final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County Lower
Tribunal No. 14-27252, Jorge E. Cueto, Judge.
Murdoch, Weires & Neuman, PLLC and Scott A. Weires (Boca
Raton), for appellant.
McCumber, Daniels, Buntz, Hartig, Puig & Ross, P.A., Amy
L. Dilday, Starlett M. Massey, and Jonathan D. Kaplan
(Tampa), for appellee.
ROTHENBERG, C.J., and SALTER and LUCK, JJ.
statutes allow for the government-sponsored forced sale of
real property to pay the overdue property tax bill owed on
that property. If, after the money from the sale has been
used to pay the property taxes and other government liens,
there is a balance - or surplus - the surplus is to be paid
to the property's titleholders, lienholders, and
mortgagees. But what date must the clerk use to determine
which titleholders, lienholders, and mortgagees are entitled
to the surplus - the date of the sale or when the court
adjudicates disputed claims to the surplus? Because we agree
with the trial court that the determination of who is
entitled to the surplus is made at the time of the tax deed
sale, we affirm the summary judgment.
Background and Procedural History
Weiner purchased a condominium at the Mayfair House on
January 5, 2005. About a year later, she took out a mortgage
loan on the property with Regions Bank in the amount of $193,
000. In September 2007, the loan, which at this time had
$198, 539.73 owing, was modified. Soon thereafter, Weiner
executed the first of three warranty deeds transferring the
property to the Mayfair 555 Trust. David Rahimi is the
current trustee of this trust.
on the condominium were not paid, and, on June 12, 2014, the
property was sold at a tax deed sale. The sale, after the
taxes were paid off, resulted in a surplus of $92, 519.89,
which remained in the court registry. Global Discoveries,
Ltd. is a company that recovers judicial sale surplus
proceeds on behalf of mortgagees. The company obtained an
assignment from Regions Bank to recover the subject funds. At
the time, the amount owed on the modified mortgage loan was
lawsuits were filed to recover the surplus. Rahimi filed a
complaint to quiet title, which sought to recover the surplus
funds resulting from the tax deed sale. Upon the filing of
the quiet title action, the clerk marked the funds "do
not disburse." When Global Discoveries filed a statement
of claim against the surplus, the clerk refused to disburse
the money. Global Discoveries then filed a declaratory action
to compel disbursement based on the priority held by the
mortgage. Rahimi moved to intervene in the declaratory action
and the trial court eventually consolidated the two cases.
the two cases were pending, on January 14, 2016, Regions Bank
recorded a release of mortgage. The release stated that
Regions Bank "cancel[led] and discharge[d]" the
subject mortgage. Nonetheless, Global Discoveries moved for
summary judgment asserting that "discharge of the
[m]ortgage . . . does not release the prior titleholder's
obligation to pay the [l]oan, it only releases the property
from serving as collateral for the [l]oan." The trial
court concluded that the mortgage lien had priority to the
surplus funds regardless of the later release. Thus, it
granted summary judgment in favor of Global Discoveries and
ordered the clerk to disburse the surplus to the company.
the appeal of that order.