final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
and cross-appeal from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth
Judicial Circuit, Broward County; William W. Haury, Jr.,
Judge; L.T. Case No. CACE 12-019414.
Michael B. Buckley of Buckley Law Group, P.A., St.
Petersburg, for appellant.
A. Tappert of Weissman & Dervishi, P.A., Miami, for
Trigeorgis ("Father") appeals the final judgment
entered in George Trigeorgis' ("Son") slander
of title action. Son cross-appeals the final judgment entered
on Father's money lent counterclaim. Because Son failed
to establish all of the elements for a slander of title
claim, we reverse the slander of title judgment. We also
reverse and remand the money lent judgment for recalculation
of the prejudgment interest.
core, this case involves a bitter dispute between Father and
Son regarding repayment of money lent. In late 2009, Father
and Son decided to purchase a condo as an investment
property. The original plan was for the condo to be purchased
in both of their names and for each party to contribute
towards the purchase price. Ultimately, however, it was
decided that Father would fund the entire purchase price and
that the condo would be purchased in Son's name only.
This arrangement was contingent on Son agreeing to repay the
loan within three years at an 8% annual interest rate. To
that end, Father drafted a loan agreement memorializing the
above described terms and transferred a total of $231, 000 to
Son. On April 23, 2010, Son purchased the subject condo for
$185, 000. At the time of closing, Son had not yet signed the
the closing, Father asked Son to sign the written loan
agreement and Son assured him that he would. On July 13,
2011, nearly fifteen months after the closing, Son took it
upon himself to revise and sign the loan agreement drafted by
Father. That agreement, titled "Loan Agreement for
Purchase of Symphony Condo Unit 1704-S" ("the
Agreement"), provided as follows:
[Son] hereby agrees to borrow $187, 908 from [Father] for the
purchase of Unit 1704-S at the Symphony Condominium, 600 West
Las Olas Boulevard #1704-S, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312, using
the property as collateral.
The loan is due and payable in 3 years with an accrued 8%
annual interest. If the amount due is not paid in 3 years,
[Father] will receive ownership of the property. That is,
[Father] can obtain the property in lieu of the amount due
(principal plus interest) in 3 years.
after signing the Agreement, Son had a falling out with
Father and decided to sell the condo. Upon learning that the
condo had been listed for sale, Father filed a notice of
interest in real property in the public records claiming to
have an interest in the subject condo. Attached to the notice
was a copy of the Agreement drafted and signed by Son.
of 2012, Son sued Father for slander of title and to quiet
title. In his complaint, Son alleged that had Father not
filed the notice of interest, he would have been able to sell
the condo. Father answered the complaint and raised as an
affirmative defense that the Agreement attached to the notice
of interest was a true and valid agreement. Father also
counterclaimed for money lent, arguing that Son owed him
$187, 908 plus interest for the money lent to purchase the
matter proceeded to a bench trial. With regard to Son's
slander of title action, Son testified, generally, that as a
result of the notice of interest, he was unable to sell the
condo. No specific evidence was presented showing how or if
the notice of interest induced others not to deal with Son.
With regard to Father's money lent counterclaim, Father
testified that in total, he lent Son $231, 000 for the
purchase of the condo. Father later admitted that $70, 000
had already been paid back, thus reducing the amount owed to
$161, 000. Son readily admitted that he owed Father money,
however testified that he had already paid back $97, 000 and
therefore only owed a remaining $134, 000. Son also
acknowledged that at the time of closing, the plan was for
there to be a formal loan agreement in place similar to the
one that he signed in 2011.
conclusion of the trial, the court found in favor of Son on
his slander of title action and awarded him a total of $64,
720.33 in attorney's fees and costs as damages. The
court, however, offered no analysis to accompany its finding.
The court also found in favor of Father on his money lent
claim and awarded him the principal amount of $134, 000. The
court did not award Father the 8% accrued interest provided