appeal from the Circuit Court for Walton County. Jeffrey E.
Lewis and Thomas R. Santurri, Judges.
final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
A. Shipman, Robert L. Kauffman, and Lana Hillis, Dunlap &
Shipman, P.A., Santa Rosa Beach, for Appellant.
K. Simpson and Amanda W. Gay, Guilday, Simpson, West, Hatch,
Lowe & Roane, P.A., Tallahassee, for Appellees.
Family Limited Partnership ("Iezzi"), owner of a
condominium in the Edgewater Beach Condominiums, filed a
27-count complaint against the condominium's Association
and seven current or former directors or officers of the
Association ("Directors"), seeking both equitable
and legal relief. The trial court dismissed Iezzi's
action, finding that its claims were derivative and Iezzi did
not comply with derivative pre-suit requirements. On appeal,
Iezzi argues that its actions were brought under a statute
specific to condominiums, outside of the purview of the
derivative procedures. We affirm, and hold that members of
not-for-profit condominium associations may not avoid
pre-suit requirements for derivative actions.
condominium association incorporated under chapter
617, Florida Statutes, the "Florida Not For Profit
Corporation Act," is generally subject to its laws.
§ 617.1703, Fla. Stat. The members of these associations
are the condominium unit owners, and the officers and
directors of the associations owe these members certain
fiduciary responsibilities. See § 718.111, Fla.
Stat. However, the association has broad powers and duties,
including all of those set forth in chapter 617, unless
otherwise noted. Id.
617.07401, Florida Statutes, restricts the ability of members
to bring lawsuits "in the right of" their
non-for-profit corporation. Members must bring their
complaints to the board of directors to allow the corporation
to conduct investigations and initiate a lawsuit.
Id. If the corporation proves that it has conducted
an independent and reasonable investigation, and determines
in good faith that a lawsuit is not in the best interests of
the corporation, a court may dismiss the proceeding.
718.303(1), Florida Statutes, provides a cause of action for
damages or equitable relief that may be pursued by either an
association or unit owner. Liability for violating chapter
718 or the association's governing documents may be
imposed on the association, unit owners, directors, and
tenants. § 718.303, Fla. Stat. The broad language of
this statute encompasses a wide variety of violations.
complaint alleges that the Association acted improperly and
the Directors breached their fiduciary duties, resulting in
various illegal expenditures and assessments, and losses of
Association funds. Iezzi argues that to limit section
718.303(1) actions by requiring that they comply with the
pre-suit requirements of section 617.07401, would necessarily
create a conflict between the statutes. As Iezzi asserts, if
the sections do conflict, the provisions of chapter 718 must
control. See § 617.1703, Fla. Stat.; see
also Heron at Destin W. Beach & Bay Resort Condo.
Ass'n, Inc. v. Osprey at Destin W. Beach, 94 So.3d
623, 631 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012).
it "is axiomatic that statutes must be read with other
related statutes," and courts must "construe
related statutory provisions in harmony with one
another" when possible, we conclude that sections
718.303(1) and 617.07401 do not conflict. See Abbott
Labs. v. Mylan Pharm., Inc., 15 So.3d 642, 657 (Fla. 1st
DCA 2009) (quoting State v. Negrin, 306 So.2d 606,
607 (Fla. 1st DCA 1975); Forsythe v. Longboat Key Beach
Erosion Control Dist., 604 So.2d 452, 455 (Fla. 1992)).
A, we define derivative actions and note that plaintiffs may
not evade pre-suit requirements by labeling their complaints
a certain way. In Part B, we examine the application of
common-injury claims to condominiums since chapter 718's
enactment in 1976. Part C discusses the enactment of section
617.07401 in 2009, and the limited case law following it. We
conclude by finding that section ...