final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit,
Broward County; Thomas M. Lynch IV, Judge; L.T. Case No. CACE
S. Rogow and Tara A. Campion of Bruce S. Rogow, P.A., Fort
Lauderdale, and Stephen J. Simmons of Mombach, Boyle, Hardin
& Simmons, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, for appellant.
Kenneth E. Keechl of Kenneth E. Keechl, P.A., Wilton Manors,
case presents several issues for our consideration. First,
whether the evidence supported an oral cohabitation agreement
and, if so, whether the evidence supported the damage award.
Second, whether the appellant was entitled to partition
credits for expenses paid using funds belonging to both
parties. Third, whether alleged inconsistencies among the
trial court's pronouncements requires reversal where the
trial court confirmed, after a post-judgment hearing, that
the final judgment reflected its intent.
that the evidence supported an oral cohabitation agreement,
but that the damage award should have been for a lesser
amount, as conceded by the appellee. We further find that the
trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to
award partition credits. Finally, we find that any
inconsistencies in the trial court's pronouncements were
resolved when the court re-affirmed the final judgment.
November 2013, Anthony Armao filed a complaint against
Russell Turnbull for partition of real property they owned as
joint tenants with rights of survivorship. In addition to
half of the sale proceeds, Armao sought credits for expenses
paid on the property. Turnbull denied that Armao was entitled
to any credits and counterclaimed for breach of an oral
cohabitation and support agreement.
joint pre-trial stipulation, the parties agreed, inter alia,
that their social security checks were deposited into a joint
checking account. Numerous expenses related to the home were
paid from their joint checking account. They sold property
together, made loans together, and filed a joint suit to
recover on a loan. Checks payable in both their names were
deposited into Armao's trust account, including proceeds
from the sale of joint property.
trial, Turnbull testified that within a couple of years of
meeting Armao, they entered into an oral cohabitation
agreement. They discussed how they would work together, live
together, provide for each other, and take care of each
other. They agreed to move in together, to be a couple, and
take care of each other financially and emotionally,
"just like a married couple." They agreed that all
their income, investments, assets, and inheritances would be
combined and used to pay their current and future expenses.
Turnbull presented evidence, and the trial court determined,
that the parties' held themselves out as a couple during
their forty-six year relationship. They had a blessing
ceremony and anniversary parties. They lived together in
Rhode Island and then retired together in Florida. They lived
in several different homes until they purchased the home that
is the subject of the partition action. They created
identical trusts and wills leaving everything to each other.
made the decisions in their relationship, including their
financial decisions, and consequently handled all the money.
The parties worked together at Armao's family's
business. Over the years, Turnbull earned approximately $500,
000. He turned all his paychecks over to Armao.
to entering into a relationship with Armao, Turnbull owned a
house. When that property was sold, Turnbull turned the
proceeds over to Armao. Before purchasing the home at issue
in this case, the parties owned a condominium together. When
they sold the condominium for $289, 000, the proceeds from
the sale went into Armao's trust account. The parties
purchased a yacht together and, when they sold the yacht for
a net profit of $135, 000, the sale proceeds went into
Armao's account. The parties also made a number of joint
loans together. When Turnbull's mother died, Turnbull
gave his inheritance money-approximately $460, 000-to Armao.
balances in five Wells Fargo accounts in Armao's name
totaled $1, 048, 448. Turnbull sought half of this
amount-$509, 224-as representing half of ...