final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Rodney
Smith, Judge, and Victoria S. Sigler and Judith L. Kreeger,
Senior Judges. Lower Tribunal Consolidated Nos. 13-26294 and
Guadayol, for appellants.
Law, P.A., and William G. Essig, for appellee.
SUAREZ, C.J., and SALTER and SCALES, JJ.
Gonzalez and Ida Leal ("Owners"), individual
condominium unit owners and members of appellee,
International Park Condominium I Association, Inc.
("Association"), appeal a final judgment awarding
attorney's fees and costs to the Association in the
consolidated circuit court cases below. The issue presented
is whether the Owners or the Association prevailed on the
substantial issues in the lawsuits. Shands Teaching Hosp.
& Clinics, Inc. v. Mercury Ins. Co. of Fla., 97
So.3d 204, 213 (Fla. 2012). We find that the Owners prevailed
on those issues, and thus vacate the final judgment of
attorney's fees and costs entered February 29, 2016, as
well as the earlier order on the Association's
entitlement to such fees and costs.
circuit court case 12-690, the Association petitioned for
appointment of a receiver for the 75 units within the
312-unit condominium that were delinquent in their payment of
assessments, section 718.116(6)(c), Florida Statutes (2012).
The circuit court granted the petition and appointed a
receiver for the delinquent units in late 2012. In early
2013, the receiver sought a modification of the receivership
order to grant the receiver blanket authority to cast votes
on behalf of those members then owning the units which were
delinquent in paying assessments. The receiver's motion
for modification was granted.
April 2013, one of the Owners (appellee Maria Gonzalez) filed
an emergency motion to limit the receiver's authority to
cast any votes for units subject to the receivership,
"as it would be in direct violation of the
Association's governing documents and contrary to Florida
law." The trial court denied Ms. Gonzalez's motion.
Thereafter, the initially-appointed receiver was discharged
by the trial court for cause and a successor was appointed.
August 2013, the Owners filed a separate action (circuit
court case 13-26294) against the Association to compel the
Association to comply with the Declaration of Condominium
("Declaration"), its articles of incorporation, its
bylaws, and statutory provisions regarding voting rights for
the unit owner/members ineligible to vote because of their
delinquencies in the payment of assessments.The 2013 and 2012
circuit court cases were consolidated in 2014.
November 2014, the circuit court discharged the successor
receiver on the court's own motion. The court then
entered an order appointing a successor as receiver, but that
order eliminated the prior receivers' power to vote on
behalf of unit owners who were delinquent in their payment of
assessments. That order substantially granted the relief
sought by the Owners in circuit court case 13-26294. The
Owners and the Association filed cross-motions for summary
judgment, and in 2015 the then-presiding circuit
judge reaffirmed during a hearing that she had
"already stripped the receiver of [the delinquent unit
owners' voting] rights, " the relief sought by the
no further action necessary in the cases, the circuit court
then entered a final judgment in favor of the Association and
reserved jurisdiction regarding the Association's motion
for an award of attorney's fees and court costs.
Following the retirement of the circuit judge who entered
that final judgment, another circuit judge entered an order
of entitlement to attorney's fees and costs in favor of
the Association, but did not fix the amount of attorney's
fees and costs. A third circuit judge then conducted an
evidentiary hearing on the amount of attorney's fees and
costs, and on ...