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Willens v. Willens

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

September 20, 2017

MICHAEL AND SARA WILLENS, Appellants,
v.
JOEL WILLENS AND LINDA WILLENS, Appellees.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED

         An appeal from the Circuit Court for Duval County. John Bradford Stetson, Jr., Judge.

          Kansas R. Gooden of Boyd & Jenerette, PA, Jacksonville, for Appellants.

          Harold S. Lippes of Lippes & Bryan, P.A., Ponte Vedra Beach, for Appellees.

          PER CURIAM.

         We find no merit in the substantive issues raised by Appellants and affirm the final judgment without further discussion. However, because the trial court inadvertently entered duplicate judgments, [*] we remand for the court to strike the later-entered judgment. See Diecidue v. Lewis, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D376 (Fla. 2d DCA Feb. 10, 2017); Sound Builders of St. Petersburg, Inc. v. Hanlon, 439 So.2d 276 (Fla. 2d DCA 1983).

         AFFIRMED and REMANDED with directions.

          LEWIS and WETHERELL, JJ, CONCUR; WINSOR, J, CONCURRING WITH OPINION.

          WINSOR, J., concurring.

         Michael Willens and his wife Sara own a home on Canopy Oaks Drive in Jacksonville, and they invited Michael's parents to live there rent free. The parents moved in, the relationship deteriorated, and everyone ended up in litigation. After a two-day bench trial, the trial court entered a final judgment declaring that the parents "are entitled to live in the home for as long as they like." This is the Willenses' appeal.[**]

         The facts that led to the final judgment, many of which were disputed, are complicated and peculiar. The short version is that the Willenses recognized the parents' financial needs and sent a letter saying "[y]ou may move into our home on Canopy Oaks Drive and live as long as you like rent free." (emphasis in original). The letter expressed hope that the move would improve the parties' relationship and noted that "the whole purpose is to make life easier so that [the parents] can enjoy and build a life here with [the Willenses]."

         There were other emails and letters, and the parties considered other arrangements, but the parents ultimately moved from Maine and into the Canopy Oaks Drive home. Once there, they undertook some $160, 000 worth of improvements, to which the Willenses objected at some point. This and other factors contributed to the relationship's continued deterioration, until finally the Willenses asked the parents to move out. The parents refused and changed the locks, and the Willneses sued to evict. The parents counterclaimed, claiming breach-of-contract and promissory estoppel, among other things.

         After trial, the court entered its final judgment. The court found the parents' testimony credible, found portions of the Willenses' testimony "entirely unreasonable, inconsistent with the documents, and not credible, " and found the parents had "proved their case . . . by substantially more than a preponderance of the evidence." It concluded the parties had a written agreement with "clear and unequivocal" terms and that the parents were entitled to specific performance. It therefore directed the parties "to perform the agreement, " meaning the Willenses were to let the parents live in the house indefinitely.

         Separate from its ruling on the existence of an agreement, the court concluded the parents had also proven their claim for promissory estoppel, finding the parents had "significantly relied on [the Willenses'] promises to their detriment." The court awarded no separate relief on this point, explaining that the parents "are ...


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