JONATHAN ROUFFE and RACHEL PEARL a/k/a RACHEL ROUFFE, Appellants,
CITIMORTGAGE, INC., Appellee.
final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit,
Palm Beach County; Jeffrey D. Gillen, Judge; L.T. Case No.
Trent Steele of Steele Law, Hobe Sound, for appellants.
Rosenberg and Jarrett Cooper of Robertson, Anschutz &
Schneid, P.L., Boca Raton, for appellee.
BELANGER, ROBERT, ASSOCIATE JUDGE.
Jonathan Rouffe and Rachel Pearl, a/k/a Rachel Rouffe,
("the Heirs"), appeal the final judgment of
foreclosure entered in favor of appellee, CitiMortgage, Inc.
("Citi"). On appeal, the Heirs contend that the
trial court erred in denying their motion for involuntary
dismissal at trial, arguing that Citi failed to prove the
borrower defaulted, Citi failed to provide evidence of a
forbearance agreement, and failed to establish the correct
date of default. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm
in part and reverse in part with remand.
2003, the borrower borrowed money to purchase her home. Citi
acquired the note and mortgage which secured the
March 2010, the borrower failed to make payments required
under the loan. In March 2011, the borrower died, and in
November 2011, Citi filed a foreclosure action to enforce the
note and mortgage. The Heirs were heirs of the borrower, and
were indispensable parties properly named in Citi's
trial, Citi's main witness testified regarding the date
of default, but provided several dates, explaining that the
borrower made partial payments for some time, so there was a
date of "last full payment, " versus partial
witness also mentioned forbearance agreements between the
borrower and Citi, and over Citi's objection, the
Heirs' counsel questioned the witness regarding these
agreements. Neither party, however, offered the agreements
Citi rested, the Heirs moved for involuntary dismissal,
arguing that Citi failed to provide the forbearance
agreements, and therefore, failed to prove how and when the
borrower defaulted. The trial court disagreed, denied the
Heirs' motion, and eventually entered a final judgment of
foreclosure. The Heirs gave notice of appeal.
applicable standard of review for a motion for involuntary
dismissal is de novo. Deutsche Bank Nat'l
Tr. Co. v. Clarke, 87 So.3d 58, 60 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012).
A motion for involuntary dismissal under Florida Rule of
Civil Procedure 1.420(b) in a non-jury trial can be equated
to a motion for directed verdict in a jury trial:
When an appellate court reviews the grant of a motion for
involuntary dismissal, it must view the evidence and all
inferences of fact in a light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, and can affirm a directed verdict only where no proper
view of the evidence could sustain a verdict in favor of the
Id.; see also Deutsche Bank Nat'l Tr. Co. v.
Huber, 137 So.3d 562, 563-64 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014). On
appeal, the Heirs argue, as they did below, that Citi failed
to prove ...