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St. Brendan High School, Inc. v. Neff

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

June 26, 2019

ST. BRENDAN HIGH SCHOOL, INC., et al., Appellants,
v.
Magali NEFF, et al., Appellees.

          Rehearing Denied July 17, 2019

Page 221

          An Appeal from a non-final order from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Maria De Jesus Santovenia, Judge. Lower Tribunal No. 18-31703

         J. Patrick Fitzgerald & Associates, P.A., Roberto J. Diaz and Maura Fitzgerald Jennings; Gaebe Mullen Antonelli & DiMatteo, Elaine D. Walter, Joseph M. Winsby and Michael A. Mullen, for appellants.

         James J. Traitz; Jay M. Levy, for appellees.

         Before SALTER, FERNANDEZ and LINDSEY, JJ.

          OPINION

         FERNANDEZ, J.

          St. Brendan High School, Inc., and Archdiocese of Miami, Inc., (collectively, "St. Brendan") appeal the trial court’s order granting a temporary injunction compelling St. Brendan to reverse its expulsion of Michelle Neff, a minor, and to readmit her to complete her junior year of high school. Due to the Neffs’ failure to show entitlement to relief and the trial court’s failure to include all of the necessary findings required for granting an injunction, we reverse and vacate the order and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         St. Brendan, a private Catholic high school in Miami-Dade County, Florida, expelled high school student, Michelle Neff, when her parents, Magali and Herbert Neff, filed a personal injury action against the school after Michelle was injured while

Page 222

performing community service at Good Hope Equestrian Training Center, Inc., an organization listed on St. Brendan’s approved community service list. St. Brendan maintains that filing the suit against the school violated school policy, specifically certain school handbook provisions.[1] Approximately one month after the expulsion, the Neffs filed an emergency motion for temporary injunction, in order to compel the school to readmit Michelle to complete her junior year.

          After a hearing on the emergency motion for temporary injunction, the trial court issued an order simply granting the motion, noting that the court’s reasoning was contained in the record. St. Brendan timely appealed the non-final order granting the temporary injunction.

         This Court applies "a hybrid standard of review to the appeal of an order granting or denying a temporary injunction: ‘To the extent the trial court’s order is based on factual findings, we will not reverse unless the trial court abused its discretion; however, any legal conclusions are subject to de novo review.’ " City of Miami v. City of Miami Firefighters’ & Police Officers’ Ret. Trust & Plan, 249 So.3d 709, 713 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018) (quoting Gainesville Woman Care, LLC v. State, 210 So.3d 1243, 1258 (Fla. 2017)).

          To obtain a temporary injunction, a party seeking relief must satisfy the following four-part test: "[1] a substantial likelihood of success on the merits; [2] lack of an adequate remedy at law; [3] irreparable harm absent the entry of an injunction; [4] and that injunctive relief will serve the public interest." Gainesville Woman Care, 210 So.3d at 1258; see alsoMercado Oriental, Inc. v. Marin,725 So.2d 468, 469 (Fla. 3d DCA 1999); Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.610(c). If the party fails to meet any of these requirements, the motion must be denied. Genchi v. Lower Fla. Keys Hosp. Dist.,45 So.3d 915, 919 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010). "Before granting a temporary injunction, the trial court must make clear, definite, and unequivocally sufficient factual findings .... Failure to make specific findings as to each of these four elements is reversible error." Tesoro Prop. Owner’s Ass’n, Inc. v. Tesoro Commons, LLC,237 So.3d 403, 404 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018). The trial court’s findings must be supported by competent substantial evidence. Gainesville Woman Care, 210 So.3d at 1265. Upon ...


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