The law firm of Plews Shadley Racher and Braun LLP (“PSRB”), as intervenor, appeals the trial court’s order awarding attorney fees to the Estate of Timothy P. Brazill (“Estate”) and to attorney Judy G. Hester (“Hester”) for actions by PSRB on behalf of its client James W. Smyth.
Conclusion (slip op. at 18-19): We acknowledge that the record may include some questionable litigation tactics that might support the trial court’s exercise of its discretion to award attorney fees. However, our review in that regard is impaired by the fact that the order appealed does not provide us with any insight as to the trial court’s reason for the award of attorney fees in this case, i.e., what the trial court found to be frivolous, unreasonable, and bad faith conduct. Accordingly, we remand to the trial court for further consideration and explanation of its judgment in that regard. Reversed and remanded.
Key Analysis (slip op. at 18): In reviewing an award of statutory attorney fees, we “must leave breathing room for zealous advocacy and access to the court to vindicate rights,” and “be sensitive to these considerations and view claims of frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless claims or defenses with suspicion.”