Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Florida Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court concluded that a unilateral attorney's fee provision in a note and mortgage was made reciprocal to a borrower under Fla. Stat. 57.105(7) where the borrower prevailed in a foreclosure action in which the plaintiff bank established standing to enforce the note and mortgage at the time of trial but not at the time suit was filed, holding that the statutory conditions were met.The Fourth District Court of Appeal held that a borrower who successfully argues that the bank lacked standing at the time suit was filed could not rely on the contract to obtain attorney's fees under section 57.105(7). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the borrowers were eligible to recover reciprocal fees under the statute because the conditions in the statute's two clauses were satisfied here. View "Page v. Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court approved the decision of the Second District Court of Appeal in this foreclosure case, holding that the proper predicate for admission of records into evidence under the business records exception to the hearsay rule can be laid by a qualified witness testifying to the foundational elements of the exception.Household Finance Corp III (HFC) field a foreclosure complaint against Petitioners, alleging that Petitioners defaulted under the terms of the note and mortgage. During trial, HFC moved certain documents, including the original note, mortgage, and loan payment history, into evidence. Counsel for Petitioners objected on grounds of hearsay, claiming that the witness testifying as to the foundational elements of the business records exception to the hearsay rule failed to lay a foundation upon which to testify as to the records or to authenticate he documents based on personal knowledge. The trial judge overruled the objection and admitted the records into evidence. The trial court entered final judgment of mortgage foreclosure for HFC. The Second District affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the testimony of a qualified witness confirming the presence of each foundation requirement of the business records exception constitutes a sufficient predicate for the admission of records under the business records exception to the hearsay rule. View "Jackson v. Household Finance Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the First District Court of Appeal regarding whether the circuit court presiding over a foreclosure action has continuing jurisdiction to consider a third-party purchaser's motion to recover the value of repairs and improvements made to the property he purchased at a foreclosure sale that was later vacated, holding that the circuit court had continuing jurisdiction to consider the purchaser's motion for damages.The First District concluded that the circuit court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the purchaser's third-party motion for damages after it rendered the final judgment of foreclosure. The Supreme Court disagreed and quashed the First District's decision, holding that the circuit court presiding over the foreclosure action had continuing jurisdiction to consider the purchaser's motion for damages for repairs and improvements he made to the property he purchased at the foreclosure sale that was later vacated. View "Griffin v. LaSalle Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Fourth District Court of Appeal on the question of whether a voluntary dismissal provides a basis for being considered the prevailing party for the purpose of appellate attorney fees, holding that the court of appeal improperly denied appellate attorney’s fees based on the bank’s voluntary dismissal of the appeal.Appellant, a homeowner, sought appellate attorney’s fees pursuant to Fla. Stat. 57.105(7) after a bank filed a notice of voluntary dismissal in the court of appeal. The court of appeal concluded that Appellant was not entitled to appellate attorney’s fees because she prevailed on her standing argument presented in the trial court. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding (1) caselaw makes clear that a voluntary dismissal of an appeal renders the opposing party the prevailing party for the purpose of appellate attorney fees; and (2) Appellant was entitled to appellate attorney fees because the bank maintained its right to enforce the reverse mortgage contract in its appeal until the dismissal. View "Glass v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this dispute between the former record owners of certain real property and a subordinate lienholder over surplus funds resulting from a judicial foreclosure sale of the property, the Supreme Court held that the statutory requirement that a claim to surplus funds be filed within sixty days after the sale begins upon the clerk’s issuance of the certificate of disbursements.The crux of this dispute was whether the subordinate lien holder timely filed its claim to the surplus amount under chapter 45 of the Florida Statutes, which governs judicial sales. Specifically, the parties argued over whether the sixty-day period begins upon the public auction of the property, the clerk’s issuance of the certificate of title, or some other event. The Second District Court of Appeal ruled that the subordinate lienholder’s claim was untimely because it was not filed within sixty days of the public auction. The Supreme Court quashed the Second District’s decision, holding (1) the meaning of “60 days after the sale” as used in chapter 45 in the context of claims to surplus funds is sixty days after the clerk issues the certificate of disbursements; and (2) therefore, the subordinate lienholder’s claim to the surplus was timely filed before the expiration of that sixty-day period. View "Bank of New York Mellon v. Glenville" on Justia Law

