Central Carillon Beach Condominium Association, Inc., et al., Petitioners,
Pedro J. Garcia, etc., et al., Respondents.
final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Petitions for Writs of Certiorari from the Circuit Court for
Miami-Dade County, Monica Gordo, Judge. Lower Tribunal Nos.
16-26521 and 16-26529
Rennert Vogel Mandler & Rodriguez, P.A., and Thomas S.
Ward and Jason R. Block, for petitioners.
Abigail Price-Williams, Miami-Dade County Attorney, and Jorge
Martinez-Esteve and Daija Page Lifshitz, Assistant County
Attorneys, for respondent Pedro J. Garcia.
SALTER, EMAS and FERNANDEZ, JJ.
these consolidated cases, two condominium associations
("Associations") seek a writ of certiorari quashing
orders denying their motions for certification of a class of
the defendant unit owners in their respective associations.
The plaintiff/respondent in each case is the property
appraiser of Miami-Dade County, Florida
("Appraiser"). We treat the cases as appeals from
non-final orders determining "whether to certify a
class, " and affirm the orders below.
interplay between (a) the condominium statute authorizing a
condominium association to sue and be sued "on behalf of
all unit owners concerning matters of common interest, "
section 718.111(3), Florida Statutes (2016), and (b) the
statute requiring the "taxpayer" to be the party
defendant in a circuit court action brought by a county
property appraiser to appeal an administrative determination
of the county's value adjustment board, section
194.181(2), Florida Statutes (2016), apparently presents a
case of first impression in Florida's appellate courts.
As the issue turns on the meaning and application of the two
statutes, our review of the circuit court orders denying
class certification is de novo. Borden v. East-European
Ins. Co., 921 So.2d 587, 591 (Fla. 2006).
Carillon Beach Condominium is condominium with some 140
residential units and various common elements. It is operated
and maintained by petitioner/appellant Central Carillon Beach
Condominium Association. Similarly, 2201 Collins Avenue
Condominium has some 180 residential units and various common
elements, all operated and maintained by petitioner/appellant
2201 Collins Avenue Condominium Association.
year 2015, each of the Associations filed, with the approval
of its board of directors, a single joint petition with the
Miami-Dade County Value Adjustment Board (the
"VAB") challenging the Appraiser's proposed
assessments for all of the units within the applicable
condominium building. Such a joint petition by an association on
behalf of the unit owners is expressly authorized by a
provision within the ad valorem tax statutes, though it is
subject to (1) a determination by the property appraiser that
the units "are substantially similar with respect to
location, proximity to amenities, number of rooms, living
area, and condition, " and (2) notice by the association
to each unit owner of a twenty-day right to opt out of
inclusion in the joint petition. These conditions were
satisfied in the present case, and the joint petitions were
heard administratively and ruled upon by the VAB.
Association obtained, for its respective unit owners,
substantial reductions in assessed value in the VAB
decision-approximately 20% in the case of Central Carillon,
and approximately 40% in the case of 2201 Collins Avenue. As
further permitted by the ad valorem statutes, the Appraiser
appealed those VAB determinations to the circuit court in
separate lawsuits for each condominium. Each lawsuit,
however, named each of the individual unit owners as a
defendant; it did not sue the applicable Association "on
behalf of" all of the unit owners.
response, each Association moved to dismiss the lawsuit and
to strike the unit owners as defendants. Each Association
sought joint representation of all unit owners in its
condominium, as a defendants' class action (joint,
representative defense, versus the joint, representative
petition protesting the assessments, as had been the case
before the VAB). The Appraiser opposed the motions to dismiss
and moved to default all of the condominium unit owners for
failing to file an individual responsive pleading. These
motions were further briefed by counsel and then heard on the
same day by the trial court.
trial court entered separate, but (appropriately) nearly
identical orders in each case, denying each Association's
motion to dismiss and also denying its motion for
certification of the unit owners as a defense class with the