold's total recovery was $32,120.20, and Scaffold sought to recover a total of $21,198 in attorney fees. The district court ultimately granted Scaffold $9,712 in attorney fees. Given the fact that the amount of recovery was small compared with the attorney fees claimed, we conclude the district court did not abuse its discretion in reducing the attorney fees.