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Fla. Stat. 702.06 permits an independent action at law for a deficiency judgment when the foreclosure court has expressly reserved jurisdiction to handle a deficiency claim but has not actually decided the merits of the claim.Heather Lanham’s residential property was foreclosed by final judgment that expressly reserved jurisdiction to rule on any future deficiency claim. Dyck-O’Neal, Inc., which was assigned the mortgage and note, filed a separate action at law against Lanham seeking a deficiency judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment for Lanham. The First District Court of Appeal quashed the trial court’s decision, concluding that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the suit under Fla. Stat. 702.06 because the foreclosure court previously had reserved jurisdiction to handle the deficiency claim. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that section 702.06 plainly precludes the separate action only where the foreclosure court has actually ruled on the claim. View "Dyck-O'Neal, Inc. v. Lanham" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the petition of Petitioner seeking to invoke the Court’s discretionary jurisdiction based on express and direct conflict. Further, due to Petitioner’s numerous meritless and inappropriate filings in the Supreme Court pertaining to his foreclosure proceedings in the circuit court during the pendency of his petition for jurisdiction in this case, the Court sanctioned Petitioner by barring him from filing in the Court any future pro se pleadings, motions, or other requests for relief pertaining to his foreclosure proceedings. Counsel may file on Petitioner’s behalf if counsel determines that the proceeding may have merit and can be brought in good faith. View "Rivas v. Bank of New York Mellon" on Justia Law

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For purposes of applying the municipal or public purposes tax exemption contained in Fla. Const. art. VII, section 3(a), a public marina owned and operated by a municipality is a traditional municipal function that carries a presumption of tax-exempt status.The owners of a private marina in Fort Pierce filed a complaint challenging the tax-exempt status of the Fort Pierce City Marina and the Fisherman’s Wharf Marina. Plaintiffs’ amended complaint sought declaratory and injunctive relief on the basis that the property appraiser unconstitutionally granted ad valorem tax exemptions to the two marina properties owned and operated by the City of Fort Pierce and the Fort Pierce Redevelopment Agency (the City). The trial court ruled in favor of Plaintiffs, determining that neither of the City marinas qualified for the constitutional tax exemption. The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that municipal marinas are traditionally considered exempt from taxation. The Supreme Court approved the decision below, holding that Plaintiffs failed to meet their burden to rebut the presumption that the municipally-owned properties that were used exclusively by the City to provide traditional municipal functions were constitutionally exempt from ad valorem taxation. View "Treasure Coast Marina, LC v. City of Fort Pierce" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court approved the holding of the First District Court of Appeal in City of Jacksonville v. Smith, 159 So. 3d 888 (Fla. 1st CA 2015), that the Bert J. Harris Jr., Private Property Protection Act (Act) does not apply to claims from government action that regulates property adjacent to the claimant’s property and disapproved the Second District Court of Appeal’s contrary decision in FINR II, Inc. v. Hardee County, 164 So. 3d 1260 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015).Hardee County granted FINR, Inc., which operated a neurological rehabilitation center on a parcel adjacent to property owned by a phosphate mining company, a setback on the phosphate mining company’s adjacent property. Hardee County subsequently decreased the quarter-mile setback to as little as 150 feet. FINR brought a claim under the Act seeking $38 million in damages for devaluation of its property. The trial court concluded that the Act did not apply to FINR because the quarter-mile setback change did not directly restrict or limit FINR’s property. The Second District reversed and certified conflict with Smith. The Supreme Court disapproved the decision below, holding that the setback in this case was not a property right for which FINR may state a claim under the Act. View "Hardee County v. FINR II, Inc." on Justia Law

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MMB Properties filed a complaint alleging that Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando’s use of property located at a medical complex violated the Declaration of Restrictions. The complaint sought a permanent injunction preventing Planned Parenthood from performing certain activities. MMB Properties then filed a motion for a temporary injunction. The trial court granted the motion. Planned Parenthood filed a motion to modify or dissolve the temporary injunction, without success. Planned Parenthood appealed the temporary injunction and the denial of its motion to modify or dissolve the temporary injunction. The Fifth District Court of Appeal held that Planned Parenthood needed to establish changed circumstances in order to modify or dissolve the temporary injunction, which it did not do. The Fifth District also affirmed the portion of the temporary injunction enjoining Planned Parenthood from performing abortions. The Supreme Court quashed the Fifth District’s decision to the extent it affirmed the trial court’s temporary injunction, holding (1) a trial court abuses its discretion in not modifying or dissolving a temporary injunction when a party shows clear misapprehension of the facts or clear legal error, regardless of whether the movant shows changed circumstances; and (2) the order enjoining Planned Parenthood from performing abortions was not based on competent, substantial evidence. View "Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando, Inc. v. MMB Properties" on Justia Law